How to Deal with Politics on Thanksgiving

We will sit together at tables and in living rooms on Thursday.  We will be filled with emotions ranging from contempt to relief, from joy to sorrow, from bewildered to hopeful.  Some will still be experiencing disbelief  or righteousness from election day and may want to remain in the echo chamber with others who are still angry or prideful.  For those, however, who wish to move forward together, here are three basic suggestions:

  1. Focus on the ThanksGIVING

If discussions turn to politics, dig deep and give of yourself.  Listen with an open mind and an open heart.  Paraphrase what you are hearing so you can understand your counterparts.  Ask questions to explore.  Use the dialogue to open up doors, not to close people off.  Wherever someone else is on the political spectrum, their story matters.  So listen to it.  You don’t have to agree.

2.  Show the children

Our children pick up everything.  They are sponges for opinions, behaviors, values, and moods.  Show them that the adults in the family may have strong opinions but are able to share those opinions responsibly.  Show them that there are certain core values—respect, love, kindness, tolerance—that are steadfast.  Show them that anger and joy can be expressed with restraint of tongue.  Show them that sadness and righteousness are simply moods and not ways of living. 

3.  Seek common ground

Our tables will be filled with food that people took time to prepare, that guests brought.  Be sure to acknowledge this together.  We’ll be in one place with friends and family: acknowledge the critical significance of community.  Recall that dissonance and friction have always been present, always.  It’s how he manage this dissonance that distinguishes us.


For a specific guide on having a discussion about the election, use the following piece written in the New York Times

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