Your friend’s politics are getting on your nerves. You need to figure out how to fix this without destroying the friendship.

When it comes to friendships, diversity makes all the difference.

It’s important to have things in common, but most solid relationships are built upon a foundation of complementary contrasts.

But as possible as it is for Yankees and Red Sox fans to be friends, some differences are harder to reconcile. When a friend or loved one holds an opinion that suggests a fundamentally different view of the world from your own, it can be painful and confusing.

You guessed it: I’m talking about politics.

Political views don’t define a person, but it’s easy to think that way in the wake of a challenging and polarizing political season.

Once you develop a negative opinion of someone based on their politics, it’s no easy task to scrub that feeling away – even if it’s an old friendship with lots of great memories.

If you want to preserve a healthy friendship or save a sinking one, here are some tips for when your politics and your friend’s politics just don’t match.

If you want to stay quiet.

During this past election, I was shocked at how differently some of my friends felt about who should be president.

I was so disappointed to think that someone I trust and care about could have such a fundamentally different view of the world. Sometimes loitered around Twitter and Facebook pages to see what they were posting, even when I didn’t plan on writing a response. I just wanted to follow my friends’ political discussions.

Eventually, I realized that if I wasn’t going to disagree with them publicly, it was pathetic to resentfully stalk their accounts. What I’d find would only disappoint and anger me. It can be so addicting to read comments and posts from people you disagree with, but unless you want to speak up it will only hurt your friendship.

If you believe that friendship and politics don’t mix, here are some strategies on staying sane for the next four years:

  • Block them on social media. Unless you see someone regularly, social media is the best way to stay in touch with them. It’s also the easiest way to find reasons to hate them. Unfollowing them on Facebook or Twitter can make it easier to maintain the friendship, especially if they’re particularly vocal about politics.
  • Install a browser extension. People began complaining about too much political content on social media during the presidential election. Now, developers have responded with browser extensions that scrub your news feeds of anything political. They’re not foolproof, but they can minimize how many political posts you see.
  • Talk to them personally. Asking your friend not to mention politics via text, email or social media is hard, but asking them in person is much easier. Tone is misunderstood less often when people are face to face or on the phone with each other.

If you want to speak up.

Of course, not all of us can or even want to stay quiet. Maybe you feel passionately about an issue. Whether you are disagreeing with your parents, other relatives, or friends, it’s important to be careful as you move forward.

Here are some suggestions on how to disagree with a friend’s politics without offending or upsetting them:

  • Seek to understand, not convince. Author Jason Vitug of You Only Live Once said in the last year he’s been surprised at how many loved ones he disagrees with on politics. Instead of ignoring what they say or arguing with them, Vitug tries to understand how they came to that conclusion and asks them why they believe what they do. Doing so has made him more compassionate and less dismissive. “I’ve learned for the most part that all of us want the best, but how we get there will differ,” Vitug said.
  • Find common ground. The differences between your mother-in-law’s politics and your own can seem like an irreparable gulf. Instead of focusing on what you disagree with, find opinions you have in common. The less you see someone as an enemy, the easier it will be to stay friends.
  • Learn their stories. Like Vitug, writer Julie Rains of Investing to Thrive said she asks people their reasons for holding a certain opinion. She often finds that their background informs their opinions more than she realized. She said it makes it easier to see their point of view after finding out what their stories are.
  • Avoid name-calling. Disagreeing about your friend’s politics is like arguing about any other topic. Once you start name-calling, a friendly disagreement can quickly turn ugly. No matter how heated the discussion gets, try to keep your cool. The more respectful you are, the better the chance for your message to get through – and for your friendship to survive.
  • Send a private message. Disagreeing on social media can turn sour quickly, especially when emotions are inflamed. The public nature of the medium can make that worse, allowing for strong opinions to pile up and aggravate everyone involved. If you’re tired of fuming quietly, consider reaching out to your friend privately. You’ll be able to work out your differences on a more personal level, rather than duking it out in front of all your followers.

