On November 2, the day before the election, I got a text from a family member, sent to our family group chat. “Don’t forget to vote tomorrow!” it read.
My initial reaction was to be irritated. I knew that this family member had political views that were pretty much exactly opposite of my own. Was the message meant to be provocative? To remind me of their opinions? To intimidate?
But after a deep breath, I made a conscious decision to not assume anything. I took the message for what it was, and replied in a family0friendly manner: “Already did!” I wrote, sending a picture of my daughters placing my absentee ballot in the mail.
This year, tensions are running high for everyone. With the country almost evenly divided on who would best lead us, it’s fair to assume that many families are split as well. And yet, it’s a time when we all need the people we love more than ever. Here’s how 4 moms are making it work.
Put Ego Aside
During the lead-up to the election Elizabeth Hicks found herself constantly arguing with friends and family who had different political leanings than she did. When she realized that these discussions were starting to impact her relationships, she knew it was time to reevaluate.
“I came to the conclusion is that we, normal people, argue not to convince others but to win for our egos,” Hicks says. “None of us is really listening to the other but actually trying to prove ourselves more witty and right. In doing so we are hurting each other.”
Now, Hicks is less likely to engage in political conversations. When she does, she uses research and tries to listen with an open mind, rather than falling back on talking points and stereotypes.
“This allowed me to stick to what I believe is right political while I keep good relations with my friends and family,” Hicks says.
Know The Limits of Conversation
Clarissa Sidhom doesn’t always intend to talk politics, but finds herself falling into those conversations.
“Politics is on everyone’s mind, and if we’re not careful, we’ll immediately get on the subject,” she says.
She’s realized that having the conversation over technology like phone or video chat is not productive, so she’s trying to be more conscious about staying clear of those conversations.
“We have realized that our options are so different that technology is not the proper space for these conversations. In fact, perhaps the best thing to do is agree to disagree and work toward finding common ground and unity.
Michele Madsen has taken a similar approach with her family members.
“I’m just shutting up and not saying much. They don’t want to listen to different viewpoints so there’s no point in stressing them out,” she says.
Recognize Your Boundaries
Alexi Laine feels fortunate that most of her friends and family have similar political views to her. However, when an ex-boyfriend with whom she was still friendly expressed that he as voting for Trump, Laine ended the friendship.
“To me, that was akin to him sanctioning all the horrors that the Trump administration levied on minorities,” says Laine, who is Black. “Non minorities tend to look at the last four years through the lens of politics. Those who were suffering, who feared and still fear for our lives and our loved ones lives, know that this was not simply politics, it was willful, depraved and inhumane treatment of people of color, of LGBTQ people, of poor people, of every marginalized group.”
Lydia Elle, another Black mom, agrees.
“It is something that I instantly take notice of as my cue to leave the space,” she says. “The differing view means more than just opinion for me, but indicates, for me, that it could be jeopardizing to my safety.”
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