By Alecia Rice
Q: I’m concerned about the holidays approaching and having family over with differing political views. How can we keep from arguing about politics?
— The Other Side
A: Dear The Other Side,
It’s definitely a sticky time politically. Many of us are consumed with this controversial topic. When we know it’s a hot button topic, staying away from the subject is great for self-care—as well as keeping relationships intact—especially when we’re getting together for a good time.
There’s a distinct difference between talking about politics and arguing about them. If your family argues rather than talks, that could get potentially messy fast, ruining your precious time together.
For the highest outcome without having to worry about arguments, I would suggest telling them that this will be “family holiday time” only. There will be no political conversations when you invite them, so you can truly enjoy each other.
You might even make up and suggest a “code word” that’s used as a signal of interruption. This “code word” should be explained and agreed upon ahead of time. Since the “code word” is created and explained ahead of time, everyone understands what the signal means.
While it’s easy to say that we won’t talk about politics, somehow, it’s more difficult to actually follow through with our intentions. The topic seems to permeate everything these days. If the topic does come up and you can’t seem to reroute the conversation, you might try playing the game of trying to stay out of “soundbite conversations” which often triggers both sides to disastrous ends. Most of us don’t realize that we talk about politics in soundbites. Attempting to talk about them using personal stories and experiences that explain why we feel the way we do, instead of talking about what we believe, can make the conversations more relevant and personal.
Try to stick with or reroute conversations around common ground topics like books,
movies, travel, weather, memories, what you’re thankful for, etc. Have some funny or interesting short videos that you can stream to enjoy, laugh at and talk about. You might compile a list of sentence starters that let people spontaneously fill in the blanks which can turn out to be quite funny.
Families typically get together to enjoy one another. With so much discord and strife in the world right now, it’s important to create as much quality family time with forethought as possible. Considering ways to do that ahead of time can be really effective in creating memories for a lovely family gathering.
Q: My teenage daughter has a cellphone that she paid for, yet we pay for the monthly service. Lately, she hasn’t been doing what’s expected of her at school or at home, because she’s distracted by her phone. She says that it’s not fair that we told her we will take the phone if she doesn’t shape up. What do you think?
— Removing Access
A: Dear Removing Access,
When it comes to disciplining youth, I think it’s important that the punishment fit the crime. When it doesn’t, they see it as completely unreasonable, and it’s questionable as to how effective it might be in the long run.
With the young people in our lives, it’s important that we find their personal “currency,” the thing that is most important to them, to use as a bargaining chip to motivate them to do what we think is in their best interest, as sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. For most, that would be cellphones, internet access, and access to cars for personal freedom.
My suggestion is to try as many other motivators as possible. Since teens feel that their cellphones are their lifeline to everything that’s important to them, removing them fully should be a last resort. If there aren’t other currencies to restrict, limiting their access to them or cutting back services would be best to try first.
That said, even though she purchased the phone, she doesn’t yet pay for it fully on her own. Therefore, I feel you have the right to use it as leverage to alter the behavior that’s connected with it. Even if she did pay for it 100% on her own, you still have the right, since she’s still living in your home. As a parent, you have to do what’s best to motivate her for her highest benefit.
Alecia Rice is a Spiritual Alchemist and a personal advisor for those ready to unravel their issues with conscious choices. She offers grounded perspectives for energy management and sage insights in columns, videos, and podcasts. Visit www.AskAlecia.com for more information. Submit personal questions and quandaries to email@example.com.