It’s been a bruising political season, and things aren’t getting any easier for many of us. We need to view our friends’ politics like adults, and work to keep conversations civil.

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Parenting is one of the hardest jobs around. It’s not any easier with your ex. But your kids will be better off if you can suck it up and coparent effectively.

Parenting is a hard gig.

It’s even harder when you do it with your ex.

Even when you get along with your ex, it can be challenging to coparent successfully.

No matter how you feel, though, it’s vital that you work on your coparenting game so your children are better equipped to deal with the divorce and with life going forward.

1. Commit to coparenting.

The very first thing you both need to do is commit to coparenting. Coparenting successfully requires solid commitment from everyone involved.

Talk about how you plan to coparent in the best interest of your child. Then both of you commit to the process. Even if you need a mediator to help you hammer out a plan, the important thing is that you are both committed to making this work.

2. Create consistent rules.

One of the most important things for children is consistency. It’s true when kids live with both parents, and it’s especially true when children split their time between households.

Come up with rules that kids follow, regardless of where they are. This might include homework time, music practice, rules for electronics use, and bed time.

While there is wiggle room for special circumstances, it’s important to be consistent. My son knows that when he goes to stay with dad, he’s going to do schoolwork and go to bed at the same time. I know he might actually get a little more time to play video games when he’s with his dad, but that’s something we’ve agreed on.

3. Don’t trash talk your ex.

Avoid putting your issues with your ex on your child. It’s not fair to use your child as a pawn in games with your ex. You don’t want to be the toxic person in this scenario.

If your child complains about your ex, don’t immediately jump in and agree. Remain as neutral as possible. Unless there is actual abuse involved, most kids just need to let off steam. You can say, “I’m sorry you’re frustrated with the situation, but they are trying their best.”

I’m pretty sure my son sometimes complains about me to my ex. When he does, my ex moves on quickly, and then lets me know about potential issues. I don’t confront my son when he’s complained about me. Honestly, I want him to share these things. Then I know what I might need to improve on.

I do the same for my ex.

Kids complain about their parents. Don’t egg them on when it involves the ex. Not only do you risk a deterioration in that relationship, but you might be surprised to realize that trash talking your ex can encourage your child to resent you as well.

4. Maintain communication.

One of the reasons my ex and I coparent successfully is that we communicate regularly. We exchange texts several times a week. We talk at least twice a month. In fact, we sometimes just talk as friends and don’t talk about our son.

You might not have that level of friendship with your ex.

Even if all you do is communicate about the kids, that’s important. Be sure to immediately share when things change that will impact the plan. Whether it’s a trip to the emergency room or a problem at school, or just an update on positive progress, it’s important to communicate.

Don’t rely on your child to carry messages. You need keep the lines open so you don’t get garbled messages. When my son wants to make a major purchase (more than $50), or if he wants to change up his after-school schedule, I text my ex and we schedule a time to discuss the merits.

This way, our son can’t play us off each other. We present a united front because we communicate. My son is used to hearing, “Just wait. I need to talk to your dad about that.”

5. Confirm what your child says with the ex.

Yeah, this goes with regular communication. But it bears repeating. Get the story from your ex. If your child says your ex said they could do something, double check.

It’s a normal part of growing up for children to press boundaries and try to get away with stuff. You did it with your parents, and your kids will try it with you. Even if you aren’t divorced, there’s a good chance you’ll hear “But mom said I could…” or “Dad lets me…”

Before you say yes to something your child claims your ex is on board with, connect directly with your ex to verify.

6. Make time to keep it simple and boring.

Don’t always be trying to have fun — especially if you’re the less-seen parent. My ex is pretty good about stuff. When my son stays with him, they do “regular” things and not just fun stuff.

Try to avoid being the “fun” parent all the time. Both parents need to be a mixture of fun and “boring.”

