In-Laws, Dinners and Politics: What Your Family Policy?Danielle Sullivan
The next few months will be particularly touchy for families and in-laws who don’t agree on politics (just think of the Jolie-Pitt family!). I mean isn’t it enough to
suffer through attend family get-togethers when a major election isn’t taking place?
There is the typical “I would never do that” from mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, siblings, parents…you get the picture. Then there is also, “I would never let my child dress like that”, “When I cook, I use this”, “Why do you let your child do that”, and a multitude of incomprehensible whispers and eyebrows (seen and unseen) raised in judgment.
So I ask, what kind of hellish family holidays are we in store for this fall?
Never having a policy on hosting family dinners before, our Christmas dinner after the last election became particularly heated. I had actually forgotten about it until the hoopla with Angelina Jolie and her crazy mother-in-law reminded me. It got me thinking about how many families and even groups of friends become divisive and outright juvenile when it come to politics.
So what’s the adult thing to do? Should we announce when guests arrive that politics are banned from the dinner table? When I was younger, whenever someone said that religion and politics should not be discussed in polite company, it struck me as odd. Since when did you have limitations on what polite conversation is and shouldn’t we, as adults, be able to politely disagree but still remain friends/family/in laws?
Unfortunately, in many families, that isn’t always the case. In fact, in many families, that’s never the case because invariably the political judgments turn personal. Then our kids, always watching, learn that it’s OK to attack a family member/friend. So maybe it IS a good policy to ban politics at dinner.
I don’t really know.
Even if we intentionally try not to talk about it, invariably, it will come up. What happens when something election related comes on TV? Perhaps a child in the room says something, like how they had to vote in school and then relates who they voted for, or who mommy or daddy voted for? Innocent enough, right? Until someone makes a snide comment at an unknowing child and then all bets are off.
What does your family do? Agree to not discuss politics at dinner? Ban it from family get-togethers? Or enjoy the banter and hope it doesn’t get ugly?
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