The day we had a play date at the zoo, I looked at my husband and said, “This will be the last time I ever see them.” The “them” I am referring to used to be one of our closest friends and her two kids. She and her husband were friends with my husband in college. Her husband was the best man in our wedding. He was the first person my husband called when my husband knew he was in love with me and was going to marry me. His wife helped with our wedding plans. She also threw my baby shower before I had my daughter. After meeting them and becoming close friends with them, I had visions of many play dates, family vacations and of our children growing up together.
So why did I know that particular day would be the last day I would ever see them? It all boiled down to one thing: politics. Months before, my husband had a text conversation with his friend about local politics that did not end well. His friend was offended by a comment my husband made. They also did not see eye to eye on the presidential candidates. My husband said that he appreciated their differences in opinion and asked if they could get together for lunch sometime to talk. He never heard back from his friend.
I reached out to my friend because I did not want my husband and her husband’s differences of opinion to ruin our friendship. However, the zoo play date was a last ditch effort to repair what I feared was already broken. After that day, my texts and phones calls went unanswered as well.
It really bothered me when it first happened, but now it has been well over a year. Do I miss their friendship? Of course I do, but do really close friends break off relationships because of politics? I would certainly hope not, but it happened to us.
Many of my friends come from different backgrounds and different religions than me. Who they voted for in the last election may or may not have been the same candidate that I did. How they raise their children is sometimes vastly different from how I raise my daughter. However, I do not want my friends to all be the same as me. And I know that when major differences do arise, we can discuss them while still respecting one another.
After losing our friends over politics, I have been thinking about how I want my family to learn from this moving forward. I want my daughter to have friends who think differently than her. When she is older and when differences come to light, I do not want her to end relationships because of them. I want her to explore these differences. I want her to respectfully ask questions of her friends. I want her to respectfully challenge her friends. Most of all, I want her to respect the opinions of others and know that even though she may disagree with certain people, she can still cultivate lasting relationships with them.
I also want my daughter to know that sometimes other people will not be open to her opinion. Some people will not be open to exploring these differences. If that is the case, I hope that she can walk away from these people and still cherish relationships with people who will see the value in her friendship with them…no matter how different their opinions or beliefs are.