Conversations about abortion can bring out different emotions. There’s generally a lot of passion on both sides of the abortion debate, and this can create a barrier to productive dialogue. Discussions with your family members about controversial topics can be complicated to navigate. It can be difficult to engage around pro-life issues well due to various influencing family dynamics and differing views of family members. This is why the holiday dinner table may not be the most ideal place to change someone’s mind about abortion. But if you find yourself being pulled into a debate, how can you make the best of the situation?
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Try to Avoid a Public Debate
It’s normal to want to persuade someone to see your point of view, especially when the topic is one you care deeply about. But there are several reasons why the holiday dinner is not the best place for a productive dialogue. Here are a few tips to follow if you do find yourself discussing abortion during the holidays.
One-on-one Debates Are Typically More Persuasive:
Many people are plugged into social media these days. It’s made our society more image-conscious and prone to wanting to control how others perceive us. People usually do not want their opinions challenged or questioned in front of other people, and they’re unlikely to be open to hearing other views when others are watching. When you talk to someone one-on-one, you have more of an opportunity to relate to them. You can respond to their points without either of you having to worry about the opinions of your audience. When each person is less concerned about their opinion being validated in front of others, the conversation can focus more on the topic at hand.
Be Aware Of Those Around You:
How do your other family members feel about listening to a discussion about an emotional topic like abortion? This is another reason why it may be best to talk about your pro-life beliefs before or after dinner. And in a more private setting. For one thing, some of your relatives may not be comfortable listening to a debate. Especially when the holidays are meant to be about the family coming together. Even if the exchange is civil, hearing the back-and-forth can make some people feel tense. Things can also become complicated if members of your family start to take sides on the issue. It’s best to be aware of where you are and read the temperature of the room before engaging in a dialogue and being perceived as disrupting a family occasion.
Find Common Ground:
You don’t have to agree with your pro-choice family members’ stance on abortion. But if you have the chance to dialogue with one of your pro-choice relatives, try to avoid coming across as combative. Rather, affirm the other person’s feelings and acknowledge where you may agree. Someone who holds pro-choice views may be sensitive to women facing unplanned pregnancies or has a personal connection to the abortion issue. One area where you can likely find agreement is that pregnant women in challenging situations need resources. You can then share with them the ways you support women who need help because of an unexpected pregnancy. It’s possible this will make them more likely to listen to you if they can see you’re pro-life because of how much you care.
Responding With Grace:
Abortion is a heavy topic, one that your pro-choice relatives likely feel as passionate about as you do. This means they may behave differently than they normally would to defend their views. Through it all, even though you disagree, remember to express patience and understanding, responding with kindness, not bitterness. As James 1:19 tells us: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” or from Titus 3:2: “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Sometimes the best way to engage on an emotional topic like abortion is to lead gently.
As pro-life advocates, we must be kind in our outreach efforts. Conversations about abortion can be difficult, but we must show others we’re full of love for women and the unborn. Volunteer, pray, or donate to share the joy of life and extend compassionate grace. Reach out to us today!