DEAR HARRIETTE: At a dinner celebrating my mother's birthday, one of her friends announced her opinion on the current refugee situation. Our opinions are polar opposites, and my mom's friend, Carol, believes no one should be let into the country. I was the youngest at the table, and I did not expect to be brought into a conversation with people 2 to 3 times my age. However, Carol turned to me and asked me if I agreed with her. I hate debating and political conversations around the dinner table. I did not want to engage her and was a bit surprised I was being brought into the conversation. I blurted out that I didn't have an opinion. Carol seemed a bit confused, but I'm not sure what else I could've done to avoid a debate. I am not sure if there's a way to tell someone that I do not agree with them and end the conversation without explanations and rebuttals. Did I take the best route out of confrontation with Carol? I think we all knew that I had an opinion I did not want to share. -- Not a Fighter, Wilmington, Delaware
DEAR NOT A FIGHTER: While I tend to prefer testy conversations to occur after dinner (after your food is digested), I do not think you should shy away from expressing your opinion about hot-button issues. You can do so in a calm manner. But you will have to explain why you feel a particular way. You can say, "Carol, I respectfully disagree with you because..." It's best if you have concrete information to back up your thoughts. But even if you come from the perspective of being thoughtful about humanity or feeling strong about protecting our borders, be clear. You don't have to debate your point, but stating it is wise to do.