May 6, 2022 2 min read

Agreeing to Disagree Again

A red and black bird appearing to yell at a green bird who appears shocked. They are both on a green branch.
We call this one "Angry Birds". (Illustration by Valerie Osier)

Getting back to healthy discussions and even arguments.

On this episode of Range of Care, we’re talking about productive disagreements: why we need them, what they look like and how to have them.

It’s not whether or not we agree or disagree that is the issue, but how we do it and how we teach the next generations how they can disagree productively and empathetically.

Meg and Ingrid talk about some of our first experiences with disagreements from a developmental perspective: toddlers who disagree with their parents on eating their peas or going to bed, kids who disagree with their classmates that pink is the best when they really like yellow, and teenagers who disagree with their parents that 9 p.m. is a reasonable curfew.

What we learn at a developmental level at those ages– what our parents teach us on how much our voice matters and how to have empathy– shapes how we approach disagreements on much bigger issues when we’re older. It shapes if we feel safe disagreeing with others or if we feel safe going against the grain.

Disagreement is a fundamental part of our government and democracy. And our ability to disagree directly correlates with our ability to advocate.

To be clear: we’re not ever saying that people’s humanity is up for disagreement. Nor are we saying that people of marginalized communities and identities need to be doing this work or subject themselves to being the object of someone’s anger. It’s those in the dominant culture– white, cisgender folks– who’s responsibility it is to be leading this bigger change.

Meg and Ingrid talk about a few ways to do this on a micro level. Here are a few, but be sure to listen to the episode to get the full picture:

  • Teach your children how to disagree safely and hold space for disagreements.
  • Start monitoring your own physical and emotional reactions to things you disagree with.
  • Start small, with people you already feel safe with.
  • Take a pause if you start to recognize disregulation in your body.

References:

The Dying Art of Disagreement” by neoconservative Bret Stevens

"Braving the Wilderness" by definitely not neoconservative Brene Brown

RANGE of Care is a series of conversations on the intersections between mental health, the biology of human emotion, our bodies response and the social, cultural and political happenings in our communities. It’s hosted by Meg Curtain Rey-Bear, a Spokane psychotherapist, and Ingrid Price, a Spokane child psychotherapist. Luke usually chimes in too because he can’t help himself.


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