Thursday, July 30, 2009

My relationship with my mom can't withstand our different political views

Dear Mom:

I'm a voting democrat; my Mom's a republican who works at party events, etc. Because we feel strongly about our views, we end up not being able to talk. What should we do?


Off the Ballot

Dear Off:

One of the things I've learned about being a mom is that my children will rarely, if ever, agree with me. And if they do, they will rarely admit it.

If you look at your friends you will also see that you don't relate completely on every issue, but often you are able to work through this difference of opinion simply because you like this friend and don't want to lose them.

The thing with family is that we are pretty much stuck with them. If they say something we don't like we usually don't resort to divorcing them. We may move away, but in the moving we distance ourselves from the possibilities we would have had if we'd stayed on and worked it out.
What I have also learned is that there are two heated topics in life; and these two topics get most of us up on our high horses. The first is religion, the second, politics.

The reason for this, I believe, goes deep. We are not just fighting a war about who gets the last Twinkie in the cupboard, we are warring about our innermost beliefs, and these beliefs cut deeply when someone we care about, and in this case, Mom, feels differently and isn't afraid to express her feelings either.

I have a family member whom I used to have to walk on eggshells with. There were certain topics of conversation that just made her angry. She felt I was judging her. That I didn't understand where she was coming from, and believed my way was the only way a person "should" feel.

For a long time, our relationship was built on our differences. We would talk, but mostly yell about why the other person was wrong instead of focusing on what we shared in common. This hurt both of us until we discovered that what we wanted was a healthy relationship built on trust and understanding.

And so we began focusing on topics other than our issues. In time, our relationship grew stronger, we spent more time together and there came a day when we could share our opposing views more openly; but this was only after we'd built a strong foundation first.

Perhaps you already have a strong foundation of trust with your mom. Perhaps you can talk about everything else; just not politics. If this is the case, remember your mom doesn't have to agree with you to be a good mother, and you aren't a bad son if you don't agree with her. Respect her feelings. Listen when she shares them. Acknowledge that her views are valid and important.

Though you might not always agree with them, she has a right to her opinion the same as you.


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