As I’m sure so many of my fellow Americans can relate to, “disappointment” doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel about the fact that a Trump presidency has now become our reality. Despite the fact that more Americans appear to have voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, we are in for four years of Trump’s America. I feel like I’m in mourning, and I’m genuinely frightened about what Trump might try to do —or undo — while he’s in the Oval Office. I can’t pretend that I’m not upset with the Americans whose votes have secured Trump’s spot as the 44th President of the United States. That said, I refuse to allow my feelings about Trump to keep alienating me from the people I love, so I’m focusing on post-election topics to talk to family about instead.
The thing is, most of my relatives voted for Trump — but I still like them a lot. Since disowning them is not something I want to do, it’s up to me to figure out how to communicate with my relatives about election results in a healthy way. I don't expect it to be easy, either — heck, I've already had to break up Facebook fights between my Trump-supporting my family and my fellow liberals today. It’s disheartening to say the least, but it’s only strengthened my resolve to stay as empathetic and understanding as I possibly can toward all American voters.
In that spirit, here are six things to talk to your relatives about now that the election is over.
1. Your Boundaries For All Future Political Discussions
If you (like me) count yourself among the 40 percent of Americans who have felt tension with loved ones over this election, then you should probably set aside some time to talk to your family about your post-election boundaries. If you don't think you can handle any political discussions with them for the foreseeable future, tell them that. If you think you'll be able to talk about the election with them in time, but right now it's just too upsetting for you, say so. Whatever you need from them right now, be assertive about it.
It's your right to set boundaries with your loved ones, so don't be afraid to be direct with them. Make it clear to your family and friends that you want to maintain a healthy relationship with them going forward, but you can only do so if they make a genuine effort to respect where you stand. If you're feeling as shocked and heartbroken about this election as I am, then you might want to consider waiting a few days to have "The Talk." Take all the time you need to emotionally prepare yourself, and then prepare yourself some more by checking out this expert advice on how to establish boundaries with your family.
2. Why You Feel The Way You Do About The Election Results
Whether you and your family disagree on politics or not, I think it's important to be open with them about why you feel however you feel about Trump being voted into the White House. If your situation is like mine, though, then you probably shouldn't try to share your post-election feelings with family today, tomorrow, or even the next day.
Personally, I know I can't talk to my family about the election right now without getting reasonably upset about it. Trump's presidency threatens the civil rights of women, people of color, disabled people, the entire LGBT community, immigrants, and all American Muslims. Trump could potentially undo the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage, he's been accused of alleged sexual assault by multiple women, he has no experience in government, and the KKK loves him. Understandably, this social liberal is terrified. Moreover, this very rational fear I'm feeling is something I know I'll have to find a way to talk to my family about very soon.
Not all Trump supporters are mean-spirited, and your family needs to understand why you're scared right now. That said, I know it's difficult to talk to your family about these things when you don't share the same political beliefs. If you want to talk to your relatives who support Trump but you're just not sure how, check this guide out.
3. How To Talk To The Children In Your Family About Trump's Presidency
No matter what differences of political opinion you and your folks may or may not have, it doesn't change the fact that many American girls are feeling discouraged and disappointed that we won't be seeing a female Commander in Chief for at least another four years. So if you have nieces, nephews, young cousins, or kids of your own, you and your loved ones need to talk about how you're going to answer any questions the little ones might have about Trump and his presidency.
Remind the little girls in your life that Hillary Clinton's loss doesn't mean they aren't capable of achieving their dreams, but be honest with them about how much work is still to be done before we'll see a woman in the Oval Office. Try to comfort the kids in your life who are worried about seeing their Latino and Muslim friends deported, but don't pretend you can single-handedly keep them in the States, either. Above all, be honest with the children in your life, and ask your family to do the same.
4. Why You Love Each Other In The First Place
If your family doesn't share your political beliefs, but you want to stay close with them, then now is the time to focus on why you love them. For me, this means dwelling on all the times my loved ones have rescued abandoned animals, talked me down from anxiety attacks, respected my decision to abandon religion, or told me I could do anything I set my mind to. Whatever helps you remember why you love your family members who voted differently than you did on election day, cling to it.
5. How You're Going To Keep Politics From Ruining The Holidays
Thanksgiving isn't far away, and after that there's a whole slough of other family-oriented holidays to celebrate. This time of year should be fun for families, but in light of the election, this holiday season could be super tense if clear boundaries aren't set. If you're concerned about post-election banter ruining your holidays, talk to your loved ones about it. Personally, I'm going to ask for a complete ban on Trump talk while I'm in the room. I just don't know of any other way to have a happy holiday season with my family, but luckily, I have total confidence that they'll respect my wishes on this. If you feel the same way, speak up about it.
However you choose to do it, it's imperative that we all have each other's backs right now. America has made it's decision, and that can't be undone. What we can do is try to love and protect one another, no matter what comes next.
Images: Elizabeth Enochs, Bustle, Giphy/(2)