How to avoid conflict at the Thanksgiving dinner table

Posted at 7:39 AM, Nov 24, 2016

Dan Roberson is expecting at least 30 people at his families Thanksgiving celebration.

"A lot of people, and a lot of opinions," says Roberson.

He's worried those opinions might lead to confrontation, but he'll do what he can to make sure nothing too crazy happens.

"I'm gonna try and keep the peace," Roberson says. "I'm gonna try and say that the election is over. but we still have to get along."

Others, like Lonnie Kellogg say they expect it to come up, but don't think it will cause any issues.

"We'll throw a lot of punches," he says with a smile, "but the beauty of politics and family is that nobody gets hurt."

Psychologists like Sara Depuis don't agree, though. She says the stress of the holiday coupled with the election season can lead to serious conflict.

"A typical Thanksgiving season is filled with all sorts of stress cause we're dealing with family dynamics," explains Dr. Depuis, "but then you add onto it the political environment and season and I think it's a recipe for what could potentially be some chaos."

Depuis suggests setting boundaries to not talk about politics at dinner, or politely discuss each other's opinions beforehand.

"I think you can set boundaries in gentle ways so reminding family members that Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate connection and shared interests," Dr. Depuis says. "and that maybe there are some hard feelings and emotions that maybe we don't want to delve into."

That approach is what Cathy Lucas has taken throughout the election season.

"No religion, no politics, it's about family, it's about love, because at the end of the day, family is all you have," Lucas says.

It's worked in the past for Lucas, and she expect it will work on Thanksgiving day.

Psychologists suggest trying to politely change the subject, and if that doesn't work you should step away and take a few minutes to relax.