Communication (Peterson, n.d.) is the key characteristic to a successful family function. Research proves that communication is an essential building block to solid marital, parent-child, and sibling relationships. However, it will be only effective if it is openly and regularly exercised. Studies show that poor family communication is associated with dysfunctional family dynamics, leading to marital separation and behavioral problems in children.
Peterson (n.d.) defines communication both as instrumental and affective. Instrumental communication is the exchange of information allowing individuals to fulfill common family responsibilities, like assignment of daily chores at home. Affective communication, on the other hand, is the expression and ‘regulation’ (Gottman, 1997) of one’s emotions, like happiness, sadness, and anger. Dr. Gottman (1997) believes that to regulate emotions is to be able to empathize. Many families function well with instrumental more than affective communication, however, harmonious families comfortably communicate with both.
As the child grows older (“Effective Communication and Teenagers,” n.d.), independence also increases. Consequently, communication has to be nurtured by 'accommodating to their latest needs, fears, interested, and competencies' (Gottman, 1997). In the process of discovering new and different approaches to emotional communication, it will eventually lead to a happier, positive and more connected family relationship.
Since each family dynamic (Peterson, n.d.) has their own unique communication needs and styles, a family has to uncover their best way to maintain honesty and openness with each other, which sets the stage for trusting relationships. Without trust, families cannot build strong, healthy relationships. As trust and honesty strengthens, dealing with difficult conversations and conflicts can be resolved much easier. Healthy communication styles require practice and hard work, therefore, it will constantly evolve.
When adults seek help for their child’s challenges, it does not mean they are incompetent parents. The child may just require extra support in the areas of building self-esteem, being resilient, making good decisions, sustaining harmonious relationships or regulating emotions that are beyond one's parenting ability.
At Fundamentals we collaborate with parents to advance every step of their child's emotional state. Book a free consultation with us today.
Effective Communication and Teenagers. (n.d.). Retrieved December, 2017 from https://parents.au.reachout.com/skills-to-build/connecting-and-communicating/effective-communication-and-teenagers
Gottman, J. Ph.D. (1997). Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.
Peterson, R. (n.d.) Families First Keys to Successful Family Functioning: Communication. Virginia Cooperative Extension: Publications and Educational Resources. Retrieved April, 2020 from https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-092/350-092.html
Relationships and Communication. (n.d.). Better Health Channel. Retrieved January, 2020 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/relationships-and-communication