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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Getting through family visits when their beliefs clash with ours.

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Author Topic: Getting through family visits when their beliefs clash with ours.
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

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For many of us,the next month means more time with family. Whether we're visiting them to celebrate a holiday, or spending time at home while on break from college, we will--if we don't already live with them--spend more time with family members than we usually do, and for some, more time than we prefer.

Long stretches of family time can be particularly difficult when we don't agree with family members' stance on social or political issues, or they give us a hard time about ours.

This article reminded me of how challenging it is if we have an otherwise decent relationship with family, but clash with them on issues we're passionate about.

I'd love for this to be a space where we share our strategies for coexisting---during short visits--with family--and friends--when our beliefs don't mesh with theirs. The way we approach this when we live full-time with people we don't agree with is likely to be much different than if we're just visiting.

What constructive approaches have you tried that have worked really well for you and have resulted in positive, or at least neutral, outcomes? What have you found has made visits home more relaxed and enjoyable even when you and your family know you don't agree on some points that you all find important?


Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 101745

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I try to have a few "emergency topics" on hand that I can pull out if I feel like conversations are going in a direction I'm not comfortable with. That way, I can have a few stories to tell or more pleasant conversations to start without having to come up with something on the fly in an already-stressful situation. These might be stories about what my pets are doing, a project I've done at work, something interesting I read or watched lately... anything that's engaging but not particularly controversial.

I also think working with another family member can be helpful. In the past my brother and I have each watched out for each other and have tried to change the subject when a topic that the other one of us doesn't want to talk about comes up in conversation. I know my mom's tried to look out for me when I'm around my grandmother, who can sometimes be mean to people or go off on political tangents that make others uncomfortable.

Finally, if I really need to get away, sometimes I just announce "I'm going for a walk!" and escape outside for a bit.

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Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

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I think that Mo's "emergency topics" is a really good strategy. Expanding on that, an "emergency topic" doesn't even have to be something that you and the difficult person can have a conversation about. It can be something that they would be happy to talk about for a while, like a favourite sports team, a television show, some music, that maybe you don't know anything about or have any interest in, and you can just make encouraging and interested noises every so often. Or perhaps the "emergency topic" is something that someone else is interested in too, so you can just sit back and let them talk together (making the occasional interested noises, of course [Smile] ), avoiding whatever subject was about to be hurtful or difficult.

Also, I know that this wasn't what Robin was asking, but I did want to put the thought out there. There's often a lot of focus on family around holiday time, and that can be very overwhelming if you don't have family, or if they're too harmful to be close to. I wanted to say that if that's you, that's ok. It doesn't make you a failure or mean you should've tried harder, or mean that you should be obliged to put yourself in a situation that will harm you. If they've been harmful to you, it's not your responsibility to try to fix it or ignore it, even at holiday time.

The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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