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Do I Really Need To Discuss Politics With My In-Laws?

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Talking politics with your in-laws may be as pleasant as reclining on a bed of nails, but in an election season it's hard to get away from it. I'll pass over the bland advice of being compassionate and understanding and arm you with strategies. A good question can take the place of name-calling and mud-flinging.

I was on a plane recently, and the man sitting next to me was reading a hunting magazine. I am not a hunter, but I know several people who hunt who are nice human beings. They have helped me when my car was stuck, they have let my grandchildren play with their dogs--they're good people. And I am interested in learning why hunters are against gun control. So I began the conversation with a compliment. "I have a question," I said. "I think most gun owners and hunters are responsible people. I don't understand why they would be against gun control when often, they support having driver's licenses, boater's licenses, and they themselves get hunting licenses."

He said, "Well, that's a good question." He in fact felt that automatic rifles should be regulated. He then went on to say that the National Rifle Association has so worked up gun owners to believe that any regulation would prevent them from ever getting more guns or ammunition that they are buying up more ammunition than they will ever use in their lifetime. He felt the whole issue was an economic one. The gun sellers were making too much money to ever allow the issue of regulation to be solved. Now, I realized we had something to go on, a way to begin a conversation and maybe even be a way to craft legislation that would guarantee rights to buy ammunition, but to also control automatic weapons. Those who want to control guns sales and responsible gun owners could probably find a compromise and at least something to talk about.

But you say, "My in-law's are just out to bait me -- they're looking for a fight." So, instead of engaging in verbal warfare, divert the conversation. "Aren't we lucky we agree on so many things. We both love your child, we love the little grand ids. And we are lucky to live in America where we can agree to disagree." Tone is everything here. It makes the difference between a snide remark and a peace offering. A smile and a happy voice signals, "I don't want to change my opinion any more than you do," while a sneer signals disdain.

But if you want to expand your understanding and maybe have an interesting conversation, find an issue you are curious about, one where you truly would like to find out how and why someone could possibly think differently from you. Then ask a question with kindness and curiosity. Don't plan to convert or convince, rather try to find things in the other person's position that interest you and that you're curious about. It's better to try to connect on that point rather than the big ideology where you'll clash. Asking questions and finding out how others think is far less boring than just being nice and avoiding any "hot" topics. Being with your in-laws might just turn out to be a fascinating experience a chance to find out how the other half thinks And like living with a family in a foreign country, you get to see how they operate.

If the answers to questions in the political arena were easy and there were no confounding influences we would have solved all human problems. Adults have a right to differ, and if we want to make peace in our families, we have to try--and I mean really try--to see things to understand the other's thinking. Only then can we differ with respect.

by on Oct. 8, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Replies (11-20):
caito
by Silver Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 12:46 PM
1 mom liked this

I don't discuss politics with my family. They all know I'm liberal and I know they're all conservative. My parents and brother are actually more moderate, but the rest are straight up flag-waving gun-toting yeehaw America conservatives. There's nothing to discuss, lmao :D

Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 12:50 PM
No way would I engage my in-laws, particularly my FIL. He is of the assumption that laws should be bible based.
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Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Pretty much the same here. I politely keep any views to myself that might strain our relationships. I've actually told my mother that I love her too much and value our relationship too much to discuss politics with her. She's so extreme that she comes unglued during any discussion with anyone who doesn't agree with her.

Quoting caito:

I don't discuss politics with my family. They all know I'm liberal and I know they're all conservative. My parents and brother are actually more moderate, but the rest are straight up flag-waving gun-toting yeehaw America conservatives. There's nothing to discuss, lmao :D

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EireLass
by Ruby Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 12:56 PM
1 mom liked this

I don't get involved. My husband and his parents have very different political views. They talk about it, but they're all very loving and mature, so it never gets ugly.

GLWerth
by Gina on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I tell DH's family: "I do not discuss politics or religion with anyone to whom I am related."

If they don't back off, he lets them have it.

He's much more vicious about it than I am.

His sisters don't bring it up anymore after he's gone after each of them. It's so much better to let him deal with them than me. (And more fun) 

 

Godgaveme4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:01 PM
1 mom liked this

 We do not discuss politics in our family.  In fact I do not know who maost of my family votes for.  I know 2 of them are for sure democrats and vote for Obama but that is all. 

Ialso know that many of them have an issue with our philosphy on guns.  Sometimes they make little comments but we choose not to respond.  We know they are not in aplace to hear our answers.  So we ignore and continue on with a conversation.

GLWerth
by Gina on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:03 PM
3 moms liked this

My 85 year old FIL is a secret liberal these days. He's been a card-carrying Republican for most of his adult life, but W. Bush changed him over, he says that the party isn't the one he knows, so he voted for Obama and is planning to again.

But we're not supposed to tell MIL, because he doesn't want to have that argument.

Quoting Stephanie329:

No way would I engage my in-laws, particularly my FIL. He is of the assumption that laws should be bible based.


TB78
by on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:12 PM
I used to talk politics with my in laws but have now stopped after I found out the REAL reason why they want to vote for Obama again.....Because "Rommineney is a Mormon and if he becomes president then there will be more polygamy marriages because that's the Mormon way" <--FIL words lol
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chrlstoncharmed
by Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:27 PM

My inlaws hate us, so there is no discussion about any topic. Yay me! lol

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The guidelines set forth in this article are only going to effective when the in-laws are reasonable people. I remember the first time I told my MIL that my husband was a kind, thoughtful, generous man and that she likely played a huge role in that. I mentioned that she must be so proud. I was met with a glaring stink eye and a "hmmm".

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