Saturday, October 16, 2021

How to Handle Family’s Political Differences

Ask the Life Coach

Dear Coach,

Another holiday is coming up. Because there are fewer family members gathering, Easter will not be as problematic as Christmas. However, coming together will still create a tense, if not downright hostile, environment because of our political differences.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle the political divide that is disrupting our family unity and my sanity?

Helpless in Goodland

Dear Helpless,

Unfortunately, you are not alone. The polarization of politics in this country is causing difficulty for many families and friends. According to a poll taken over a year ago, sixteen percent of responders said they have stopped talking to a family member or friend because of their political differences. The problem isn’t so much in our disagreement but in our hostility and uncivilized expression of our opinions. It seems as if there is no room for conversation.

As the hostess or head of the family, make an effort to deescalate discussions that are likely to end in an argument or hurt feelings. Redirect the conversation if possible. If this doesn’t work, ask, “Why are you so determined to discuss politics?”

Having a strong, supportive family requires accepting differences and flaws. Ask your family, “Is being right worth causing a family divide?” Remind them that they are in charge of their emotions and actions. This is true for you as well. If you respond with hostility, the conflict will escalate. Lower your voice and slow your speech. Remind your family that their discussion is to promote information exchange, not to change minds.

Accepting family members for who they are rather than who you want them to be can pose a challenge. It sounds like you’re up for it. Happy Easter!

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