Article written by Blog Post Contributor Maria C. Inoa, LCSW
There’s nothing like the holidays where you gather with your loved ones to spend time together and eat some delicious food. Maybe your family is into sports and the focus will be on the big games for the day. Maybe your family spends time playing cards or other games together. The holidays are usually a time that warms your heart with the love you feel for those closest to you. That is, until someone brings up politics. Unfortunately, the previously joyous gathering can quickly turn into a scene from Jerry Springer.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot going on when it comes to politics with the mid-terms just ending and the general widening divide in our country. It’s impossible to watch the news without the political struggles being front and center, and it all tends to have a negative slant unfortunately. So, though you love your family members, each person may have very different views from one another. It’s okay that you don’t all believe the same thing. It’s pretty typical for families.
Why Such a Hot Topic?
Politics are a hot topic because it speaks to each person’s core values and beliefs. We each feel strongly about what we believe in, whether it be about politics or another topic. When someone offers a different opinion, we can feel threatened and as a result, get defensive.
During this season, you may be seeing your family more often. You may be getting together on the actual holidays or you may be getting together at other times as well. It’s good to have a basic plan of action in your head of how you plan to handle the topic of politics, especially if you feel strongly one way or the other.
Tips on Surviving My Family Gathering
Every family is unique in its circumstances. With that being said, there are some things you can do to survive and hopefully, enjoy your family gathering.
Don’t bring politics up. This is a great idea but certainly, not always possible. You can only control your actions, so if Aunt Sue brings up something related to politics, it’s all about how you respond.Listen first. As hard as it is, try to listen and hear what the other person is saying. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, but you should give them the basic respect of letting them say what they want to say.Watch your tone. Your tone says so much whether you realize it or not, so don’t raise your voice. No one wants to be yelled at, and when you raise your voice, the other person tends to tune you out anyways.You can’t expect to change someone’s opinion after one conversation. Pat yourself on the back for having expressed your beliefs in a calm and constructive manner. Remember, sometimes you have to just agree to disagree.If you feel angry or frustrated, step away. Nothing will get accomplished if you stay and argue. Likely things will escalate instead. Step outside or to a bathroom where you can cool down.
What’s Your Focus
Remember, the holidays should be enjoyable. Focus on what you have to be thankful for instead of what you wish you had. The truth is, we all have something we wish we could change about our lives. Try to find the good in others and talk about topics that are enjoyable for both parties. Focus on creating positive memories. Those are what we will remember years from now.
Maria C. Inoa, LCSW