Growing up, I learned there are three touchy topics that can turn people from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde: Politics, Religion, and Money. These days, how can politics not be on the tips of everybody’s lips? How do you handle it when you and your own family are on opposite sides of the political fence?
I’ve got thirteen people in my immediate family: my parents, myself, four siblings and their spouses, and two outspoken nieces. Although only eleven of us are actually eligible to vote, my not-yet-voting-age nieces are damn well informed. As you can imagine, our family dinners tend to get heated, and we’ve got a recipe for disaster. So, here’s how I deal with my family politically.Know Your Stuff
If you’re going to take a stand for something, make sure you know what you’re talking about. There’s no backing down against political Pit Bulls — even if they’re family. Know what your candidate stands for on key issues, and know why you back his or her platform. You can’t go into a political battle unprepared, or you’ll end up feeling like an idiot. Even if they disagree with your politics, they should at least respect your informed opinions.
Keep It Light
I grew up amidst some intensely opinionated people. For me, that meant learning how to squash a heated argument. When people are getting too intense, make a joke, or change the subject. Remind your folks this isn’t the UN, it’s a family, and everyone should be able to be able to speak their voice — without going at each other’s throats.
Remind Everyone When It’s Time To Mind Their Own Business
One of my brothers likes to exercise his right to tell everyone to “F**k off.” He believes that we have the right to vote for whomever we want, that we shouldn’t be yelling at other people for having dissenting viewpoints. Sometimes people need to know when to shut up. In the end, nobody else needs to know your personal politics — not even family. It’s your vote, after all.