How to Restore Peace in a Politically Divided Family
Politics have always been a major source of conflict among people, and it can be difficult to even get along with your family if you share different beliefs. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, associating with relatives or even living with people who hold values you are uncomfortable with can negatively impact your mental health.
Although you may never see eye-to-eye with your relatives about politics, you can still learn to get along and appreciate one another. Here are a few tips to help you bridge the gap between your beliefs and relationship.
Recognize the Importance of Difference
Believing in different things creates diversity, not division. Just as you are free to choose your own beliefs and shape your own perspective, so are your family members. Problems arise when we attempt to assert our beliefs as “right” or better than others.
Racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia are never okay, and they are not political beliefs despite the fact people often use political logic to justify them. Understand that you have every right to draw boundaries and avoid conversations and association with family members whose beliefs directly discriminate against anyone, especially you, your partner or your children.
Focus on Listening, Not Defending
While you may be better off avoiding debates, conversations about politics can still be valuable. Your mindset is the most important factor; rather than picking apart their opinions and plotting your response, ask them open questions and strive to understand why they support their side. Seek to identify the emotions and experiences that led them to adopting their views, and look for points that you may agree on.
Also recognize that you do not have to prove yourself to them. If a family member is particularly antagonistic, consider the fact they may be using this tactic as a defensive approach. You are not obligated to participate in any arguments.
Focus on Your Own Actions
Conflict can quickly become hostile in an instant, and your debate about politics can spiral into character attacks and hurtful insults. Do not allow yourself to get sucked into this cycle. Pay close attention to your body when you communicate with your family member, and identify any signs of tension or anger building.
Make a commitment to speak calmly, and tell yourself that you won’t raise your voice, match insult for insult or otherwise demean the person you love. These choices are yours alone to make. You can’t control their actions, but you can choose how you respond. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to preserve a relationship is walk away for a while when things are heated.
Consider Family Counseling
A politically divided family can still function so long as there is open communication and mutual respect. At Foundations Family Counseling, we strive to help every member of the family feel seen, validated and valued for who they are. We can help you learn how to cope with difficult topics and resolve conflict in a productive way, even if you may never agree on certain things.
To learn more and see whether therapy is the right fit for your family, >contact us today.