Navigating Controversial Conversations in the Family & Beyond

  • March 10, 2024 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Eastern Standard Time

Ticket Price $40.00-$75.00 This event is now over

The goal of this workshop is to help build skills to manage controversial conversations in the family and beyond. Whether it be the conflict in Gaza or Ukraine, the climate crisis, border issues, or our upcoming political election, as people in our country take sides over controversial national and international issues, it can feel like the divide between us only deepens.

Family relationships are becoming casualties of our toxic polarized environment. Family members are having nasty political arguments, avoiding each other, or even cutting off lifetime relationships. If you want to preserve important family bonds while still being true to your values and political beliefs, this workshop is for you!  

Braver Angels offers us the skills to have a different kind of conversation.

Although the focus is on family relationships, you can use strategies in this workshop with any loved one. You’ll laugh and have some fun in this workshop—it won’t be all serious. After all, we all come from quirky families



The Braver Angels Way

We state our views freely and fully, without fear.

We treat people who disagree with us with honesty, dignity and respect.

We welcome opportunities to engage those with whom we disagree.

We believe all of us have blind spots and none of us are not worth talking to.

We seek to disagree accurately, avoiding exaggeration and stereotypes.

We look for common ground where it exists and, if possible, find ways to work together.

We believe that, in disagreements, both sides share and learn.

In Braver Angels, neither side is teaching the other or giving feedback on how to think or say things differently.


Goals of the Workshop 

  • Insight to why family differences over politics are uniquely challenging.
  • Recognition of the common roles that family members play in political conversations (for example, the Gladiator, the Defender, and the Sniper).
  • Understand strategies for dealing with political differences in a constructive way
  • Gain strategies and skills for communicating with others who hold different viewpoints


 Reena Bernards, works as a licensed couple and family therapist, specializing in relationship connections, inter-cultural families, and healing from trauma.  She is certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy, as well as an AAMFT approved supervisor. She has lectured on “Responding Empathically to Survivors of Trauma” for the National Institutes of Health Office of Intramural Training and Education. Reena also works as a facilitator of inter-group dialogue and a trainer in diversity. She created the Common Ground Workshop for Braver Angels, which brings liberals and conservatives together for constructive dialogue. Reena brings the lens of attachment as a key human motivator to her therapy practice, as well as to her inter-group work. 

 Tom Smerling had a long career in foreign and domestic policy and is now retired.  He was the founder of Project Nishma, a national organization that organized American Jewish leaders to advocate for more proactive U.S. peace diplomacy.    He led several delegations of Jewish leaders to Jordan, Syria, Egypt, the West Bank and Gaza.  After merging Nishma with Israel Policy Forum, he organized dialogues between Jewish leaders, Syrian-Americans, and Iranian academics.  Tom subsequently worked in strategic planning for the Ocean Service of NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Agency).   Most recently, Tom has held a variety of national volunteer positions with Braver Angels, which brings together liberals and conservatives for mutual understanding.   He currently serves as Braver Angel's Maryland State Coordinator.


Date & Time

Sun, Mar 10, 2024 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

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