I hate the way politics has divided this country, especially my family. My father hates Hillary Clinton with the same degree of passion that I hate Donald Trump. Whenever we get together we end up arguing. At this point I don’t want to visit him again until the elections are over. That’s how bad it has gotten. The last time my wife and I had dad over for dinner, he didn’t want to listen to a thing I had to say about the topic. We just ended up yelling over each other. My wife said he can’t come over anymore if he’s going to behave like that in front of the kids. Nobody wants it to get to that point but I’m struggling to maintain peace. I’m really disappointed that my dad is voting for Trump and has been taken in by all his rhetoric. Dad refuses to listen to any opinion that doesn’t echo his own. I’m not sure what can be done at this point to change his mind about Trump and bring some cohesion back into our relationship.
It sounds like your dad isn’t the only one who won’t listen to any opinion that doesn’t “echo his own.” If you two are screaming over each other that means no one is hearing what the other has to say. You’re not listening to him as much as he isn’t to you. If I were you I wouldn’t focus on keeping score of who has the most closed mind, because it sounds like you’d both be tied.
You’re not going to change his mind about Hillary any more than he can change your mind about Trump, so stop expecting him to adopt your way of thinking. If the only way your family is going to experience cohesion is for your father to abandon his convictions than I would suspect you two are going to be at odds for a very, very long time.
I know politics can be a divisive subject that leads to flared tempers and heated exchanges because my own mom and I are political polar opposites. I’ve even cautioned women not to get involved with men who have different political ideologies, but you can’t dump your dad so you’re just going to have to be willing to compromise. The thing to remember is he was your dad and your children’s grandpa before he was a Trump supporter. Politicians come and go but your dad will always be your dad.
You want peace? Initiate it. Call up your dad right now and tell him you love him and hate the tense situation between you two. Tell him you miss him and that his grandkids miss him and you want him over for dinner. Just dinner. No ulterior motives like trying to “change his mind about Trump.” Just dinner.
Tell him you respect his opinion even if it’s different from your own, and that you respect him even more as your father to agree not to bring up the topic of politics again. Then tell him you’re sorry for the fights and disrespectful words you two have exchanged.
When he comes over for dinner again, keep your promise not to talk about politics. Talk about what’s been going on in your life, your wife’s life, the kids, the game, or the weather, if you have to. Ask your dad how he’s been and what’s going on his own life. Reminisce about the past and laugh together. There are a hundred different, more meaningful things to talk about other than politics.
It sounds like the two of you are very similar. Having strong opinions and convictions isn’t necessarily a fault. However, it becomes an issue when you both place having the “right opinion” over having mutual respect. You have to respect your father but your father has to respect that he is visiting your home. If he brings up the subject of politics politely steer the conversation in another direction. If he persists remind him that it’s your house and you prefer to leave politics at the doorstep. Agree to disagree and move on.
Your wife is right, to an extent, that your children don’t need to witness you two quarreling all the time, but I don’t think banning your father is the answer. Children need to see that people can love each other and still disagree. You and your dad have an opportunity to set that example. Let your children see in you humility, respectfulness, and unconditional love in your willingness to put the effort into restoring and maintaining your relationship with their grandfather. Keep that in mind the next time you and your dad exchange heated words, which you will, because no relationship is perfect. Just make amends and start over.
You and your dad are going to be stuck with the results of this election for at least the next fours years so this is something you both are really going to have to work through. I have no doubt you can do it. I think you guys will be OK. I really do.
[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Has this election season divided your family]