How to talk about politics between adults in front of children

Children are very attentive to the way their parents speak in front of them. It is better to be aware when discussing politics, often intensively, to avoid slippage. Eight tips not to cross the red line.

Flavia Mazelin Salvi

A specialist in conflict management, the American psychologist Daniel L Shapiro uses the term "tribalism" when he talks about political discussions with his family. Camped on its positions, each one evokes its legitimacy, its expertise, even its family culture to justify its posture "it is" us "against" them "". In these intense exchanges, the tone goes up, the bad faith is invited at the table and, sometimes, the insults fuse. So many events that, for the psychologist, are likely to sabotage lasting relationships or intra-family. And these ravages extend to the children when they are present and that it does not come to the mind of any adult to speak to them to relativize and to tell them that even if it looks very serious, it is a little like a game, everyone ignites and then the volcano calms down.

Children taken hostage in parenting discussions

Children who attend their parents' verbal pugilates are taken hostage, especially if the exchange takes place at mealtime, and the exchange is an opportunity for their children. parents to settle their accounts. The child is not fooled, he hears scorn or reproach behind political arguments; he attends, impotent and uncomfortable, the taking of power from one parent to another, and according to his history and sensitivity, he sided with one or the other. What makes him feel guilty and hurts because, as hammered Francoise Dolto, in his heart, the child carries both parents and attack one or the other is to attack a part of the child.

Some tips

1- Warn the children that the discussion may not interest them but that the policy interests the parents because it governs our whole life.

2- Make sure you do not stop and apologize if you break the rule.

3- Avoid annoying others or diminishing them by using taunts, over-expertise, obvious bad faith, or, of course, insult.

4- Maintain a sound volume that does not evoke the argument.

5- Do not take advantage of the exchange to settle his accounts.

6- Do not give in to tribalism, each defending the values ​​of his family (real or political), the famous "us" against "them".

7- Propose to suspend the discussion if: the arguments turn around, if one or the other is on the verge of explosion, or if the discussion deprives children of any possibility of expression during the meal .

8- At the end of the discussion, remind the children that everyone has the right to express their opinion, that the important thing is not to be in agreement but to be able to express themselves freely and in respect.

Source: "Talking Politics at the Thanksgiving Table" by Daniel L Shapiro (Psychology Today).

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