It seems like this year’s Presidential election has polarized an already divided nation beyond anything most of us have seen in our lifetime—and the divide doesn’t look like it will smooth over anytime soon. If you and your ex-spouse held antagonistic political views before the election, you might feel like an already strained relationship is even more so these days. If you’re in a co-parenting relationship, and you need to remain in regular contact, how do you get on peacefully with an ex whose political leanings are drastically opposite your own? Here are some common-sense tips that might help.
Avoid talking politics
It seems almost obvious, but the best way not to fight about politics is to agree together not to discuss the topic with each other. Politics is not a vital point of conversation for most families, so avoidance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This approach might not work if one of you has a career in politics, of course—but in most other cases you can simply “agree to disagree.”
Find agreement where the children are concerned
One possible point of contention you’ll need to address is the way you both present your political views to your children. Just as some families must reconcile conflicting religious views, you must resolve how to approach politics with the kids, bearing in mind that both parents have the right to share these views with the children. One alternative approach might be to preface talk of politics with something like, “Your mother holds a different view about this, but…” This approach enables each parent to share political views while affording respect to the other. It also gives the children the freedom to process both viewpoints and make up their own minds eventually.
Focus on the common goals
Often in our workplaces, we must deal amicably with people of opposing viewpoints by focusing on the common ground (i.e., whatever project we are working on together). It’s really no different when we are working through a divorce or co-parenting with an ex. Your romantic relationship is over; now it’s a business relationship with a common goal in mind, and a person’s politics doesn’t necessarily factor into the equation anymore. By approaching your ex-spouse neutrally as a business associate, you can keep your opposing political views at bay by focusing on the goals you have in common, whether it’s raising your children or simply getting through the divorce itself.