I’m a liberal, white mama. I believe that Black Lives matter and in community over cops. I support abortion. I am a proud member of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. I agree with raising the minimum wage to a living wage, an equitable wage. I trust science and am vaccinated and boosted. My son will be as well when he is eligible because vaccines are safe and effective.
I am the complete opposite of the majority of my family. Where I am liberal and proudly fighting for what, in my mind, is human rights, they are conservative. Navigating this over the years has been a minefield, baited breaths waiting for the eruption of emotion. Add in misinformation and the social media component? Sometimes, it is like a losing battle, and it isn’t getting easier to have civil conversations. How do I respond when told that I don’t understand what I’m talking about or advocating for? How do I act when I am belittled for going against what everyone else in my family believes?
At what point do I move from giving grace to setting boundaries and holding those firm? Is it when I am told the life of a group of cells matters more than my friends of color? Is it when I shout from the rooftops that public education matters and my uterus is not up for debate? Do I draw the line when I’m told I am just a “sheep”, that opposing an entire framework of thought is stupidity. Maybe I don’t even enter the room and remove myself from the conversations because it isn’t worth my mental health to argue with family that gets their information from unreliable sources and social media. I am a liberal in a sea of conservatives. There have been countless times I’ve just kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken out. I should have stood firm.
This past year, I’ve chosen to exclude myself from conversations. I don’t offer my opinion unless I know that the people I’m interacting with can have civil conversations with those who don’t hold the same viewpoints or my opinion will be productive. I model what it looks like to be strong in a conviction without causing harm. It is challenging. I never want my child to see me be anything but passionate about the issues I care about, but I always want to be gentle and kind to those I interact with. I want to raise him to be able to form his own opinions while knowing how to research the topics that are current or that interest him. I want my son to have civil conversations while maintaining a passion for his opinions. I want him to feel welcomed in the minefield of controversy without feeling like he is disappointing me or my husband-whether he chooses to be liberal, conservative, or someplace in between.
Again, I am a liberal in a sea of conservatives. There have been countless times I’ve just kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken out. And now I am working on those boundaries. Not just for me but for the little eyes watching me.