The day is fast approaching, and with it the looming threat of one of those conversations. Grandpa’s talking about politics again! The fights–and everyone else just staring at their plates hoping it will be over soon. I know
how much it can suck. But I need you to keep your head in the game (it’s a pep-talk, remember).
Boundaries are an expression of love. They are especially necessary with those you love dearly. And extra-especially necessary with family.
I’ve heard it said–far too often–that politics and religion should not be discussed around the dinner table. I call bullshit on that! It’s precisely because we’ve failed to have these conversations around the dinner table that we are so utterly divided along political and religious lines.
But we have to have healthy boundaries while we have the conversations. I’mma go full Brené-bro on ya! “Clear is kind.” Boundaries simply state what is and what is not okay for you.
“It’s not okay with me that you use that term. I find it offensive. Would you consider using a different term?”
“It’s not okay with me that you raise your voice when I attempt to express my thoughts. Would you consider giving me time to speak before you respond?”
“It’s not okay with me that you engage in and promote personal attacks. Would you consider expressing your thoughts and feelings without attacking another person’s worth or dignity?”
State, simply, what it was that someone did that is not okay (and if necessary why), and ask if they would consider a clear, active, positive change in their actions that would be okay with you.
And if they continue to cross your boundaries then let them know that you choose to not eat with people who disrespect you. Then leave. Then come back after dinner to see if you can sort it out. Hold to your boundaries, but be kind in doing so.
I know this is going to be so hard. They know how to push all of your buttons. Every single one. That’s what family does. But if you hold to yourself, your clear and kind boundaries, you can at least walk away from the table knowing you did your best.
Dinner isn’t a game or debate to be won. It’s a chance for people to share a meal and conversation. Do both with integrity. And, as Brené says, don’t forget to “speak truth to bullshit!”