My dad and I have voted opposite my entire life. I've worked on environmental issues most of my career, and I lean socially liberal. Dad is a conservative Republican. We’ve gotten into many arguments over the years that ended in sour feelings. Like many families, we learned to steer clear of political conversations to maintain the peace.
We did the Listening Challenge and it was one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. Dad told me many stories from his childhood and early adulthood that I never knew. I can see how his experiences shaped his beliefs. I was surprised to find that we care about many of the same things, and our ideas for policy change aren’t actually that far apart. The conversation guidelines meant that we had to listen respectfully to each other's points of view, even if it was hard. We both tried our best to do that, and I think we both felt heard in a way that we'd rarely experienced when discussing politics.
We came away agreeing that if more people could talk the way we did, things could look a lot different in this country. In the weeks since, we've been able to take on more conversations about politics, issues, and candidates, and really listen to each other and ask questions. I'm learning as much about my own beliefs as I am about my dad's. It's amazing how much positive impact this one exercise had on our relationship, and on my views of people who vote differently than I do.
Kate's Dad's reflections:
It was a pleasant experience.
We both learned many things about each others views and past experiences that helped shape those views. It is amazing that I could raise a child into adulthood without previously having these understandings.
Even though I am a conservative Republican and my daughter is the opposite, it was refreshing to learn that many of our views coalesced.