ASK DENISE: Family member makes racist comments

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Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.


Dear Denise: I have a family member that uses racial remarks and often is mean-spirited against groups of people. I cringe at some of the comments he makes. He knows we don’t like it, but he does it anyway. How can I make him stop?

Dear Reader: You can’t. I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for, but the sad reality is we cannot control other people’s behaviors, we can only control our reactions to these behaviors.

I am sure you have made it clear to this person you do not approve of his comments, but apparently, he chooses to continue with talking this way. What you can control is what you do next. Perhaps, if the next time he started talking that way, you got up and walked away (and kept this a consistent response), he would get the message you are no longer going to tolerate this. But, maybe he won’t care what anyone thinks. Either way, by leaving and not subjecting yourself to his tirade any longer, you will feel better. 

Good luck.


Dear Denise: I live with my boyfriend, and we have a baby together. We both have decent-paying jobs, and both of us have strong work ethics and seldom take sick time. Our pay is pretty even, with him sometimes getting some overtime and making a little more. 

I love this man and want to spend my life with him. It seems, however, as if all the household responsibilities fall on me. I am tired, too, when I get home from work. On weekends he likes to go hang out with his family. They cook for him and pet and pamper him – he is an only child. This leaves me with all the childcare and chores. He will come home from them in the evening, wanting to be romantic and carefree. I am worn out by then and ill as can be. Is he ever going to change? What can I do?

Dear Reader: As I told the person who wrote in before you, we cannot make others change. You can only control you. From what I gather by what you have written, he has been taken care of most of his life, and deep inside, he expects it now as well. The action you can take is to stop enabling him. If he expects a nice dinner at night, tell him certain nights of the week are his nights to cook. Whatever he wants to eat, it will be up to him to cook it. Do not give in and cook it yourself – he won’t starve. 

Tell him he has to begin doing his laundry, you don’t have time to do it all. When he runs out of clothes, he will start doing it. Will he be happy about it? 

Probably not, and will whine and complain, hoping to wear you down, so you resume the chore. Don’t. 

Be persistent and consistent, and hopefully, he will see the light. 

Best wishes.

Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor in Spruce Pine. Send questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
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