Keeping the Peace at the Family Dinner Table this Holiday

This is a highly unusual holiday season for many reasons, what with the ongoing pandemic gripping the nation as well as the continuing doubt being cast over the validity of the election results by the outgoing administration. These hot button issues carry the potential to ignite heated debates and arguments between family members with opposing views, which is no way to enjoy time with family especially considering the stress we are all under. What can you do to mitigate the potential for conflict and defuse any combustible conversations this holiday?

First, remember that the best defense is a good offense. In the context of family dinner, this manifests as your maintaining control over the direction of any conversations you engage in with others, avoiding any sensitive or volatile topics. You could also see to it that you are seated around family members who are more easygoing and less politically engaged, which would ensure your conversations stay light, relaxed, and positive.

Despite your best efforts to avoid it, you may find yourself locked into a conversation with a family member whose views are both passionate and in direct opposition to your own. Often politically engaged people cannot help but discuss politics in most every interaction they have with others. Should you find yourself in this situation, be honest with your family member and let them know you do not wish to engage in political talk during the holidays, as it would ruin the otherwise joyful and peaceful mood of the season for you. If they are unwilling to respect this boundary you’ve established, you can disengage from them without feeling guilty about doing so, as it is their lack of respect which has driven you away.

Now more than ever we could use a healthy dose of holiday cheer and time with family, as we have suffered through the endless restrictions and fears surrounding the coronavirus sweeping the nation. While we love our family unconditionally, generational and socioeconomic differences often result in varied and opposing political views among family members. We should strive to focus on positivity and togetherness during holiday celebrations rather than our differences. While you cannot change others, you can change your own behavior, so focus on keeping a positive attitude and setting healthy boundaries so you can enjoy your time with family this holiday!