JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -No matter where you turn, political conversations are all around us. We just wrapped up a statewide election, the impeachment hearings are underway and the 2020 campaigning is in full swing. So, how do you navigate politics at the Thanksgiving table?
Dr. Susan Buttross with UMMC has some ideas on where to start.
“Some families enjoy that a lot and getting into a real high-brow discussion," said Dr. Buttross who serves as Children’s of Mississippi’s Medical Director for the Center for Advancement of Youth (CAY). "But the truth is is in a family gathering where everybody is likely on different pages, you don’t want to end up in a conversation that perhaps may cause negative conversations and shut down what otherwise could’ve been a happy occasion.”
And as you set the table, go ahead and set the stage for the conversation.
“My suggestions would be before the dinner gathering, designate someone who is a good leader in that," noted Buttross. “Some who is viewed as perhaps the one who typically says the grace at table. Or if you’re not a particularly religious person, one who does reflections well. And get them to sort of kick things off. And it doesn’t have to sound like you’re saying, we can’t do this and we can’t do this but you’re saying here we are gathered together. So, start it off on a happy, soft, kind note and keep it there.”
And watch out for factors that could serve up a more awkward situation. If everyone’s tired from travel and meal prep, fatigue may keep you from keep a clear mind. And, then there’s alcohol.
“Make sure that you limit it," said Buttross. "Don’t engage with someone who you know has been drinking heavily because it’s very likely that they’ll be more impulsive and more likely to say something insulting.”
And if politics still come up, here’s something to try.
“You can say...now, remember we said we weren’t going to talk about politics," said Buttross. "So, let’s talk about you.Let’s talk about what’s going on with you. So, maybe bring the conversation back to something positive.”
Some other reminders from Dr. Buttross are to be respectful and remember that it’s not your job to change people’s minds, especially about tough subjects like politics.