A young person’s deep engagement with white nationalism may interrupt the influence that parents, family members, and former friends and mentors have. As the person’s experiences and life situations change, however, the rewards the movement brings them will vary, and the strength of their commitment may wane. Factors that may cause such changes include:
- Activities that were initially exciting may lose their appeal when they become routine.
- Social relations within the group may turn sour.
- Positive encounters with members of groups demeaned by white nationalists may weaken the person’s certainty about racial distinctions and the ideology of white nationalism.
- Increasing responsibilities at work or a new role as a parent at home may turn membership in the movement into a burden.
Parents may not be able to know when factors such as these may make it possible that a young person is ready to leave the movement. So although there may be points you feel like giving up, cutting ties, or expressing hostility, it is generally more productive to signal clearly that your door will always be open if a young person caught in the movement wants to change course.
Exiting a white nationalist group is hard for a person who has become deeply involved for a sustained period. Getting out not only risks a loss of certainty about who they are and what they value, it also involves a loss of their primary social support network and the real possibility that group members will retaliate against them. These factors are substantial barriers to exiting the movement.
The lower the barriers are to reconnecting with family and old friends, the more likely a young person who is considering getting out will follow through.