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5 Ways to Discuss Politics With Your Family

By Danny Huerta, MSW, LCSW, LSSW
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Family discussing politics
It is critical that we teach our children how to discuss politics with others - both inside and outside the family - in a loving, respectful way

Elections are just around the corner, so political discussions have likely taken place at your dinner table, family gatherings, and in your children’s classrooms. Even though many of our kids may not yet be old enough to vote, we need to equip them with foundational disciplines that will help them think deeply about their values and beliefs and be able to discuss politics.

From an early age, kids begin to take in the world around them and start developing their belief systems. Many of our beliefs — whether for good or bad — become framed as political issues. Parents set the culture in their home, which includes setting the tone for discussing politics. Whether you’re a news junkie or a news avoider, these five ways to discuss politics with your family will help your kids to develop their beliefs, think about current issues, and interact with others lovingly and respectfully.

Teach Your Children to…

1. Be Humble

Humility is a key ingredient for building relationships. Through humility, kids learn to see and appreciate other people genuinely. Humble people are loving people, and loving people are relational and influential. Humility is essential for discussing politics lovingly and respectfully. 

Being humble helps us see political conversations as invitations to learn about other people — what they think, how they see the world, and why they believe what they do. Humble people ask questions and seek to know the other person out of care and concern. 

As a parent, one way to model humility to our children is by listening. Active listening is an excellent way to understand another person’s perspective, thoughts, and beliefs. Discussing politics is not always about sharing the same ideas and opinions as another person, but it is about showing respect. Your children will observe how you listen to people who may not share the same beliefs and political stance, and they will learn by your example.

2. Learn to See

Our kids must learn discernment when it comes to consuming news, media, and what others say when they discuss politics. Kids must learn to sift through facts, opinions, and popular thought as they develop the foundations of their beliefs. 

The apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “But test everything; hold fast to what is good.” Parents and kids alike need to be diligent in testing every piece of information that we see or hear against the Word of God. Doing this will help our families keep a godly perspective on political issues and will guard our hearts.

Remember to ask God for wisdom when learning about current political issues. Ephesians 1:17 tells us that if we ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” The Bible tells us, “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21). Asking Him for help to understand the issues at hand will help us see things from His perspective. 

Teach your kids early what it means to have beliefs, and discuss how they drive each of our thoughts and actions. Discuss the beliefs and values that you have in your family and why you see them as necessary. Do the members of your family have different perspectives on these beliefs? Remember to actively listen, model respect, and discover the other person’s point of view. 

3. Reflect

Encourage your children to think at a deeper level about political issues. Reflect on thoughts and actions. Recognize that they can reflect what is going on in the depths of our souls. At an appropriate age level, discuss politics and political issues with your kids. Discuss why they are important and how they stack up against the values in your home. Have open and respectful conversations about the actual issues and why people may feel strongly about certain ones. Reflect on the issues as a family. 

Remember, 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Take some time to reflect on this verse. In what ways does the current political climate need to align with Biblical principles and truths? Are there things that we need to change as a country in order to return to right standing with God? Discuss these as a family.

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4. Respond

Political issues can quickly divide a home, a friendship, a community, and a nation. Reacting to one’s political beliefs does not help; however, responding can. 

Relationships grow and deepen when both parties listen and try to understand one another. The truth is, when discussing politics, you can rarely convince another person to believe what you believe. However, our kids need to learn how to articulate what they think and why. Teach your kids that humility will positively drive their responses and help prevent their emotions from taking them for a ride. As parents, we must model this for our kids. If they see us reacting to others in heated, emotional, or angry ways, they will be more likely to respond the same way in their discussions. 

Titus 3:9 says, “ But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” There are undoubtedly critical issues to discuss, but if we fall into the trap of reacting rather than responding, it can send us spiraling down the path where we begin to argue about everything. 

Questions such as “Help me to understand why you believe that?” can break down barriers. You can learn a lot about a person when you talk about their political point of view. 

5. Stand

What things do you physically tend to stand for? Is it a standing ovation at a theatrical or musical performance? Or do you jump to your feet when your team scores a goal? Do you rise to your feet at a wedding when the bride walks down the aisle? What other things does your family stand for?

The word “stand” can be used in different contexts. Standing is one way for us to show respect, reverence, admiration, relational interest, or conviction.

What are you firmly standing for out of conviction or because of your beliefs? What we stand for with conviction tends to have deep roots that continually grow, like a tree. It’s important to realize that when you try to convince others to think like you, you may be trying to uproot a deeply rooted tree. Teach your kids how to stand with respect and genuine care for those around them. 

One way to show this care is to pray for our leaders – no matter which side of the aisle you stand on. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 instructs us to do this: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Regardless of whether or not you approve of the current leadership, God’s Word instructs us to pray for them and to pray for our country. 

Discussion Questions

Discussing politics with others can be a great way to share the love of Christ. Share what the Bible says about current topics, and be sure to share your beliefs with a spirit of love.

Here are some questions that you can discuss with your family surrounding current political issues:

  1. What are some ways to discuss politics within our family and remain respectful and loving? 
  2. What things does our family stand for? 
  3. What are some ways that we can show humility in our conversations with others? 
  4. What are some ways we can respond to others rather than react to them? 

Final Thoughts on Discussing Politics With Your Family

There will always be disagreements over political issues and beliefs. Imagine if our families learned to discuss politics with humility as the foundational ingredient? What if our kids used discernment to develop their core beliefs? How would our kids benefit from a mindset focused on contributing to the good of relationships rather than looking out for themselves? 

Suppose our children learn to have these discussions within our families first and remember to have them with humility, discernment, and a good understanding of their core beliefs. In that case, we can uphold our most important values while our relationships flourish.

© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. 

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