It’s that time of the year again when family members, immediate and extended, come together into one home to enjoy a meal together. The night will probably be filled with endless talking and shared experiences and joy. An atmosphere of peace and tranquility will fill the room along with the laughter of loved ones– as well as the slight awkwardness of any new family members, like that one cousin’s fiance.
While this is an ideal way to spend Thanksgiving, it’s not always what happens. Families have opposing views, especially when it comes to politics. Some families will not certain topics discuss together due to disagreements that could potentially spring up. Among that list of forbidden topics, politics gets its own category.
Why must politics have its own spot on the forbidden list for most families? Politics is a huge part of society today, but it seems to be a topic of discussion avoided in many homes due to the animosity it can instill in people of opposing views. Differing political opinions could demolish family relationships in a single night. But politics shouldn’t be avoided due to how valuable they can be within a conversation. So instead of avoiding the topic completely for fear of never talking to your grandma again, try to use a couple of these tips so that you might be allowed back for the next Thanksgiving.
Stop talking and listen.
This has been ingrained in people since their youth but, apparently, once one person brings up politics, no one can shut up. Instead of yelling over a family member, take a step back and listen to their argument. It’s understandable that agreeing with them may be hard or almost impossible to do, but taking a moment to listen could clear up some misconceptions and allow the rising tension to disperse.
Respect differing opinions.
Respect is important when talking about topics such as politics. Just because someone has a different opinion does not mean that respect for them has to go out the window. Don’t throw your mashed potatoes at someone’s face or kick them out of the house simply because they have a different viewpoint. Instead, have a respectful conversation and try to concede to a point. This is your family, after all– you don’t want to kick out Aunt Linda who makes a good pie just because she doesn’t like a bill that was recently passed. Do not lose the chance of eating that pie again due to personal ideologies.
Defend yourself, but don’t attack your relatives.
When the inevitable happens and an argument occurs, individuals should defend the opinions they possess. You should not give up on the opinions you have purely because you are dealing with family members. But instead of attacking relatives and their opinions, shift the argument and go on the defensive. This can not only decrease tension in a situation, but may even end the argument. Stay calm throughout the explanation of your stance on whatever issue you may be discussing and inquire about the opposing standpoint to understand where cousin Alfred is coming from.
Don’t view all other opinions as dirt or ultimately bad. A conversation of differing opinions may change your perspective or at least provide you with more information about a topic and the opposing side. Being negative can create a bad atmosphere around the Thanksgiving feast– and nobody wants to eat turkey under a dark cloud of tension.
Politics can be a steep and slippery slope to approach, but following these few tips might just save a family from breaking apart due to their opposing political philosophies. At least, it might help out with avoiding a particularly delicious food fight as well as securing an invitation to next year’s Thanksgiving gathering.
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