Families First-Keys to Successful Family Functioning: Communication

“Communication is important in relationships as it allows us to share interests, aspirations and concerns, to support each other, to organize our lives and make decisions, and to work together in caring for children. Good communication is about the way we talk and listen, and about our body language. We can all learn how to improve the way we communicate.┬áIt is through the communication the members of the family express their requirements, love, desires, advises etc., to each other person in the family. Family communication is very much different from that with formal communication.”

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Effective communication is an important characteristic of strong, healthy families. Research identifies communication as an essential building block of strong marital, parent-child, and sibling relationships.

Family Communication

Family communication refers to the way verbal and non-verbal information is exchanged between family members (Epstein, Bishop, Ryan, Miller, & Keitner, (1993). Communication involves the ability to pay attention to what others are thinking and feeling. In other words, an important part of communication is not just talking, but listening to what others have to say.

Communication within the family is extremely important because it enables members to express their needs, wants, and concerns to each other. Open and honest communication creates an atmosphere that allows family members to express their differences as well as love and admiration for one another. It is through communication that family members are able to resolve the unavoidable problems that arise in all families.

Just as effective communication is almost always found in strong, healthy families, poor communication is usually found in unhealthy family relationships. Marriage and family therapists often report that poor communication is a common complaint of families who are having difficulties. Poor communication is unclear and indirect. It can lead to numerous family problems, including excessive family conflict, ineffective problem solving, lack of intimacy, and weak emotional bonding.

Researchers have discovered a strong link between communication patterns and satisfaction with family relationships (Noller & Fitzpatrick, 1990). In fact, one researcher discovered that the more positively couples rated their communication, the more satisfied they were with their relationship five and a half years later (Markman, 1981).

Poor communication is also associated with an increased risk of divorce and marital separation and more behavioral problems in children.

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