Sometimes what your kids need is an ordinary day in with you. There’s nothing wrong with that. You need to be balanced in your approach to parenting.

Because my ex lives on the other side of the country, my son talks to him frequently using Facetime and he stays for between one week and three weeks at a time. I often stay part of that time, too (at my ex’s invitation), and that means there is a sense of normalcy and family, even if it’s not what we consider a “traditional” family.

7. Recognize your ex’s good qualities.

Don’t forget to talk about your ex’s good qualities with your child. It’s about more than just refraining from complaining about your ex. You should also point out the good things s/he does.

I regularly direct my son to my ex if he has a question about something that my ex is good at. I also make it a point to say nice things about him when I can, and get excited when it’s time for them to talk.

I think it makes sense to encourage my son to maintain a good relationship with his dad. If you want to coparent successfully, you need to make sure that you aren’t putting wedges between your children and your ex.

8. Don’t get upset if your child requests your ex.

Sometimes my son specifically asks if he can talk through an issue with his dad, rather than talk about it with me. I know that my ex is better equipped to handle some situations than I am. I don’t get upset about it.

It’s true that sometimes we feel hurt if a child wants to talk to someone else or prefers someone else’s help on a project. However, the reality is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. There are some things that my son prefers to do with me, and some he prefers to do with his dad. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Realize that your child has needs that your ex might be better at fulfilling. That in no way reduces your importance to your child. To coparent successfully, you need to bury jealousy and work together to ensure your child has the best possible outcome.

9. Know that it will be difficult.

Buckle up. It’s not easy to coparent successfully. It’s a little easier for me because my ex and I are on good terms and genuinely care about each other still.

Even then, it’s still challenging sometimes. There are times I don’t want to discuss things with him. It would be easier for me to just make all the decisions about our son without input from my ex.

However, that’s not fair to him or to our son.

It can be hard to bury feelings and put on a civil facade, especially if you had a hard breakup. However, it needs to be done. Think about the welfare of your child.

If you need to get mediation and/or counseling, do it. In some cases, you can benefit from family therapy, even if you aren’t a “traditional” family anymore.

Parenting is rarely easy, and doing it with your ex adds another layer of complexity. However, if you are both committed, you should be able to make it work.

Do you have to coparent with your ex? What challenges do you face? Even if you have a partner, do you run into parenting problems? How do you resolve them. Join us on the #Adulting community on Facebook and share your stories.

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Tired of feeling lonely and left out as everyone around you finds true happiness with a partner? It doesn’t have to be this way. Embrace solo life.

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Is everyone you know getting together with someone?

We’ve all been there. You’re routinely the only person without a “plus one.” But does it feel like it’s getting a little ridiculous?

There’s nothing wrong with being single, and some people even love it. But it’s hard to get comfortable with solo life when you feel like everyone else is finding true happiness while you miss out.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you are looking for a special someone to spend part of your journey with, you can still enjoy the solo life.

Concepts

  • Society focuses a great deal on relationships, and that can add to anxieties about finding “the one.”
  • The basic need of belonging.
  • How the idea of marriage as a societal need influences us — and why it might be wrong.
  • Pressure from social media and the need to show off a relationship.
  • Some of the drawbacks of living the solo life.
  • Problems with feeling desperate and settling for someone.
  • How to strangle feelings of jealousy for your friends.
  • Tips for learning to love being alone.
  • Ideas for finding other people to spend time with while still enjoying the solo life.

Plus, don’t miss out on this week’s “do nows.” They focus on developing non-romantic connections with people in your area so you don’t feel as big a hole when you don’t have an S.O. and setting a “date night” with yourself.

We’ve also got a great listener question about how to deal with those nosy folks who keep bugging you to find a boyfriend/girlfriend and “get on with it.”

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Resources

When everyone around you is in a relationship
The AtlanticSociety will be just fine without marriage

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Disagreeing with your parents is just fine. Do it in a way that doesn’t make them see you as a perpetual child.

