Thanksgiving is a time to gather around family and friends and discuss the things most important to us. This includes politics for many. And with one of the most controversial elections behind us, both sides have a lot to discuss during dinner.
Growing up in a conservative family, I dread political conversations with family members. An argument can spark simply because I do not agree with their views. Our conversations can range from taxes to abortion, and we can never seem to agree. It can result in someone walking away angrily and even not talking for hours. It’s sad to see families divided over petty squabbles, but it can seem impossible to get over these issues.
If this is the case for you this Thanksgiving, you do not have to suffer. There are ways to get around these arguments that don’t involve throwing your dinner plate. Here are some tips to surviving family disagreements during Thanksgiving:
Speak on topics you know about
Nothing is more annoying than someone arguing for a topic they know nothing about. When an argument arises and you don’t know which side to support, admit it. There is nothing wrong with admitting you aren’t educated on the topic and can’t support one side or another. Take this time to listen to other family members and hear their perspective. It might give you enough information to come to your own conclusion.
There are some topics that do not need to be discussed at the dinner table. Make sure to establish certain boundaries, especially if children are around or if they can be triggering to some. Topics like sexual assault or harassment can trigger family members if they are uncomfortable talking about such.
Boundaries don’t just include topics, but even setting boundaries about where and when to discuss politics can help prevent big blowouts. Try not to have big political discussions during the main dinner. Maybe encourage family members to talk in the family room or even outside if the conversation could end ugly. No one wants to see family fighting with each other on an important holiday.
Keep an open mind
Sometimes an opposing argument doesn’t make any sense, and sometimes, they can make you reflect on your own opinion. If you do end up in a heated political debate, try and listen to the opposing side. Actually listening to what the other person has to say can help guide the argument to a resolution. Keep an open mind, and you might end up coming to an agreement or changing your own perspective on the matter.
Don’t let the debate turn ugly
Even if the other person isn’t doing so, make sure to remain respectful during a discussion. You must keep your argument to facts and not turn to insults or even violence. You could be absolutely correct about the topic being discussed, but that’s going to be overshadowed by your rudeness toward the opposing person. Keep it classy, and remain calm during a disagreement. Remember, it’s OK to walk away.
Be prepared to agree to disagree
Sometimes, two people arguing can’t come to an agreement. Be prepared to agree to disagree on a topic if the argument gets too heated. It’s better to let go of the argument rather than let it ruin the holiday. If the other person won’t let go and keeps pushing the discussion, you might have to be the bigger person and walk away. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving up or accepting defeat. It just means you are stepping away from a fight that could turn ugly.
We can’t let political arguments divide families any longer. Even on the most serious of topics, family is family, and nothing can change that. Your family member could be incredibly incorrect on an important issue, but that doesn’t mean you should ruin the night over it.
So this Thanksgiving, as you pass dinner down the table and say thanks, make sure to be grateful for the family you have. Petty arguments are not worth losing family over.
Hannah Campbell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.