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Is it safe to talk politics during Thanksgiving Dinner?

by Yucatan Times
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Psychologists and diversity, equity, and inclusion experts told USA TODAY how families can chart a course through, or around, landmine-filled political discussions this year and enjoy a happy holiday.

Avoiding political discourse

Holidays are known as a time when people come together. Sometimes that includes individuals who wouldn’t normally choose to be around each other, said Joshua Coleman, psychologist and author of “Rules of Estrangement.”

And as families start to discuss controversial issues, underlying dynamics can rise to the surface. Those may include longstanding family disputes, sibling rivalries, or other lingering feelings, all of which risk being triggered around the holiday dinner table, Coleman said.

If the goal this holiday season is to avoid conflict, he suggested that, before knocking on a relative’s door, people proactively weigh the situation they’re entering.

“It’s useful to kind of take your own temperature about your readiness to be in that environment,” Coleman said. “What’s the likelihood that it’s not going to go well, and you’re going to end up regretting having gone?” 

Why is Thanksgiving controversial for some people?

Although most Americans view Thanksgiving as a beloved holiday, it is viewed by many who have abandoned the holiday as an erroneous celebration of what was actually the conquest of Native Americans and Native American lands.

Approach with empathy

When political debate is inevitable, the key to keeping the conversation civil is to approach the other person’s point of view with curiosity and understanding, rather than disdain.

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