I'm (kinda) asking this question for my parents and family.

My parents and I share very different values. For example, I think we should replace our old washing machine with a new, energy-efficient one, but my parents think the extra energy consumed by the old one is no big deal. This leads to constant quarrel and sometimes fight.

I'm at university age so my parents can no longer influence my values, and I should have my own views on social issues by now. On the other hand, we cannot avoid talking about these because they all start from casual topics (like replacing old appliances or my plan for the future). The time we can spend together is limited (I'm attending university and doing internships), so endless arguments are really the last thing I want.

Background: Asian family.

  • 3
    I'm well past university age, and my parents can still influence my values. They aren't the only influence of course, but I hope never to lose the ability to learn from them! Jun 4, 2017 at 14:19
  • I'm also well past university age, and I'd say, honestly, just put up with it until you're financially independent (if you're not already), then move out (if you haven't already) and limit contact with them. A lot of it depends on the values in question, though. Your example seems relatively mild but I don't know what else is going on. My parents disowned my sister for dating (and ultimately marrying) a black guy. So I supported my sister (and BIL) and disowned our parents.
    – Charlie
    Jun 4, 2017 at 15:48
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    Totally off-topic, but they could well be right: you need to look at lifecycle costs rather than just operational costs, and in the lifecycle analysis of the old machine, the energy used in manufacturing is a sunk cost.
    – Mark
    Jun 4, 2017 at 17:58
  • If their washing machine still functions correctly, you would be causing extra waste by replacing it. When they need a new one, that's when a case could be made more effectively. Nov 19, 2018 at 21:49
  • is it about saving money on fuel bills or using less electricity for the worlds good, as these are 2 very different discussions.
    – WendyG
    Nov 20, 2018 at 11:40

4 Answers 4


I like Paul's suggestion to just do some research and figure out the pertinent facts. I could imagine, however, that the argument is not so much about the financial cost but the ecological impact. That's going to be a much harder question to answer with facts. Also, you might win an argument by presenting facts, but winning arguments isn't really the important thing here.

Why don't you just steer clear of arguments? I mean, so you're talking about old appliances, and you say you'd like to replace one, and they say no, it's not worth it, and suddenly you notice there's an argument underway. So once you notice you're launching into an argument why they should do what you think is right, just stop. Don't try to get your parents to agree with you. Do what you want once you have your own apartment/home, and let them keep their old appliances and their values. It cuts both ways, obviously: They can no longer influence your values much, but neither should you try to force yours on your parents.

That's just going to come up more and more the older they get. They'll keep doing things in ways they're used to, and you'll see loads of easier ways to do them, but if they're happy the way they are, why try to convince them to change?

Pick your battles. Don't sweat the small stuff, like whether to buy a new washing machine or continue using the old one.

  • 1
    To be clear, the research piece was only part of my suggestion. My main point was to try and understand the parent's point of view, and if they have common ground wrt the money, then that could be a way to have an objective conversation about it instead of an argument.
    – Paul
    Jun 4, 2017 at 14:10
  • For manufactured goods, lifecycle cost is usually a reasonable proxy for lifecycle ecological impact.
    – Mark
    Jun 4, 2017 at 18:01
  • Yes pascal you got the point. Financial impact is not the major concern. We are arguing because we disagree on whether "protecting the environment" is a valid reason for the upgrade. But of course @Paul 's suggestion to do some research won't do any harm. Maybe I should also stop persuading them as you said. The problem is, our opinions also vary on big stuff, like how much should I get involved in social issues so and so
    – Ryan
    Jun 5, 2017 at 3:09

So, to some degree you will each need to accept that your ability to affect other peoples' values (family or otherwise) is limited. And it's more limited the longer held those values are.

That said, you come from a common background, so there should be some mechanism by which you can understand their views, and then figure out what part of their views are at play.

For example, you indicated that in this particular case you both are money conscious (you feel that the energy savings is worth pursuing, they feel that the new machines' cost doesn't outweigh its value).

That's an easy one, imo. Do the research/math and talk to them objectively about your findings. How does the energy efficiency affect their monthly utility bill? If it's, let's say $10/month (or pounds, I'm on a US keyboard), then that translates to $120/year. If the expected lifespan of the machine is 10 years, rough numbers suggest that if you're paying less than $1200 for the new machine you're saving money in the long run.

Take into account local utility company discounts for changing to energy efficient machines (most in the US offer those), and expected lifecycle costs like repairs and such.

It's hard to argue with well researched numbers, but if they do... then they do. They're grownups too and it's possible to love someone and still disagree with them.

  • It should be pointed out that it's not as simple as just calculating two numbers and comparing them. For example, different people have different "discount rates" - that is, to you a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but to some it might be worth 1.5, or 3. Your parents might not be expecting to get a full 10 years from the machine, or they might value having $1200 now more than saving $10 a month in 8 years. -- I wholeheartedly agree with talking about why they feel as they do, and even agree that doing the numbers may help, but saying this is "an easy one" is oversimplifying.
    – R.M.
    Jun 4, 2017 at 15:25
  • I should clarify the issue is really not the ignoring of the discount rate. The issue is more that if you come into the argument with your numbers and a hidden assumption (no discount rate), it's easy to steamroller over people who disagree with the hidden assumption, but don't have their stance crystallized enough to verbalize it. There can be many of these assumptions, not just the discount rate. If you don't approach the conversation in an open way, you'll miss them and leave the other party upset, feeling that you don't understand them and are disregarding their opinions and feelings.
    – R.M.
    Jun 4, 2017 at 15:34
  • Yeah, the whole point I was trying (and apparently failing) to make is to come at the thing from their point of view, understand their point of view. Then if you want to have an objective discussion, have it with well-researched information.
    – Paul
    Jun 4, 2017 at 15:43
  • " They're grownups too and it's possible to love someone and still disagree with them." So well said @Paul .
    – Ryan
    Jun 5, 2017 at 3:04
  • Hidden assumptions...they are often a huge obstacle to move the discussion forward. good point @R.M.
    – Ryan
    Jun 5, 2017 at 3:05

You are trying to convince your parents that it is better for the environment to buy a new washer, but they are not convinces it is more economical. Therefore you should make a business case. Come up with some hard numbers based on research and your best guesses. How big is the potential upside? How uncertain is it?

You may similarly make an environment case to challenge your own position. Is the environmental impact of constructing a new washer offset by its energy savings or is it not so clear whether this is an environmental win?


Well, I understand and it happens with me too. When time reach to decide my future my parents want to make me a doctor and I want to go with the history and art they really don't like it and we have lots of arguments, but then I came up with an idea. I research the studies, expenses, and opportunities in both the fields and told them what will happen in the future and it will make me happy or not. I know it took 2 months but finally, my parents accept my request and my wish get fulfilled. So don't worry and if your parents are thinking economically then come with a plan where you buy a new washing machine in a exchange and it also uses less electricity or make your work easier. They can't ignore such important factors and definitely agreed. Don't lose hope.

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