Most of the time, you surround yourself with people who share your ideals. However, when it comes to family get-togethers, relatives you don’t see often may exasperate you.

Talk of politics, moral values, identity issues, and more can make people unintentional jerks. Especially in our current political climate, racism, sexism, and sexuality are all commonly broached topics. Here’s what to do if your drunk uncle, ancient aunt, or tone-deaf grandma starts spewing inappropriate opinions…

Prepare Yourself

Firstly, who might let something unsavory slip? Think about the person who is a potential threat to your peaceful family dinner. Do you already have an idea of who they are and what they believe? If so, you can mentally prepare yourself for the kind of conversation you are going to have.

Next, use that knowledge to prepare what you’re going to say during this conversation. You can try setting a boundary with this family member. Be polite but assertive and explain that you do not want to engage in a conversation about this topic. Phrases such as:

  • “I would rather not talk about ___ right now.”
  • “I would appreciate it if you didn’t bring ___ up again.”

However, someone insensitive to making others uncomfortable might not respect boundaries.

If you do choose to participate in a controversial debate with your “drunk uncle,” prepare your argument. Don’t bring flashcards, but do some research. Have some specific points to make, and obtain evidence to back it up. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to get flustered. This way, you will feel prepared to hash it out.

Stay Calm

It’s incredibly easy to get riled up about these kinds of topics, but that won’t solve anything. The more heated you get, the more your brain will shut down. Not only that, but regardless of your relative’s views, that person deserves respect. Screaming and cursing won’t paint you in a good light, and it’ll hurt them. Stay calm and eloquent in order to drive your point home and maintain good feelings.

Distance Yourself

If you’ve tried all of the above and you just can’t take it anymore, leave. This might seem drastic, but the only control you have over a situation is what you do. By leaving, you can give yourself a chance to cool down. Also, your relative can take a second and think about their behavior and how it’s affected you.

It’s (Hopefully) Just Dinner

Unfortunately, people’s minds don’t change over one conversation. Argue your point, but know when to stop. Don’t accept disrespect, but don’t dish it out.

You’ll make it through drunk Uncle Moe’s tirades, and you can always come vent about them at Supportiv!

Written by: Maria Stanica