How To Deal With Family & Politics This Holiday Season


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Holiday season is family season, for better or for worse. And since this year was such a good year, you won’t just be dodging questions about your major or job prospects or non-existent SO; you’re going to be dealing with politics and the 2016 election.

Considering this election was one of the most polarizing to date, we think we can safely assume that you’re really not looking forward to seeing your family this year. Take Lorelai Gilmore’s dread for a Friday night dinner and multiply it by like, a zillion, and we have your level of angst, right? We’re not surprised.

Chin up, buttercup. We know you love your family, and you want to have fun this holiday season. Using a few careful strategies, we know you can keep the peace with the family, regardless of what the political climate looks like.

Know yourself & know your family.

Every family is different. Some all have the same political views, some have a crazy mix, and some think their views aren’t anyone’s business. All of that is super chill, which is why you need to consider your family’s circumstances before tackling the dreaded issue of politics this holiday season.

If you and your family are the types who can peacefully exchange ideas with one another, we totally support your decision to have lively political banter while carving up that turkey. Meaningful discussions are what make the family table so great, and it would be so cool to learn something new from your relatives.

Other families aren’t so into this, though. If you don’t think your family would fare well talking about super polarizing ideas, or that you’ll be offended if you find out who your cousin voted for, we highly recommend you skip to our last step.

Always keep it respectful.

Even if you think your family is up to the task of keeping up a full-fledged political debate and not hating each other at the end, you still need to constantly remind yourself to keep it respectful.

In fact, this goes for all heated arguments. We understand that it’s easy to lose yourself in an impassioned argument, but you need to remember that this is your family and your loved ones mean more than being right.

When debating with someone, think like you do during class discussions: no name-calling, keep things fact-based, and remember that this isn’t personal.

Recognize when a discussion has got to stop.

You might’ve thought you and your family could survive a debate about the Affordable Care Act, but you were wrong. You’re seeing your family lose control of the situation, and before long, someone is going to get seriously offended.

That’s totally okay! When you see things getting way too rude and way too personal, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree or telling your opponent that you can’t keep debating without getting too upset.

Don’t let this person bully you into continuing a discussion you don’t want to participate in. Patience, young grasshopper, will be essential here, but with a few deep breaths we’re sure you can fend off these fight-pickers.

Kindly repeat to them that you really don’t want to continue the conversation, or that your debate is making dinner seriously unpleasant for you. Because they’re your family and they love you, we’re sure they’ll respect your needs.

Put a moratorium on all politics talk.

TBH, we sort of hope you go this route. During the holiday season, there are so many things of substance you can chat about: being grateful, how to brighten someone else’s day, charity and giving back. All of these are pretty non-partisan and are things everyone can get on board for.

If you want super deep conversation with your family without all of the fuss about the election, we totally suggest you make a family-wide pact to eliminate any and all politics talk. Acknowledge that nobody wants to do this at the beginning of the day, and politely keep each other in check if you see anyone getting to close to the edge of controversial.

Remember that you love them.

Whether you opt for a respectful discussion or a total kabbash on election chatter, remember that at the end of the day you love your family. You might absolutely dread their crazy questions or what you think are outlandish opinions, but ultimately, they’re your ride or dies and you wouldn’t do the holidays with anyone else.

After all, Lorelai loved Richard and Emily, despite how much she hated those dinners. If she can get over it, can’t you?

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Sara Heath

word lover. chicken nugget eater. bear cuddler. | As seen on Her Campus, Unwritten, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog | www.mynameisnotsarah.com | @_stuffsarasays

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