Politics are tearing siblings apart

Dear Annie: I am a 71-year-old man. My relationship with my 66-year-old sister is damaged, seemingly beyond repair. We have not spoken in at least two years. After having been close siblings over many years, our only current communication is through birthday cards.

The reason has to do with politics. She and I have polar opposite ideas about the current administration. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Everyone has his/her own political views. What I do have a problem with are her incessant tirades on social media, specifically Facebook, which is akin to putting her views on a Times Square billboard.

Though I have strong political opinions, I post nothing about them on social media, because I want to maintain cordial relationships with all my family members, friends and neighbors, whose politics are diverse. On the other hand, my sister does not seem to care that her preaching-to-the-choir posts, though they may make her feel good, alienate many members of her own family, as well as half of all other Americans.

I would like to approach her about this situation in a way that could mend our tattered relationship but don’t know how. Any light you could shed would be valued and appreciated. — A Sad and Hurt Brother in Florida

Dear Sad and Hurt Brother: I can empathize with how frustrating and hurtful your sister’s rants on social media are to you. Ultimately, you can’t control what she posts, but you can control your exposure to it. You can do this by unfollowing her, which is different from unfriending. Click the three dots in the upper right corner of her post, and select “Unfollow (her name).” Once her online persona is out of sight, out of mind, it will be easier to remember the real person, the little sister whom you grew up with and love. Then it’s time to put aside your differences and pick up the phone. Tell her you miss her. Don’t even bring up politics. If she tries to, steer the conversation away from it; although it might not feel like it at the moment, there are so many other things to talk about.

I think she’ll be glad to hear from you. You’ve been sending each other birthday cards, which shows you care about keeping up a connection. That’s all the common ground you need to begin rebuilding your relationship.