3 steps to get through a conversation when you’re the family’s liberal black sheep
Are you one of the few liberals in your conservative family? If you’re a black sheep like me you probably get stressed out when they ask you, “What are you doing, ya know, with your life?” Here are some ways to save your mental health and hopefully your family ties.
How do I survive current politics at family gatherings?
I’m headed to my partner’s family’s house for Thanksgiving. My partner and I do not agree with his family on political issues and I have a feeling that there will be discussions about the Midterms and other issues. I’m not sure how to handle them, if I don’t just hide away in the bathroom and ride it out. Any advice for surviving the holidays with a family on the other side of the big political divide?
Do I shave my armpit hair to keep the peace with my family?
Several months ago, I committed to stop shaving my armpits. My cousin is getting married in a couple of weeks. The wedding is a big deal, and will be pretty formal. My extended family dynamic is such that it will likely be perceived as a personal attack to the bride if I show up with hairy pits. I’m really conflicted. Do I just shave for the sake of keeping the peace? Do I hide my hairy pits? Or do I just say “Fuck it!” not make a big deal of it, and let my family and my cousin think what they think?
Learning to cope with a parent in prison
My mom went to prison for drugs, the first time, when I was seven years old. When my mom was arrested again, five weeks before my wedding, everything came crashing down on me.
I feel like it’s something that’s so taboo to talk about, even though (according to the US Bureau of Justice) over 2.2 million people were incarcerated in 2013. That’s a big, big number for something that isn’t regularly being talked about…
How do you keep the peace at joint family gatherings?
Our families are pretty different — liberal vs republican, generational differences, religious vs atheist — and once the drinks start flowing, it’s hard to manage the interactions. The whole thing makes me super anxious, and I don’t even want to have a birthday party for our kid because it will mean bringing the families together.
How do you manage different families? How do you keep the peace and still enjoy yourself at joint gatherings?
Trading a scar for an open wound: Being estranged from my mother
For years, my mother accused me of testing people and trying to see how far I could push them before they left me. She was right about that much, but she never saw the why. And neither did I. Because I was too afraid to admit that terrible truth and to give up the pleasant fiction I had created about my mother. But, like all realities, it was true whether I admitted it or not. And, eventually, even I could no longer pretend and my house of cards crumpled to the ground, leaving me alone, naked of all pretense, and cast out by my mother.
How do you talk about deal-breaker topics?
(Un)Fortunately, we can’t always convince everybody to agree with our personal brand of freedom and equality. By now I have realized that screaming “This is so unfair! Why don’t you want to understand?” is not the smartest way to begin any kind of conversation. How do you cope with constant mentioning of idealogical deal breakers — homophobic, racist, misogynic, and many other discriminatory comments — with people you can’t necessarily break things off with.
Triangles, boundaries, and Spidey Senses: Ending relationships with difficult family members
Remember that post about how to maintaining a relationship with difficult family members? I’m about to drop some deep family secrets on this site today. My solution to maintaining relationships with difficult siblings is this: Fucking DON’T. I don’t know if I can offer the definitive advice on the topic of ditching difficult family members, but I can offer up a few insights from my own 30+ years of experience…