Saturday, November 2, 2013

A House Divided Needs To Tone Down The Debate

Dear Tazi:

I live in a house divided. My college student daughter (who still lives at home) has always had more moderate political beliefs than her very conservative father (my husband) but over the last few months, as Congress has become more and more contentious, so has the relationship between my family members.

I will admit that I have never been politically active, but I try to keep abreast of the goings on by reading the newspaper. My husband subscribes to the National Review and the Limbaugh Letter while my daughter prefers more liberal but mainstream publications like Time and the New Yorker. Both seem well-read, so when they go at it over the dinner table I find it hard to try and moderate between the two of them. I have tried to implement a “no political talk at the dinner table” rule, but they just move it into the den while I am trying to watch Wheel ofFortune and Jeopardy! Can you think of any way to put a halt to the cantankerousness between these two?

Stuck In the Middle

Dear Stuck In the Middle:

Since your family has found a way around your “no political talk” rule you will need to find a way to get them to respect each other’s arguments. If they refuse to agree to disagree, I suggest that you implement a “scholarly source” rule. As a college student, this is something that may sound familiar to your daughter.

None of the sources your family reads for their information can be considered scholarly, regardless of their popularity or media success. A scholarly source is one that uses hard and fast research and interviews with certified experts in the field, and keeps personal opinion and political slant out of the news that they are reporting.

The next time your family starts bickering, ask them to name their source of information; if they cannot, then the argument is to cease until they can show accurately researched support for their case. This rule will serve two purposes: first, it will give you the peace and quiet you seek; second, it will make the arguments that do occur better researched and therefore more difficult to argue against, since you cannot fight facts (no matter how much you try). Eventually, they may decide that it is not worth all the effort required; at that point you can suggest that they take their argument to the local coffee shop where such debate is regularly welcomed, giving them some father-daughter time and you house to yourself during your nightly TV programs.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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