Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Nick GenoveseDecember 28, 2016

Two days after this year’s election, I wrote a piece for America expressing my raw feelings of disconnect from my parents, who supported Donald J. Trump for president. About a month later, I wrote another piece expressing my raw feelings of hope that emerged after my parents voiced  their love for me and acceptance of my political beliefs.

In between writing these two essays, a producer for Viceland reached out to me on Facebook and asked to hear my story. I called, we chatted and the result of the conversation was a 90 second commercial featuring me and my parents.

I agreed to be featured in the commercial because I believe my unique relationship with my parents could offer a perspective of unity amidst today’s political divisiveness. I hope the video conveys a sense of hope for divided families. I hope it demonstrates that conversation between people of differing opinions is an important and necessary step in breaking down the walls of division.

But even more so, I hope the video demonstrates the greatest gift parents can offer their children—the space to allow them to become fully themselves.

Children are gifts given from God. But the child the parents receive, they must give again to the world. In other words, children are twice-given gifts—given first from God and second from their parents. Parents may nurture and care immensely for the child during their formative years. But they must eventually give their child away to form their own beliefs and find their own way. Parents must let go of their children to allow them to become gifts for the world.

I do not belong to my parents. I belong to God. One of the greatest acts of my parents was to trust in God and allow me the space to develop my own beliefs and find my own way.

Thank you, Viceland. And thank you, Mom and Dad.

