This Thanksgiving could be one feisty holiday!
Our country is split down the middle with the results from the recent election. Tension and anxiety, which can normally be high around Turkey Day, have the potential to be off the charts should the conversation turn to politics. Anticipating that, what might be a good strategy to keep connection with family when the topic turns to Trump’s triumph?
Mark Reinecke, chief psychologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says in a recent Chicago Tribune article, "There's a level of tension and pressure that's just naturally there [at Thanksgiving]. Beyond that, you're bringing together family members who don't get together very often. It's been a divisive couple of months. They're going to share their thoughts and opinions.”
OK, so hoping the topic won’t come up is simply not realistic. We need a viable Plan B. Reinecke coaches: ”if it's a family where this could become ... divisive, then it's probably best to not talk about politics. It’s a tug of war. Just don't engage in it.”
Right! Don’t engage!
Repeating “Don’t engage” as a mantra might help keep you leaping into the fray. But what if after a second Merlot you happen to slip and find yourself in the deep end of the political debate?
In her article “Dreading post-election Thanksgiving? 4 tips for survival,” Jessica Roy speaks directly to this happenstance: “Remember that you technically love these people. When you're talking with someone at Thanksgiving, try not to confuse the importance of the topic you're discussing with the importance of the conversation you're having.”
Yes this is my brother I am speaking to after all. I grew-up sharing a room with him for Pete’s sake! Presidents come and go. My brother is still my brother no matter what happened this November!
If keeping that healthy perspective fails to halt the slide into the abyss, clinical psychologist Elaine Ducharme offers an escape hatch: “If you find yourself getting upset by the conversation, take a personal time out, head for the kitchen and start to clean up, go entertain the kids, or even take a trip to the bathroom.”
Admittedly not the most gallant plan, beating a hasty retreat could help you avoid rupturing family ties. In the long run that may be the better part of valor. Also you will get a head start on refilling the dishwasher!