Tips To Keep the Election Results From Spoiling Your Family’s Thanksgiving

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Two National Louis University psychology professors say that arguments don’t need to happen, and offer tips for hosts and guests to use to keep peace in the family. Below are a few of the tips.

“When someone is talking about their politics, you don’t have to engage. You can just listen without having to insert your point of view. Remember that the relationship is more important than ‘being right’ on a single issue.”

Emotions are running high after the election, and the headlines continue to spur heated discussion. For families with members on both sides of the political aisle, that’s a perfect recipe for clashes at Thanksgiving dinner.

Two National Louis University psychology professors say that arguments don’t need to happen, and offer tips for hosts and guests to use to keep peace in the family. Below are a few of the tips.

1. Start from a place of loving each other, and remember that despite differences, bonds of family unite everyone, urged Claudia Pitts, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at National Louis University. That mindset will set the tone for the day.

2. When guests walk in the door, hosts can ask them to write at least one thing they’re thankful for on a poster board, or even on paper leaves hung on a decorative branch. People feeling grateful for blessings aren’t combative, commented Susan Thorne-Devin, LCSW, assistant professor in National Louis University’s counseling program.

3. A “defuse, distract and decline” strategy can keep the peace. “Defuse means to soften what others say—for example, if someone implied Hillary Clinton was a warmonger, you could say, ‘oh, I see you’re worried about the safety of people in other countries,’” Pitts said. “Distract could be, ‘How did you make this delicious stuffing?’ And decline is more direct: ‘I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to ruin the holiday.’” Then change the subject to something neutral. Conversation–starter ideas include food, entertainment or shared memories.

4. Invite a buffer person, such as a friend who has no relatives in town, suggested Thorne-Devin. Family members who usually squabble might put on their best behavior because a new person is present.

5. No one can control what others say, but they can control their reaction, Thorne-Devin reminded. “When someone is talking about their politics, you don’t have to engage. You can just listen without having to insert your point of view. Remember that the relationship is more important than ‘being right’ on a single issue.”

6. Guests can set up a code word, such as “bananas,” with someone who will have their backs, suggested Pitts. If the conversation starts getting heated, they can say to their safe person, “Did you buy the bananas?” and he or she can rescue you by changing the conversation topic or whisking you away to help in the kitchen.

More tips are available on how to avoid election stress at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year at http://www.nl.edu/turkeytalk, and NLU professors Claudia Pitts and Susan Thorne-Devin are available to comment as well.

About National Louis University
Founded in 1886, National Louis is a nonprofit, non-denominational University offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields of education, management, human services, counseling, public policy, and others concerned with human and community development. From its inception, National Louis has provided educational access to adult, immigrant and minority populations – a mission it sustains today. National Louis is well-known for an exceptional history in teacher preparation, and continues to be a leader in educating future teachers and community leaders to succeed in urban environments. For more information, visit http://www.nl.edu.

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Kellie Kennedy
The Harbinger Group
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