Nick Genovese is an O’Hare fellow at America.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jim Lein
6 years 5 months ago
More and more, it seems, people who voted for Trump didn't vote for Trump. They didn't vote for Clinton. They didn't vote democratic. Trump is a non factor?
Patrick Murtha
6 years 5 months ago
Why should a son become distrustful of his parents because they do not share his political views? Rather, should not their years, their experience, their wisdom become for him a reason for reflection on himself and his own decisions? Note in the video his parents are perfectly clear that they voted for the current president-elect for his policies of business, but does the son every say that he supported Mrs. Clinton for her policies? And what policies of hers would he support: the right to abortion, which is a sin greater than Herod's? the right to same-sex marriage, a sin which cries to heaven? People must recognize and respect those in authority, regardless of whether they believe that person is good for that office or not. If Mrs. Clinton were elected president, while I oppose very much her policies and her principles, as I opposed our current president's, I am, as every Catholic is, duty-bound to respect and honor the person in that office. I am not bound to support any immoral policy or legislation--no one is. Let the Christians of the early Church be our model. They did not rebel against the emperor, even those vile and vindictive emperors, such as Nero, Caligula, Domition, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Decius, Valerian, Diocletian, etc. As Christ said, "Render to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's, and to God the things that are God's." And Christ to set us the example paid tribute to Ceasar by paying the tax. He recognized that Ceasar's authority came from His Father. He recognized that too in Pontius Pilate: "Thou shouldst not have any power over me unless it were given to you from above." And finally we read in St. Peter's epistle: "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your master's with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." I wish America would publish an article on the responsibility of Catholics to respect their presidents, even those who do not as we would wish. Such as article should make a distinction between respect and obedience to the laws that are legitimate, and respect for the office but the duty to disregard laws that are evil or promote evil, such as the laws supporting abortion or same-sex marriage. I wish the Jesuit America would stand again for God.
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 5 months ago
Your example of early Christians not physically rebelling against the emperor is a good one, since the american people have just elected one. His vague as usual comments about the constitution show an insouciance about its importance to defining the country. People who voted for him do not respect the constitution and its importance. They value other things higher.
Patrick Murtha
6 years 5 months ago
Your response is unreasonable. You have no knowledge that Mr. Trump will prove an emperor. You can merely speculate, you merely repeat the constant media-winds that blast the same breath of bad, disruptive air. Let the president-elect prove himself. Let him stand before the nation as the president and act. Give him at least that before casting stones against him. It is right to do so. And whatever his flaws are, you are duty bound to pray for him. As for you comments about Mr. Trump, people on the other side of the ballot can say and have said the same about those supporting Mrs. Clinton. But to go back and forth like that, is mere quibbling and worthless banter. But you are wrong to make your statement about his voters! Wrong because you attempting to discern what you cannot know. Intention. The secrets of the soul. By saying that his supporters "do not respect the constitution and its importance" casts judgment on their intentions. You may judge, as is right, whether their actions were good or bad, and that you will know by the morality of the act itself and by the fruits of the actions. All I ask is give the president-elect a chance. Perhaps you will be right about him; perhaps you will be wrong. But be honest and charitable, judge his actions but not his intention. He is your president. By that office, due to his God-given authority, we all owe his respect.
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 5 months ago
Unreasonable? Ha. I merely see what is front of my eyes, the worst demagogue and liar. He says drain the swamp. He appoints Goldman-Sachs. His appointments are a wrecking crew for the oligarchs. His comments that the constitution shouldn't be a impediment to security are fascism in motion. For that reason, people who voted for Trump in spite of that flunked their civics and history classes. They are defective Americans. The very act of voting for Trump is the test that proves it. So all you passive-aggressive Trump supporters that whine about your precious feelings being insulted, don't come to me for pandering. I'm not a politician. I'm just an American but one thing I know, YOU don't measure up.
6 years 5 months ago
I am a 85 year old father of 5 and grand parent of 15. Have always encouraged my children to vote emphasizing that in this country it is a responsibility. Who they voted for was their decision. If they wished to discuss. OK. If not OK I was raised in the lower Bronx . Attended Catholic grammar school and High School. It was a neighborhood of working parents. Most of my friends were children of immigrants. The good sisters and brothers in grammar school put a great deal of emphasis on the current evils of communism. At home my dad like to talk about politics. He would say that the government should be doing more for the people. I would say "dad you sound like a communist:". He would smile and go back to the radio hoping for some encouragement. I would return to by homework. No idea what my sister and bother were doing. Years later his voting changed to more conservative candidates. He had a tough time understanding all the talk now of what the government should be doing. All he wanted was opportunity to work and care for his family. I thank God each day for my loving parents and for all they did for us with so little temporal resources. When my dad was older and I was raising a family, I was visiting him and helping do the dishes . I said how are you doing. He was no longer working and he said "good but I wish I could have made more of myself." I was out of College then and said Dad . "if I could do as well as you have raising a family of 3 children I would consider myself a huge success. He said "i quess you are right" . This I thank God for also. What an opportunity. To those who find disagreement with parents I say check your priorities. Joe Bliss quess you are right
Anne Chapman
6 years 5 months ago
Nick, I am glad that you feel a sense of acceptance by your parents. I feel sad that they were unable to discern in Trump what you discerned in him. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom. Age sometimes deludes people into thinking that they know more than their adult children just becauses they are older. Obviously many older people failed to see what you saw - a candidate for President with no understanding of complex policy, a man who manipulated people's fears and hidden racism, making it acceptable by calling decency and civility "political correctness". A con man who successfully sold the notion to too many (perhaps including your businessman father) that he is a good businessman, when a study of his business history shows the opposite. He destroyed many businesses - ran them into bankruptcy - until he learned to let others run them. He has no true business or management skills. He started to make money when he turned over managing companies to those who knew how to manage. After all, he is a man who managed to lose almost $1 billion in an up economy. He did not broadcast the fact that he appeared before Congress to urge them (successfully, unfortunately) to restore the tax loopholes that he used to avoid paying taxes on huge income because of these losses. The rest of us don't have the same opportunity - to make taxpayers pay for our own bad judgment. He got away with it. His biggest success came when he realized he could sell himself - turn himself into a celebrity brand. He saw that Americans have become so shallow that celebrity would dazzle them, fool them into thinking that he (alone) could save this country through his sheer business genius. A classic con man. He not only ran many of his own businesses into the ground (ranging from his infamous casino failures to vodka, airlines, and many other businesses), he failed to pay and thus bankrupted the many small contractors who provided support to his businesses - while his lawyers protected his personal wealth. He is an immoral and amoral man. So I am also at odds with many in my family, including one of my own children with whom I do not discuss politics. I can handle being alienated from a few of my longtime friends, and even from a few close family members who supported Trump, but I cannot reject my own child, no matter how wrong I think he is. I imagine it's the same with your parents. You are the same age cohort as my children. My one child who supported Trump was raised in a conservative Republican family, but, like so many, failed to see that Trump is neither conservative nor Republican. . I first voted in 1972, and from 1972 until 2016 never voted for a single Democrat at any level of office. But I could not in good conscience vote for Trump. I could not rationalize it as have so many. I congratulate you on having the moral integrity to oppose Trump even though risking losing your parent's approval. I know others who could not vote for the Republican candidate this time, lifelong Republicans. I am not sure I will ever be able to be close again to several friends and family members who voted for Trump. I feel they have betrayed every value - American and christian - they claimed to believe and that this betrayal could cause significant and long enduring harm to our nation and to the world. Perhaps irreparable harm. I feel now that I did not truly know them. You and your parents have reconciled, and I am glad for you. It may be harder for other families. It's dealing with the total betrayal by people whom I had believed throughout my entire life to share the same values I hold. It's learning for the first time about some of their previously hidden views, now "acceptable" in Trumpland. I pray that Trump does not destroy our nation, and the western world, as he could by destroying the values we fought and died for in many wars, especially WWII.

The latest from america

A building burns after being bombed
The pope’s refusal to cheer either side in this war gives him credibility as mediator.
A Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, by Terrance Klein
Terrance KleinMay 31, 2023
A Reflection for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Kerry Weber
Kerry WeberMay 31, 2023
pope francis speaks from his chair at the general audience, he gestures with his hand and smiles as he talks
In his general audience, Pope Francis discusses the apostolic zeal of Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit who successfully taught and spread the Gospel in China in the 1500s.
Pope FrancisMay 31, 2023