How to avoid political debates at your Thanksgiving table

CHICAGO -- Family gatherings can be a stressful time. This year, differences over the outcome of the election could make gathering at the Thanksgiving table even more emotional.

ABC sought professional help to navigate the possible dinnertime divisions.

"I'm just feeling a little bit anxious about being with them, hopefully trying to keep down any sort of contentious debate during meals," said Chris Rodenbaugh, a Loyola student.

Attilio Guelfi is preparing to step in as a mediator, if need be.

"I have a stronger voice as I grow older so I feel like they respect my opinion more. So, I feel comfortable around them, they're family of course. I just try to make sure we all stay friends after holidays," Guelfi said.

"You do have to rehearse with yourself how are you going to engage in these conversation and what are your limits. And know that you do have a choice," said Dr. Sonya Dinizulu, University of Chicago Medicine.

Dr. Dinizulu, a clinical psychologist at University of Chicago Medicine, suggests thinking about your limits ahead of time. She offers some lines to protect your mental health if the talk threatens to taint your appetite.

"Just remind them, 'Aunt Sophie, I love you. We disagree on these things and that's OK,'" Dr. Dinizulu said.

"I think the best policy in regard right now in regards to relatives, loved ones -- and by the way, full disclosure: my wife is not the same party I am -- is not discussing certain kinds of topics," said Professor Al Gini, Loyola University's Quinlan School of Business.

Professor Gini suggests from personal experience announcing a "politics free zone." And if the conversation strays into deep water, distract with a splash of humor.

"There are two things you don't talk about at a job interview: sex jokes and politics. Just don't bring that up. And this is more volatile than sex jokes. In fact, my suggestion is: tell the joke, don't talk politics," Gini said.

Maybe have some clean jokes handy to diffuse the situation. Professor Gini adds if you're the one who goes too far, offer a genuine apology and agree to disagree, then move on.

Dr. Dinizulu also likes to strategy of distraction. She urges all to remember the commonality, shared history and that time together can be precious.

Other distractions could be: "Who wants pie?" or "How about those Cubs!"
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