DEAR HARRIETTE: The holidays are coming, and I am worried about how the conversations will go. We will be traveling down South to visit family, and in our relatively small family, we do not share similar political views. Given how divided Americans are in general, I am concerned about how our dinner-table conversations will go. In previous years, some of my cousins got into serious arguments with other family members because they did not agree on basic principles -- and this was before today’s name-calling and nasty commentary.
How can I manage our time together so that the friction is limited? I want to enjoy some peaceful meals and conversations together, but I’m afraid that we will mostly be arguing. -- Holidays and Politics
DEAR HOLIDAYS AND POLITICS: There are a couple of ways to approach your dilemma, which, by the way, is far more common than you might imagine. You can let your family know upfront that in the spirit of the holidays, they must leave all political discussions at the door. Ask for everyone’s agreement that nobody will talk about their candidates of choice or the hot political issues that have a chokehold on the national conversation these days. Know, however, that this is a lot to ask.
Shy of that extreme position, you might also suggest that there should be times when politics are considered taboo. For example, you could request no political discussions during meals. Ask the family to honor that rule.
You can agree to debate ideas without maligning each other’s names or their candidate of choice. In other words, ask your family members to be civil and respectful, especially when they disagree. In America, we are supposed to have the freedom to express our political views without fear of persecution. This should include the same freedom in the safety of your home.