4 Ways to Deal with Politically Different Family this Holiday
This holiday season, many of us will return home to our families, who, even though they love us very much and we love them, may hold different political beliefs. It won’t be easy.
The current political moment is an especially tough one if you or your loved ones voted for different presidential candidates back in November. In order to get through this holiday season not only dealing with politically different family, but truly enjoying yourself and your time together, here are 4 tips to breeze through the holidays with family who may not be so “woke.”
1. Be empathetic.
This is a tough one, because we may believe that our own political positions are formed out of empathy, especially if we ascribe to radical black/ brown and queer politics. However, many people in the United States are fearful of the present political moment and may be vulnerable to various political explanations and politicians who seek to capitalize on that fear. When having conversations with family members who believe differently than you do, remember to offer your own explanations and beliefs with kindness (not moral superiority) and to listen to their own reasoning, which could reveal the motivations behind their political choices.
2. Share your perspective
Be straightforward about the facts, the figures, and the history that helps you come to your own conclusions. Share films and books that will show your family members what they may not know yet. Many in the United States are not taught radical political history while in school, so be the one to help your family see the other side of things. Show them the new Ava DuVernay documentary 13th, which has people on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, discussing the issues with the criminal justice system. Give political books for Christmas.
3. The personal is political, but family is forever
I’m of the opinion that every bit of life is political, shaped by our social and cultural beliefs about what is good and acceptable. However, losing family who believe differently, but are otherwise kind and consistently present in your life, is not worth any sort of moral crusade or feeling of superiority. It is important to give your family courtesy and grace, the way we would friends or acquaintances with whom we do not see eye to eye. Honestly, working through political issues within family circles should be safer than anywhere else. While that is not always the case, there are certainly opportunities to build those networks over the holidays.
4. Protect yourself
The prior point being made, I will say that family members who do not support who you are and only mean to tear you down are not people that you have to deal with. The holidays are hard for many folks who cannot be who they are around their families without fear of harm or abuse. In this case, no one should feel any guilt or shame for not spending this time with relatives. Even if its only that your discussions about politics in particular cannot remain civil, set boundaries and feel free to let your family know you are not comfortable with the conversation. The most important piece of advice I can give is to keep yourself safe and happy over the holidays and be with people who love and uplift you, no matter their political beliefs. This include chosen family who are in lockstep with your lived experiences even if your biological family isn’t.
Photo Credits: Sony Pictures, Basement Rejects