When you’re raising a child, arguments seem pointless.

Why should anyone have to suffer through a squabble about why their 14-year-old can’t stay out until 2 a.m.?

When you spend a good decade or so having the kinds of disagreements that make you want to scream, it’s easy to develop a dismissive attitude toward your child’s opinions.

But as parents age and children become adults, the lines start to blur.

All of a sudden, the child starts to make sense – maybe even a little more sense than the parent is comfortable with. How should that transition be handled?

Most of these conversations revolve around how the parent in question can accept their child as a bona fide adult.

But what about from the other perspective? The adult child’s role in a disagreement is just as important – and just as tricky to navigate.

If you’re ready to start parsing parental conflicts in a more effective way, read ahead for some tips on how to make it happen.

Stay calm.

There’s a reason why “Keep calm and carry on” has become a viral phrase in the last few years. Staying calm is a vital tool – one that precious few people use correctly.

It won’t help your case to yell or get emotional, even if you’re in the right. Staying calm will help you to present clear, focused arguments and avoid getting sidetracked.

Try to be the bigger person. Even if your parents are calling you names, trying to avoid the conversation or refusing to acknowledge your point of view. It doesn’t help to get worked up. If anything, it will just feed into the idea that you’re not mature enough.

When disagreeing with your parents, you need to stay on the higher ground.

Avoid all or nothing statements.

Avoid all or nothing phrases like “you always” or “you never” when arguing. Accusing your mom or dad of doing something 100% of the time is a sure-fire way to put them on the defensive.

Instead, bring up specific examples and use words like “sometimes” or “occasionally.”

When you use “all or nothing” thinking, you cut yourself off from seeing their point of view. You turn your parents into caricatures of themselves instead of well-rounded people who make mistakes.

This approach is important in any argument, but especially during a time where both parties are trying to develop a more nuanced view of the other.

Take a step back if you find yourself doing this when disagreeing with your parents. An argument can quickly turn from a productive disagreement to a petty squabble when one side or the other goes down the rabbit hole of dramatic statements and accusatory language.

Stay focused.

Family matters come with decades of baggage that hasn’t been fully unpacked. It’s easy to get sidetracked during a heated argument and think about every perceived injustice you’ve ever suffered.

Stay focused on what you’re talking about. If you’re complaining about how they forgot to ask about your recent work promotion, don’t bring up the time in seventh grade when they missed your school play.

Part of the difficulty of disagreeing with your parents is convincing them to see you as a fellow adult instead of a kid. If you bring up something from your childhood, accomplishing that is going to be very difficult.

It’s frustrating to stay on track when you feel like you have more ammo in your bag, but piling on doesn’t validate an argument. It’s only makes the other person more defensive and less sympathetic to what you’re saying.

Pick your battles.

You can’t disagree on everything if you want a happy relationship with your parents. Even though it might hurt your jaw to grit those teeth, you’ll be happier in the long run if you let some things go.

For example, if your parents eat red meat every day and you’re a staunch vegetarian, don’t bring up the horrors of factory farming when you’re visiting for Christmas. No one wants to be insulted in their own house, and it’s probably not a stand worth taking.

If they criticize or make fun of your vegetarianism, then it’s time to speak up. In general, try to notice the difference between defending your sovereignty as an adult and looking for an excuse to pick a fight.

Create and enforce boundaries.

Remember when you were a teenager and how fiercely you protected your bedroom? No one could go in without your consent. Doing so was a violation of privacy.

That’s how your mind should be. No one can make you upset or force you into a discussion without you agreeing to it. For example, if you don’t want your parents to criticize your parenting skills, shut that topic down as soon as it comes up.

Setting those mental and emotional boundaries will make it easier to stop questions from turning into arguments.

If your mom disagrees with your decision not to breastfeed your child, simply say, “This is my decision, and I’m not going to discuss it with you further.”

