Dear Harlan: My mom is dating a racist jerk. He says the stupidest things and thinks he’s funny. I told my mom that he can’t say these things, but she says there is a sweet side to him. My mom and dad got a divorce 10 years ago, and she has had a hard time finding someone to be with. There is no excuse to date someone like him. It embarrasses me to think of her being with this man. I’m scared she will get used to being around him. She’s a teacher, and he could ruin her reputation. How can I get her to see that his behavior is a reflection on her?
Dear Embarrassed: You can’t start with “MOM! STOP DATING THIS RACIST LOSER! TEXT HIM IT’S OVER!! NOW!!!” You need to be more strategic. This will take restraint and maturity. Acknowledge that you love her and appreciate that she has someone in her life. Then spill it. Ask her if she notices his racist, inappropriate and insensitive comments. See if she has an opinion. She might surprise you with her willingness to engage. Ask if she’s OK. Point out that you’re surprised she would be around someone who speaks this way. Then point out that you’re worried. If he has a social media footprint it can hurt her. He might have a history of racist tweets. He might talk like this around her friends and colleagues. Gently remind her that she has been your moral compass. Now it’s time for her to do the right thing and not allow this to continue.