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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 (41-50):
redbutterfly666
by Bronze Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 2:45 PM


Quoting annabl1970:

That is probably very upsetting, espessially over Holiday dinner :(

Quoting redbutterfly666:

i hate it when my grandparents(dads mom and step dad) and my dad talk about politics on thanksgiving O.O my grandma always ends up crying and my dad always ends up pissed off.....i sit quietly most of the time


it is esspecially last year when my son was only 4 months old they started yelling at eachother, i had to take ds into the bedroom so he wouldnt cry because they were so loud

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 2:55 PM

:(  Poor baby

Quoting redbutterfly666:


Quoting annabl1970:

That is probably very upsetting, espessially over Holiday dinner :(

Quoting redbutterfly666:

i hate it when my grandparents(dads mom and step dad) and my dad talk about politics on thanksgiving O.O my grandma always ends up crying and my dad always ends up pissed off.....i sit quietly most of the time

 

it is esspecially last year when my son was only 4 months old they started yelling at eachother, i had to take ds into the bedroom so he wouldnt cry because they were so loud


Lizardannie1966
by on Oct. 8, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Nooooo...no political discussions in MY extended family. It turns ugly very quickly and particularly when my Mom enters into it.

As an immediate family--myself, my Dh and our kids--we thoroughly enjoy discussing everything under the sun including politics and religion and I think it's because my husband and I do not possess the "it's my way of thinking and nothing else will do" mentality my Mom has. We've always been open-minded and have taught our children the same. To be opinionated for sure, but to be reasonable and respectful enough to listen to opposite viewpoints.

Kaya529
by Bronze Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 3:00 PM
I used to discuss politics with my ex inlaws. We generally agreed on most things and could talk through the points we didn't without name calling and bickering. It was nice.
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Pema_Jampa
by SxyTaco on Oct. 8, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I cannot stand talking politics with my parents. It's always Obama is a n*****!!! It makes me want to slap them upside the head with the phone.


My mil to be has never has brought it up. Thank goodness!

Ziva65
by Gold Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:23 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Radarma:

 Loved this part most: (notice how it applies to us here too, lol)

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.

I feel that way with most people- particularly when it is a mutually respectful discussion even if on polar opposites, just not my inlaws LOL... I just play nice with them, not worth the argument. Been there, done that, not even interested in a "less boring" discussion.

Much easier with my in-laws just to make an excuse and leave the conversation... or the room... or play stupid, have the phone ring. I don't care how I get out of it, after 27 years...it's just not worth the frustration.

PeregrineWaltz
by Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:23 AM
I'm intelligent enough not to get into political debates with my mil, she used to be the campaign manager for a well known governor. We can usually keep politics off the table.
Goodwoman614
by Satan on Oct. 9, 2012 at 2:00 AM
When you've got no dog in the fight ('cuz you know your dog's the best), it helps you to relax and take notes on just why exactly somebody could love an ugly ol' mutt (in comparison to yours) the way they do. Sort of a sociological experiment.

(Too bad I always smell a patronizing ass a mile away, even as they congratulate themselves on their "handling" of the riffraff relatives they only see once a year, lol. They don't ever seem to catch on to the fact that they're being "handled" right back LMAO. Now pass that bottle of Pinot Grigio & I just might get to digest this Thanksgiving dinner. And you won't realize I still haven't answered your query regarding which candidate got my vote.)

I recommend the Pinot.
andiemomo3
by Andie on Oct. 9, 2012 at 6:48 AM
Yep. This is true in myworld also.


Quoting Peanutx3:

I refuse to talk politics with my in-laws.  We are on such opposite pages it really wouldn't go over well.  My in-laws are pretty closed minded.


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brandydesiree
by Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 3:07 PM
Just about everyone I know on more than acquiantance level is pretty conservative. I'm the most liberal out of everyone except my brother, who is a gay republican. I consider myself republican because I vote on economic/fiscal issues, not social. My in laws are very old school conservative. We don't ever discuss things like gay marriage or abortion (my biggest socially liberal ideology), but we agree economically. We tend to stick with those discussions. I'm not one to get easily offended though, so I don't think we'd have issues discussing things we disagree on. It's all about being respectful.
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