By Shania Pagan
If people are going to agree on anything about politics, they can agree that the last four years of the Trump administration in the White House, brought to light a deep divide within the population of this country.
U.S. politics has consumed the media over the last year, causing it to become practically unavoidable in educational and professional settings. It was once considered rude to discuss politics, now it’s more rare to find people who haven’t publicly expressed their views in one way or another.
The opposing views of modern political ideologies are vast and intense. It’s no surprise that some supporters on either side of the spectrum have reached levels of complete intolerance for rivaling standards and mindsets.
This divide goes further than the branches of our government, or the protests on the street. It’s right in our own homes. An added benefit of social distancing regulations was that we all didn’t have to be together in person for the transfer of power to President Biden’s term.
However, that didn’t stop the explosive arguments and increasing feelings of division amongst families in this country. Politics deeply affects family bonds. It can be the cause of destruction for any relationship whether that be distant relatives or even direct family members, specifically parents.
When the hardest opposition to your beliefs is coming from the very same ones who raised you, it’s impossible to not be impassioned with every discussion that you have with them regarding politics. Here are four tips for communication that I personally use with my own Republican parents that help ease the burden of speaking whenever “Biden,” and “the radical left,” are mentioned.
As passionate as you are to your beliefs, your parents are just as sure of theirs. Healthy communication is fragile, and when both sides of the discussion are made to believe that the other is entirely false, it’s difficult to get a complete thought across without escalating the situation.
Letting others explain their thoughts and feelings without interjecting is hard, especially when they reject causes or specific issues that you couldn’t imagine not supporting. It’s important to realize that you are arguing against a mindset that is far larger than an individual who supports it. Listening and trying to understand why it exists is the first step towards coping with it.
2. Take A Breath
Heated discussions lead to heated words, and once you let a little bit of emotion out, it’s nearly impossible to contain it again. Knowing your limit and when to bite your tongue is not just a way to keep the peace in the relationship, it keeps the peace in yourself as well. Political discussions and disagreements have a significant impact on mental health.
According to a 2021 study by the American Psychological Association, 69% of Americans say the future of our nation, as well as the current political climate over the past year, brings them significant stress.
3. Know When To Walk Away
If you have family members of opposing political views, you know that sometimes the expression “talking to a brick wall,” doesn’t even cover the reality of how hard it is to make your point understood. The back and forth of arguments of who is right and wrong, could quite literally go on forever. If boundaries are repeatedly crossed and you feel like disrespect is intolerable, end the conversation. Whether this is hanging up the phone call, or walking out of the room, choosing your own mental sanity is worth more than winning the argument or shouting the loudest.
4. Don’t Stop The Conversation
When you truly care for someone and have a relationship worth investing in, pushing through the difficult periods is what makes all the difference. Post Biden’s confirmation of presidency, I went two weeks without speaking to one of my own parents because emotions were too high and full of negativity to have any significant worth.
However, that period of time didn’t last. The only way to make change is to keep the conversation about the issue going, and taking breaks from the topic can be helpful to all involved in the discussion.
Any change worth being made, does not happen overnight. Having parents who seem to have a completely different mindset than you can be damaging to a person’s identity and feelings about each other. Making an effort towards having productive conversations that are healthy and respectful of both sides, are always worth a try.