Dear Aunt Sevvy,
My family has really enjoyed Harry Potter. We find some good lessons in that book series, and our common enjoyment of it has bonded us as a family. We have participated in occasional Harry Potter-themed events, and have some Harry Potter posters on our walls. Unfortunately, my husband’s parents are offended by this. When they visit it can feel very tense when the kids mention their favorite fandom, carry their toy wands around the house, or even when the in-laws see the books on the shelves. My in-laws try to be gracious—they don’t lecture or correct. But it is a kind of elephant in the room during the entirety of their stay. What should we do?
Many adult children find themselves, in some way, in disagreement with their parents for all kinds of reasons—and that becomes especially problematic when it involves how you’re raising their grandchildren. The key to these tricky situations is respect and empathy.
It helps to understand that theirs is a generation that was suspicious of fiction in general, and even more of fiction that is fantastical or had elements that could be seen as “evil spirits.” You and your children have the ability to tell the difference between stories and reality. Not everyone does. This is, in a way, a difference in beliefs. Your in-laws believe that Harry Potter is a dangerous thing; you believe it is a marvelous source of entertainment and family bonding.
You needn’t redecorate your whole house, or ask your kids to stop enjoying Harry Potter. On the other hand, there is no reason for you to shove it in their faces either. When they’re visiting is probably not the right time for a Harry Potter viewing party, for example. Just be as gracious to them as you’d hope they would be if you were at their house and you encountered something you disagreed with—like obsessive watching of cable TV news channels that echo their political views, for example.
Still, it sounds like your in-laws, despite being uncomfortable, are doing their best to show respect in your home. This is a rare quality, and one to be honored. Showing respect to others with differences is not something that is done well in our current culture.
Aunt Sevvy is impressed by both you and your in-laws for working to honor one another’s feelings regarding a touchy subject. Well done!
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.