Growing up in the same household doesn’t mean you’ll be politically aligned with your family members. In fact, it’s common for kids, parents, siblings and extended relatives to be political opposites.
This divide can make holiday gatherings — and everyday life — tense, awkward and downright stressful. Yet it’s possible to disagree about politics with parents or others without losing family in the process.
If you’re wondering how to deal with family members with different political ideologies than your own, read on. These tips will help you maintain peace among relatives.
Learn to Listen
The unwillingness of both sides to listen is a big reason for political arguments among family members. Even if you disagree with your parents or others in your family, you can still hear them out. While you might have to put on your best “poker face,” listening is a form of respect.
Remember that listening doesn’t mean you agree or give support. It’s healthier than interrupting and shouting. Plus, you might learn something new. After listening, you can take the floor and explain why you disagree. You can also say that while you don’t see things your relative’s way, you feel that any further discussion would be unwarranted.
Do you get heated every time you disagree with your parents? Does the mere thought of talking politics with your sibling make your blood boil? The more out of control you are emotionally, the higher the chance that your conversation will end with yelling.
It can be challenging to remain calm during any debate with family. You may want to work with a professional counselor to find ways to embrace a peaceful mentality during these types of conversations.
Allow Yourself to Disconnect From the Discussion
Guess what? You don’t have to join the political discussion. It doesn’t matter who brings up the subject. It is your right to say, “I’m not going to have this conversation.” Just because someone else wants to discuss the hottest topics of the day doesn’t mean you have to participate.
Don’t be overbearing or rude, of course. Most people who like talking about politics assume everyone else does, too. When you assert yourself, you can take control of the situation. If your family member tries to goad you into an argument, refuse to take the bait. You’re not required to talk about anything, including the political landscape or your world views.
Losing Family Over Politics
Sometimes, families get so divided on political grounds that they temporarily separate or, sadly, lose touch permanently. If you feel that your relationship with family members is heading in that direction, consider talking with a therapist. Together, you can brainstorm ways to keep your cool even when the conversation gets hot.