7 Ways to Deal With Closed-Minded Relatives During the Holidays

It's to be expected that the holidays bring about gratitude, happiness, and full stomachs. However, it's also to be expected that topics that should never be discussed amongst family will be brought up at Thanksgiving Dinner, such as politics, religion, and anything else controversial that you can think of. In preparation for this inevitable conflict, here are some tips to help you get through potentially awkward holiday dinners.

1. Duck and cover.

Sometimes it’s better to avoid what you can, especially if you know nothing will come of it or if your wellbeing is at stake.

2. Find a buddy. 

Communicate with your sibling, cousin, or favorite aunt ahead of time to make sure you’ll have someone supporting you.

3. Know your facts.

If you know that that one certain uncle is going to say some ignorant stuff about a certain thing because, come on, it’s uncle Joe and he always does, and you feel the need to say something, make sure you do your research. Keep up to date with recent events, and read a couple newspapers in preparation.

4. Understand the ways your own experiences of privilege and oppression have influenced your view on the world.

It is unlikely that you will completely change Uncle Joe’s mind or Aunt Tammy’s prejudice, but you definitely have the power to change your own mind and reexamine the prejudices you may not have known you had. Just because you think you’re “woke” doesn’t mean you necessarily are. Read some articles, watch some videos, and listen to what your friends with different experiences have to say. You might learn something you didn’t know before.

5. Crack a joke.

If your relatives are the silly type, teasing them for their inaccurate statements may be more productive than halting conversation to call them out.

6. Tell a personal story.

Relative: “These black lives matter people are just rioters.”

You: “I went to a protest once and we mainly sang gospel songs. We did some chanting too. There were a lot of kids there and someone passed a container of strawberries around. I experienced nothing but kindness.”

7. Celebrate the holidays with a new family.

Sometimes, ignorant family members are far more than nuisances; they’re harmful. If you don’t feel safe and happy with your biological family, there’s nothing wrong with thinking up an alternative plan with a friend or two. You deserve love, security, and happiness this holiday season and always.