How Can Politically Divided Families Come Together On Thanksgiving?

Jake Neher/WDET

Matt Friedman

This week, families across the country will gather together to share a Thanksgiving meal, and perhaps some awkward — and potentially painful — conversation.

Families have always had to contend with complexity and fragility, but this year’s fraught election season could spur a particularly difficult time for families around the holidays. Most families have differences of political opinion in their makeup.

So what are families to do? How can they heal from a difficult election cycle? How do loved ones move on and do just that, continue to love each other? Or is it too difficult for some families members to stay in contact?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with two experts on having difficult conversations, who come at them from very different perspectives.

It is important to get back to the questions of, what values led you to your vote? What would you like other people to know about what your vote means to you?” says Parisa Parsa, executive director of Essential Partners, which specializes in coaching individuals and businesses about having constructive conversations about the most difficult topics.

Those kinds of things help us get to our own humanity rather than that external candidate or policy position,” she says.

Henderson also speaks with Matt Friedman of the Tanner Friedman public relations firm. He specializes in crisis PR.

If you’re going to admit that there’s a crisis going on in your family, you have to commit - just like a company would - to fixing the crisis and trying to get beyond it,” says Friedman, who says another thing that can help families and businesses alike in these situations is leadership.

The tone is set at the top,” he says. ”So if this is a family with a matriarch and/or a patriarch who can set a tone and say ‘Let’s enjoy ourselves tonight,’ maybe set up some ground rules, maybe dictate the tone of a conversation, I think that can go a long way.”

Click on the audio player to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Library of Congress image

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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