Miami Valley experts share tips to heal family political divisions

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – After a heated election season, President Joe Biden called for national unity during his inaugural address. Miami Valley experts said the process to mend political divides in households will take time and patience.

University of Dayton Department of Education Chair Joe Valenzano said when opening up difficult conversation about politics, instead of taking the offense or defense, find common ground.

“Try to even back track and stress those area of common values,” Valenzano said. “We all value democracy, we all value being in this country, we all value each other and our relationships.”

Clinical Counselor Cynthia Treasure said talking about politics is actually a discussion on values, and can be tied to strong emotions.

If the conversation gets heated, lower the temperature by listening to each other’s views or taking a time out.

“Being respectful of those, being open to different perspectives, and being open to having the time to digest the information on both sides of what’s being talked about,” Treasure said.

Treasure said, if necessary, plan the conversation beforehand and set ground rules to make sure everyone stays on course.

Dean of the College of Education at Cedarville University Kevin Jones said as part of that conversation, recognize that putting all faith behind a single candidate loses sight of the issues that require unity to solve.

“We pray for our leaders, didn’t say worship them,” Jones said. “We’ve gone to praying for them to right out idolatry, on both ends of the spectrum, which is dangerous. We can pray for our leaders together. It can be a Democrat, a Republican, Independent, Libertarian, we can come together and say let’s pray for our new leader.”

“When we personalize politics to the degree where we wrap success, failure and our own belief system into one person we inevitably are going to be disappointed, stressed out, and it’s going to cause serious damage in our interpersonal relationships,” Valenzano said.

Jones said that families need to find other ways to come together and build a foundation around faith or commonality. He said it’s also important to establish forgiveness before any tensions can be resolved.

“Which calls us to walk in humility, and walking in humility means many of us have humiliated ourselves with the things we’ve said and done, and there will be an extension of that humiliation having to go back and say I wronged you there,” Jones said.

These experts said there shouldn’t be pressure to have these conversations right away, and understand that it could take time to see eye to eye.

“I think it’s important to begin thinking about having these conversations, begin planning how you would have these conversations in an effective, calm manner, and if things get really, really heated, there’s always family therapy where you can have that facilitator to help people come together,” Treasure said.

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