While on a roadtrip recently to visit with family, we stopped for lunch and ended up getting into a political debate. Surprisingly it wasn’t just my husband and I that were debating, our two children joined in as well. Between the four of us, we were getting quite loud and I had to remind my family that were weren’t the only ones in the restaurant. This brought to mind a certain quote from an interview of Richard’s:
“I find New Yorkers incredibly engaging. They’re like Parisians …cool and confrontational, in a good way, in a good way, like they like a good debate. …you walk into a restaurant and it’s not full of people silently sitting in front of each other like it can be in England; it’s full of people pointing fingers in each other’s faces having a really good political debate, or whatever.”
Our debate took place in a Midwestern McDonald’s but that seems fitting, in an All-American kind of way.
It was kind of ironic seeing as how I’d spent the majority of the trip trying to avoid controversial discussions, as I always do during gatherings with extended family. So it struck me as funny that it came pouring out over a quick meal of cheeseburgers with my husband and kids. I guess I feel safest with them and know that whatever I say won’t cause them to treat me differently afterwards.
Once upon a time I’d throw my opinions in the ring with the best of them, but I always walked away feeling badly. I let my passions get the best of me and either offended who I was conversing with or walked away feeling bitter because I was offended myself.
These days I prefer more an exchange of ideas rather than an actual debate. I don’t need to be right but I do need my conversation partners to be willing to entertain various viewpoints.
All in all, I try to bow out of heated discussions during Holiday get-togethers whenever (and however) possible.
The risk to personal relationships, not to mention my own peace of mind, isn’t worth it to me in the long run. If you need me, I’ll be at the kid’s table; the “grown up” table is overrated.
6 thoughts on “Do You Want Fries with That?”
glad you survived the extended family gathering and sounds like fun times with your own, it is nice when a good debate engages even the kids 🙂 Parents who talk about stuff with kids are great 🙂 Wish i had that kind, not so lucky.
RA obviously hasn’t been around the pubs i hang around in in London 😉 or any of my friends 😉
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my mom was always pretty open with me about things but most of the time it was only her opinion, the hows and whys of the situation weren’t really explained. I try to touch upon both sides of an issue when talking with my own kids. they know which side I fall on but I try to let them know that they don’t have to agree with me.
I can’t really imagine Richard taking part in a boisterous finger-pointing discussion. sometimes you have to jump in and talk over people, which I don’t think he could do.
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To me the thing about arguing with family is that I will pull back because I know they will be with me until they die or I die, whichever comes first. I don’t necessarily feel that way about other relationships (and it doesn’t mean I haven’t had some rip roaring fights with family members). I have had friends where we’ve had a sort of consensus about themes we will avoid because they make us fight.
my brother’s wife and my husband adhere to the unspoken rule, set by the rest of us, not to discuss anything political during family gatherings b/c they’re on opposite sides of the political sphere. she gets a rush from the arguing, throwing in taunts like it’s a game, while my husband wants to have an informative discussion. it just results in everyone talking over one another and nobody really listening.
Yeah… I like to pick my battles, I’m not a confrontational person myself either, more of a ‘peacemaker’. Sometimes, however, I will go all the way in argument… and in then end agree to disagree without too many hard feelings… hopefully.
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the thing about “agreeing to disagree” though, is that the other person needs to be agreeable. if they’re not, then I end up being the one to swallow my pride and concede to keep the peace. if I’m always the one doing that, then I might as well just stay quiet