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Keep things as pleasant as possible

Columnist Dave Ramsey says you won't change lifelong beliefs in one conversation.

Dave Says — Dave Ramsey column sig

Dear Dave -- I don’t really see eye-to-eye with my dad and older brother on many things. This is not a new realization on my part, but over the last few years it has led to hard feelings and various arguments at family gatherings about religion, finances and other things. With Christmas coming up, I would like to avoid conflict and try to handle things a little better with them. Do you have any advice? -- Cam

It takes a strong, level-headed person with a good heart to want to approach a situation like this with maturity and love. I’m proud of you for trying to create better relationships within your family.

My initial advice would be don’t take discussions too deep, and make a conscious effort to stay away from any hot button topics you know already exist.

I’m no family counselor, but the chances of you changing a lifetime of differences and toxic behaviors, or bringing them around to your way of thinking, in one brief interaction are probably pretty small.

Don’t tell them you think what they’re doing is wrong or that you feel they’re bad people if things get a little tense.

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My best advice is to be a model of sanity and reason if you feel a confrontation brewing. Situations like this are hard to deal with, especially when the conflict is between a father and son or two brothers. It’s hard on you and them, plus it has a negative impact on the rest of the family during what is supposed to be a joyful and loving time of year.

These are people you love and care about, even if they are hard to get along with or understand sometimes. Pray for them, Cam. And ask God to give you guidance, patience and understanding in this situation, too.

Dave Ramsey is a personal money-management expert, a bestselling author and host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which is heard locally on KROC-AM. For more financial advice, visit daveramsey.com .

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