If she tries to keep poking you, repeat that sentence. Eventually, she’ll get the message. Parents generally mean well, but they won’t know they’ve stepped over a line unless that line is clearly and consistently drawn.

This strategy is a larger representation of how to disagree with your parents in general. Make it a habit to be respectful of yourself and your parent’s opinions, and things will get easier.

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It’s hard to need to take care of your parents. But sometimes it’s necessary.

There comes a time in our lives when suddenly we must adult for our adults. Our roles switch. The caregivers need the caregiving.

Adulting for your parents isn’t easy. It’s an uncomfortable conversation to broach with Mom and Dad. However, the consequences of avoiding it are even more uncomfortable. While it might be difficult to talk about your parents’ future with them, it’s better to make sure they and their assets get the care they need.

Below are five topics to cover with Mom and Dad to make sure that conversation is as effective as it is difficult.

Health and assistance.

With the ongoing rise of healthcare costs and the unsure future of the Affordable Care Act, families must start planning for healthcare and healthcare expenses as soon as possible. Talk with your parents about their current health and the history of health and disease in your family.

What are they dealing with now? What might they deal with in the future? This information will help the family make educated decisions on how to manage their money and investments to provide the healthcare they need.

Precautionary measures that include a healthy diet, regular doctor checkups, and regular exercise may help minimize long-term costs and the risks of some diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Despite all the precautionary measures families can take, parents may need long-term care.

Mom and Dad may need someone to care for them on a regular basis. Children may want to provide that care, but it can be challenging and stressful. Children often aren’t equipped with the knowledge and physical stamina required to properly care for our older adults. Adulting for your parents can be very hard and require specialized training.

Long-term care is expensive, though. Consider long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance covers items not covered by standard health insurance. Health insurance provides coverage for illnesses and diseases. Long-term care insurance covers services that provide mom and dad with daily living assistance. This could include help with eating, bathing, help in the bathroom, and help getting in and out of bed.

Housing.

Mom and Dad may get to a point when living in their current home is challenging or even dangerous for them. Walking up long and steep flights of steps may hard. Reaching high cabinets and shelves may be impossible.

If this happens, it may be appropriate for them to move into their children’s house. You can be involved with adulting for your parents more easily in this situation.

This isn’t always the best solution for either party, though. The children and grandchildren may be too busy or unable to help care for mom and dad. Mom and dad may rather be around their own friends or, believe it or not, people their own age.

Retirement villages for those 55 and up are very popular. These are ideal neighborhoods to keep Mom and Dad active and around a community of people with whom they can spend time and relate.

Social interaction is especially crucial as we age. It helps fight problems such as dementia and depression. Staying active in local and broader communities helps maintain a sense of purpose. Encourage parents to join clubs and organizations and volunteer for causes about which they’re passionate.

As Mom and Dad need more attention, nursing facilities may become necessary. Families must plan for such expenses; the average nursing home costs about $80,000 annually for a semi-private room.

Have the conversation when mom and dad can still engage so you understand their wishes and concerns. Assess what the whole family can handle and manage mom and dad’s investments and assets accordingly.

Wills, trusts, and estate planning.

Life for children is stressful enough when parents are incapacitated or pass away. Some of that stress can be alleviated with proper planning.

If Mom and Dad haven’t already done so, they should get their will in order. This is an appropriate time to draft living wills and burial requests.

Include trust and estate planning to make sure what they leave behind is used in the manner they wish. These options give mom and dad peace of mind and takes weight off children’s shoulders. It also helps avoid family conflict that can happen when someone passes away.

Once all their legal documents are organized, a great tool is Docubank. DocuBank electronically stores all official and legal documents, including healthcare directives and emergency medical information, on a credit card-like card to keep these documents accessible from anywhere in the world at any time of day.

Managing investments.

It’s unfortunate, but true: getting older is expensive. Because savings rates are low due to low interest rates, it’s important that mom and dad be appropriately invested. Not only must they keep up with the rate of inflation and fight small Social Security increases, they must keep up with the increasing costs of aging.

