How to cope when political tensions impact family relationships

Sophia Iannelli, senior public relations major. Courtesy of Allison Ewing Photography.

Zach Zdanowicz Reporter

“I know mom voted for Trump.” Sophia Iannelli, senior public relations major, woke up to this text from her sister and it was the last thing she wanted to see the morning after the presidential election.

“I had always assumed they were more conservative and I was proven correct,” Iannelli said. “It puts a strain on the relationship because every time you disagree with someone who is close to you, it can cause arguments or make things uncomfortable.”

Leading up to the 2016 election, a survey conducted by ABC and featured on The Atlantic stated that “37 percent of Americans had experienced increased tension with relatives or friends because of the campaign.”

Disagreeing with parents’ beliefs can cause strain on the relationship as it can alter the way children view their parents, questioning their moral values and vice versa.

“When a person’s ideas and beliefs conflict with their families, it can be unsettling because it can cause a person to question their own belief system and view the people they respected in a different light,” said Brandi Lewis, a licensed therapist, in an article from Rewire.

Iannelli and her sister often have political conversations with their parents, hoping to allow them to see the issues they do not agree on from a different point of view.

“There’s been tears, raised voices and walking out of the rooms type stuff because it gets frustrating when you feel like somebody can’t see where you’re coming from,” Iannelli said. “I love my parents. I would argue that they are the best parents in the world. I love them wholeheartedly. I respect how they listen the majority of the time. As much as they don’t understand, they do try, and I can tell that they put in the effort to try and understand.”

Finding ways to learn from parents’ differing political beliefs can help bring balance into the relationship.

“I have to take the time to appreciate they have grown up in a completely different environment than me and my sister have,” Kristen Kubek, a junior fashion merchandising major, said. “They are on their own paths and their own journey. I feel like for the people in the older generation who grew up with conservative families, they are doing awesome. They have come really far and really settled into their own beliefs that they are still developing.”

This does not mean there are not hard or disheartening moments, Kubek said, but it is important to know and recognize where your parents are coming from.

“I learn how to approach it [political conversations] more carefully and maybe to be a little more accepting of people who do have different views than me,” Kubek said.

Iannelli suggested having honest conversations with your parents, telling them how you feel and having the conversation in a calm and non-confrontational manner. 

“You can’t go back in time. You can’t go back and change something somebody did, no matter how bad it hurt you. You can educate. You can inform. You can have beneficial conversations,” Iannelli said. “I am not one to say forget about it. I won’t forget the decisions that my parents made this year. But I can’t go back and change their mind in the moment.”

Zach Zdanowicz is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.