Differing opinions challenge families | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Differing opinions challenge families

Amanda Fehd

The debate over who should be the next president has extended from the TV, to the office, to the dining room table, all the way to the bedroom.

Husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, and brothers and sisters have been divided by differing political views.

Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he received the cold shoulder for a couple of weeks from Democratic wife Maria Shriver after giving his Republican National Convention speech supporting President Bush.

While some are sleeping on the couch over political differences, other families handle it a little more lightly.

Maggie Fowle, 29, a Meyers resident and elementary school teacher, said she has “drastically different political views” than her father in Michigan.

“It’s kind of fun because I greatly respect my dad’s opinion,” Fowle said. “We enjoy harassing each other. I view him to be very intelligent and it helps me understand somebody whose views I differ from.”

Fowle said her father raised her to think for herself and make educated decisions. But now that she’s made up her mind, she just wishes he had come to the same conclusion.

“I’m not upset at him, I respect his decision but I just wish his vote was the same as mine,” she said lightheartedly.

Many don’t talk about their differences with family members because they want to avoid tension, said Elaine Hoem, a Nevada licensed marriage and family therapist. She said it all boils down to a family’s communication skills.

“It comes down to: Can a family talk? Can they sit down at the table talk to each other about divergent views and values so that divergent views will be respected by other family members, without anger or insult? Not all families can do that.”

Hoem said angst over politics hasn’t brought anyone to her office, but her therapist’s logic does offer a solution to the tension.

“To be able to listen well and to ask questions before defenses go up, that’s the key. That’s what’s so hard in this election – the country is very polarized with intensity and strong feelings on both sides.”

Some say the election has not polarized people that much. Eric Olsen, the president-elect of the American Association of Retired Persons, said he’s in complete agreement with his wife about who should be president.

“The country is less divided now than in the past,” said Olsen as he started a game of cards at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center. “Historically speaking, it could be worse.”

Take Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary who died in a duel with then Vice President Aaron Burr, he said. That’s how political disputes used to be solved.

To Olsen, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: “We’re all going to be happy when it’s over.”

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