Holding A Civil Political Conversation With Your Family

Politics may be one of those conversations that can lead to a series of disagreements at the dinner table. Having to choose sides in an argument can be a very awkward experience. Despite the possibility of holding opposing views from your family, it is always important to remain respectful. 


When discussing politics with your family it is vital to understand where their side of the argument is coming from. The media makes it difficult to practice this respect because of how radically different the political spectrum is painted to be. Both political parties possess inherent negative stereotypes of one another, which oftentimes leads to the automatic discrediting of others' differing political opinions. Holding political conversations with your family, however, can spark a sense of curiosity and a greater understanding of what the other side has to share. Being able to address and confront an important issue while respecting the viewpoints of your relatives can ignite a sense of trust within these relationships. 


In my personal experience, I found that my relatives often brushed the conversation away whenever I tried to talk about politics with them. They would either encourage me to talk about something else or simply say something along the lines of “...what do you want to eat for dinner later?” Rather than being able to hold this conversation with my relatives, I was often shunned away. They knew we would have different opinions on such heavy topics and chose not to discuss them. 


Nick Miller New Girl GIF Dinner GIPHY / 20th Century Fox Television


When navigating through these political conversations, I found it most useful to remember that my personal opinions were valid, regardless of the fact that my family may disagree with them. In highly tense moments, I believe it is best to steer clear of such heavily loaded discussions. Holding a civil political conversation is important, but setting boundaries prior to these discussions is essential in maintaining a healthy discourse. Rather than directly opening the conversation with a negative comment towards the other side, you can start the conversation with a more open-ended question or statement. Creating space for discussion and ideas to bounce off each other can produce a more open and civil conversation, as opposed to a heated and uncomfortable argument. 


Sharing personal experiences is another alternative to directly addressing a political topic. The media is quick to fact-check and present a series of statistics that support their side of the argument. Using factual points to prove your side of the argument can be effective, but this may be perceived differently by your relatives with opposing views. I found that it was easier to use my personal experiences as support for the opinions I held about various topics. This humanizes the issue to your family, making it easier for them to understand where your opinion stems from. 


Families to come together and celebrate each other’s presence. At times this can be overwhelming, especially given today’s political climate. In spite of the tense moments, such conversations can hold, remember to always treat people with kindness.