The challenge is to not assume too much risk or wipe out savings and retirement investments for when they need it.

Most children aren’t equipped for such a conversation or responsibility. Therefore, it’s advisable to use a professional. Just any professional won’t do. Seek the help of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who is also Investment Advisory Registered (IAR).

An investment professional with a CFP designation has completed significant education and testing to use the CFP designation. An IAR designation means investment professional has taken additional testing and has a fiduciary responsibility to their clients.

Fiduciary responsibility means an investment professional must, and is held accountable to, make investment decisions based on their client’s best interests. This means under no circumstances is the investment professional allowed to sell mom and dad investments that are in the investment professional’s best interest and not mom and dad’s.

Adulting for adult children.

Lastly, it’s important for Mom and Dad to stop financially supporting adult children when it becomes prohibitive to Mom and Dad’s interests.

Everyone has that one cousin, some of us have that one sibling, who’s just never got their life in order. They hop from job to job and place to place. Their only constant is Mom and Dad and Mom and Dad’s money.

Mom and Dad have done enough. It’s time for them and you to focus on them. That means it’s time for some adult children, whether they’re ready or not, to start adulting. You’ll be adulting for your parents soon enough. Time to start adulting for yourself.

While these may be difficult topics to discuss with aging parents, they’re much easier conversations to have when mom and dad can be a part of them. The purpose is to give mom and dad the dignity they deserve. Doing so is a lot easier when you know what they want.

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How well do you resolve differences in your relationship? Talaat and Tai McNeely share their story of conflict and resolution and offer great relationship advice about communication.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Harlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit welcome Tai and Talaat McNeely. The guests open up about their struggle with communication about finances early in their relationship, and how they overcame obstacles as a couple. Their story is inspiring, and the guests are candid in their sharing of their mistakes as well as the lessons they’ve learned.

Communication is the most important piece of any relationship, and in this episode, our guests share the tools that have helped them — and others they’ve coached — survive and thrive within a relationship.

This episode is essential watching for anyone in a relationship, and the tools and tips are effective for resolving more than differences about just money.

Talaat and Tai McNeely, “America’s #1 Money Couple,” are financial educators that are on a mission to get individuals and couples on the same page financially, and to experience the joys of financial freedom. They are co-authors of Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple’s Guide To Communicating About Money. They are also the hosts of the top rated podcast, The His and Her Money Show. Talaat and Tai McNeely (His and Her Money) have been featured in numerous publications such as T.D. Jakes Show, FoxNews.com, MSN.com, Essence, and Business Insider.

Watch the video above or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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Can’t we all just get along? Unfortunately, with family, this isn’t always what happens. Here’s what you need to know about managing conflicts with family.

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The holiday season just ended. How did you survive?

Many families dread the holidays because of family disagreements. These past holidays might have been especially trying, thanks to the election.

And, even though you’ve navigated the holidays, there’s a good chance you still need to see family members at a major gathering. Sunday dinner? Grandma’s 80th birthday party? A family reunion in the summer?

At some point you’re going to have more conflicts with family. This episode will help you get through it.

Concepts

  • How emotion and identity impact the way we talk about difficult subjects.
  • The difficulty of seeing family when you spend more time with friends who might agree with you more.
  • Concerns about how “being right” and a “team” mentality can make it hard to talk about thorny issues.
  • Tips for setting the stage for civil and polite conversation rather than conflicts with family.
  • Ideas for defusing a difficult “conflicts with family” situation when it arises.
  • The importance of avoiding big discussions on social media.
  • The reality of our interconnected world and how it contributes to conflicts with family.

Listen to our “do nows” for ideas on what you can do to take action to avoid or help defuse conflicts with family. We also answer a listener question about religious tensions in family settings.

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Resources

Don’t let politics spoil your family holiday
Families dread holidays after election
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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