How to Talk to Your Family When You Disagree on Politics.
Addressing the Elephant in the room.
With the November election day approaching, conversations about climate change, gun control, and reproductive rights are taking place. It feels impossible to avoid the buzz—and if you usually surround yourself with peers who are aligned with your personal beliefs, it feels hard to return home and get into arguments with family members who don’t agree. It can be even harder when your political beliefs are brushed aside by relatives who dismiss you as young and uninformed. The truth is, the 18 to 24 age group is the most rapidly increasing demographic of voters, jumping from 20% during the 2014 midterm elections to nearly 36% during the 2018 midterms. Young people are arguably more willing to be educated, more involved, and more passionate about politics than ever before. It might seem impossible to stay calm, or prevent an unnecessary argument when politics surface in conversation. Keep in mind these tips next time you are approaching the touchy subject with your family.
Know Your Facts
It’s important to walk into any constructive conversation about politics with concrete facts on your side. You’ll feel more confident about the statements that you’re making, and your parents won’t be able to label your arguments as opinion. If you’re going to make a claim for or against any particular politician or candidate, your family is more likely to take you seriously if you can show them proof. Facts are always the best defense when you feel as though you’re being backed into a corner during a verbal sparring match. As opposed to saying, “This politician is homophobic,” use statements like: “This politician voted against the Marriage Equality Act five times, which keeps same-sex couples from enjoying the exact same rights as straight couples.” Not only will your point be clear and concise, but you might also bring new information or facts to the conversation that your family wouldn’t have known otherwise. Even if you don’t come to an amicable agreement at the end of the conversation, it will be difficult for your relatives to brush you off as uninformed.
Beware being Defensive
People can become defensive over their beliefs, it’s natural human behavior. However, when politics are involved, people become particularly defensive. Since each political party is so divided, everyone just assumes the other side is wrong. Remember that life isn’t just black and white, that there isn’t one correct answer, and just because you and your relatives disagree, neither of you are necessarily bad people for it. Approach the conversation in a calm and less argumentative manner, and your family will be more willing to listen.
It’s Okay to Disagree!
When you were younger, it was easier to affiliate yourself with your family’s beliefs. However, as you started to grow up and spend more time away from them, you probably became more influenced by the outside world and your education, thus developing your own opinions. Keep in mind that this is perfectly normal, and that you’re not wrong for having a different set of beliefs (and vice versa).
While you may never be able to change your parent’s minds about certain topics, especially when it comes to politics, it’s important to approach every conversation with mutual respect. Have some fast facts ready to go and respond constructively to the arguments they make – they might not even be biased, just poorly informed. Politics is about discourse, but it doesn’t have to turn into an all-out fight.
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