How do you smooth things over when your family has hugely polar political beliefs?

Jo Brand / 14 August 2018

A reader is fed up of Brexit making family get-togethers tense and stressful - can she fix it? Jo Brand advises.



Dilemma: Brexit is dividing my family

My parents, who are in their late eighties, voted Brexit in the referendum.

Rightly or wrongly, my children, who are in their early twenties, feel rather let down by them. They’re poles apart on this issue and it’s making family get-togethers tricky.

How can I try to smooth things over? 

Jo Brand's advice

I think many families were split by the Brexit vote and, as far as I’m aware, quite a few family members are still not talking to each other.

Politics is a long-standing argument-starter and many families ban the subject from their dinner tables when relatives get together. This is because it so often engenders such passionate but intractable opinions.

In the case of Brexit, a lot of younger people feel resentful that the older generation has scuppered their future by voting for a situation that may not have a long-term effect on some older people.

This demonstrates what we used to call the generation gap. Because life has changed so quickly, technologically and socially, many younger people have a totally different outlook to what they consider to be their somewhat right-wing grandparents, and this is what is getting in the way.

To be honest, I don’t think you can sort this out completely. It will have to be avoidance of conflict rather than a good old set-to and resolution.

I think it’s safe to say that neither side will change their views, so you have to choose either not to discuss politics when you’re all together or agree on some stop point if it all gets out of hand. 

It sounds as though it’s all got a bit heated already.

Perhaps you need to explain to your grown-up children, if you haven’t already, that your parents made their decisions in the light of a very different culture, in which immigration was rare and the EU didn’t exist.

You probably don’t see each other that often, so I hope on the occasions you are together that full-on war doesn’t break out.

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