Black Sheep

Dear Emily, 
I’m having the hardest time keeping the peace within my large family in regards to Politics. My parents are old and Republican. They are set in their ways, but I’m the liberal child apparently. I try to explain how it hurts me to see them defend the current president’s acts. It makes me sad to think they have that kind of hatred, or allow that kind of hatred run our country. I know I can’t change them, but when they try to ‘poke the bear’ of political discussions, it always leads to me not wanting to be with them for awhile. I am good at setting boundaries and have asked multiple times not to bring up politics while we are spending time together, Facebook seems to be the loophole in that. I post one of my views and I get a response that I am being ridiculous of some sort. As I appreciate differences in opinions, we need that or life would be boring, I don’t know how to say, just shut the fuck up, without hurting them. 

Thanks for your wise advice, 
Black sheep/liberal child/shit starter

Black Sheep,
In today’s political climate, it’s hard to not view opposing views as opposing moral beliefs and values. How am I supposed to want to maintain a relationship with someone who truly, truly believes that the morally repugnant Donald J. Trump is the best leader for the United States of America? The man was accused of raping a 13 year old. He made fun of a reporter with disabilities. He really, really seems like he wants to fuck his own daughter. He’s a shit bag full of garbage and my honest hope is that he does something so fucked up that the people I love who support him can no longer defend him. What I’m saying is, you’re not alone in this. This man has driven families apart, and it’s sad. However, you have some options.

  1. Block them from seeing your political posts. If you don’t want their opinions, don’t let them see yours. When you’re making a FB post, click “who can see this” and type in their names to block. It’s the easiest solution. It avoids conflict. But, yes, it does make it so that you’re not constantly showing them that you do care and that you won’t stop caring.
  2. When they bring things up in person tell them, “I love you and I want to spend time around you, but when you bring these things up it hurts, and it makes me not want to be around you. Please stop.” If they continue or chide you for being a “snowflake”, leave. Just straight up leave.
  3. Engage in conversation in person, don’t do it on FB, just don’t. Arm yourself with facts, and with your own feelings on issues. It’s my personal opinion that we have a responsibility to let our loved ones know how we feel about how they vote. This article was written nearly a year ago, but is a great tool for how to talk to family members.

If you decide to talk to a family member about why you vote the way you do, bring up personal experiences or use the example of loved ones. For example, some people with vaginas need birth control to regulate their very serious medical conditions. This administration wants to take away coverage of medication that relieves extreme pain because they want to control uteruses. Another example, I have queer family members and friends. Mike Pence believes in conversion therapy, which has been proven not only ineffective, but harmful to the LGBTQIA+ people who are forced into it. The HRC and other human rights organizations have aimed to ban the practice. Tell them that LGBTQIA+ teens are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, and that nearly half of trans teens have tried to kill themselves. If that doesn’t tug at their heartstrings, tell them that Trump is bad for women. He’s bad for the middle class. He’s bad for older adults, who largely are the ones who voted him into office.

You also need to listen to them. Hear their reasons. There are counterpoints to every reason they bring up, but you have to listen. Don’t raise your voice. If you need to take a break, tell them that you’re glad your talking about this and you want to continue, but it’s a little overwhelming and you want to take a break. When you do take a break, talk about what you love together. Sports, food, memories, etc.

Politics have become moral battles, that’s where we’re at right now. If you have to cut people out of your life for that, honestly go for it. I don’t want to be friends with anyone who thinks that children’s lives aren’t as important as their right to own a gun, or that the defunding of prenatal and postnatal care isn’t tied directly to whether or not some women decide to terminate their pregnancies or not. Sometimes we have to set boundaries in that way.

This has been a long and heavy post! You all can tell that I’m passionate about human rights. I guess that’s why I became a social worker! Anyway, Black Sheep, it’s a really sticky situation and I wish you the best. You’ve got me on your side. Please write in with an update if you decide to have some chats!

Hugs and also lots of beer,
Emily

PS Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all the Canadians who have so kindly welcomed me into their country! Hope your sugar pies and beaver tails are great today, eh (I have no idea what you Canadians eat on your weird before Halloween Thanksgiving)!

 

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