Family Communication - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication
Effective communication within the family can lead to better relationships between the members of the family. It must be built on a foundation of trust, listening. Conversation is the key to any strong relationship, but family communication is especially important. Try these six, simple tips to get everyone. Developing good communication skills is critical for successful relationships, whether . It is important that families establish good lines of communication so that.
In addition, the topic of death may be rigidly ignored in a family, with the topic being kept out of any dialogue; but when a grandparent becomes terminally ill, the family may adapt, change boundary rules, and increase the permeability of the boundary around the topic, thus allowing a more open flow of information around the topic within and outside the family system.
Once private information is shared with another, it is coowned. Those who share the information communicatively coordinate the rules of coownership. This is referred to as boundary rule coordination.
Sometimes privacy boundaries are not coordinated effectively and this may result in boundary turbulence, and possibly a privacy dilemma. CPM is a very useful theory in the field of family communication because family members are often faced with making decisions about revealing and concealing information both within and outside the family system.
One particular way of sharing family information within and outside the family system is through telling family stories. Telling Stories Families tell stories. They tell stories about critical events in family life and mundane occurrences that have meaning. The stories themselves, the meanings that they hold for families, how and when they are told, and who is doing the telling are all important when examining family communication because stories are used as a means of ordering and making sense out of family experiences.
Narrative theory explains how humans are natural storytellers. They tell stories—narratives—to make sense of their world and form identities, so stories both affect and reflect our families. Narrative as talk organized around significant or consequential experiences, with characters undertaking some action, within a context, with implicit or explicit beginning and end points, and significance for the narrator or her or his audience.
This definition highlights the active role of characters, intentionality, and the contextual nature of narrative. Narratives can be fictional, but most family stories are nonfiction and are communicated in first or third person.Relationship Advice - Is Communication the most important element of a Healthy Relationship?
Narrative coherence refers to how consistent the story is internally—how the parts fit together in a way that makes sense. Narrative fidelity refers to how truthful or reliable the story is to the listener i. Finally, there are two different types of stories: Family stories are often woven into the fabric of everyday living, but often families may ritualize the telling and retelling of family stories during certain events or occasions. Communicative narrative sense-making is an area of narrative research that addresses storytelling in families and how that storytelling is linked to the physical and mental well-being of the family members and to families as a whole.
The work of Jody Koenig-Kellas has revealed that the kinds of stories that families tell, the ways that they are told, and the interpersonal interactions surrounding the storytelling all happen in patterned ways and have implications for the health of the family and coping abilities of family members.
Narrative coping, in particular, has been studied in a variety of contexts, including adoption, miscarriage, divorce, cancer, bereavement, and other family stressors. Through communicative narrative sense-making, families can organize, make sense of, come to terms with, and potentially resolve challenges faced over the life course.
Creating Family Rituals Rituals are repeated sequences of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a prescribed way. Since families tend to create routines and patterns to maintain a level of constancy in the system, family rituals are often enacted in ways that remind members who they are and how much they care about each other.
These rituals are generally voluntary and connect members in meaningful ways. Communicating Rules and Roles Family systems are governed by rules.
The rules may differ across families, but all family systems negotiate rules that allow some degree of control over family interaction, while managing change across the life course of family development. A rule can be conceptualized as a prescription that governs and regulates preferred, prohibited, and obligatory behaviors in particular contexts.
Communication constitutes family rules, and family rules are instrumental in structuring family communication. Family members have a choice whether to follow a rule, but since rules offer prescriptions for behavior, there are often sanctions when rules are not followed. Guilt induction is a common sanction used by parents when family rules are not followed. Rules that are appropriate to govern families with small children may not be useful once children are grown, or they must be revised when new members of the family are introduced.
Rules evolve over time, across the life course of family development. A young married couple whose normal way of conversing includes profanities may revise their rules around the use of profanities once children are born and are learning to talk. Moreover, families of origin introduce us to rules that we often carry over into our current families. A rule to never go to bed angry may be a functional rule that a spouse brings into his or her current family after learning it in his or her family of origin, but a rule that women must be in charge of the children and household chores, while men are in charge of the finances and working outside the home, may be discontinued as cultural rules on these responsibilities change.
Family rules tend to work best when they serve the needs of individual family members as well as the family system, but the system needs to be adaptable enough to make changes as the members themselves change over time. A curfew of 11 p. When the college student comes home on breaks, the curfew may need to be renegotiated.
To ensure that rules are serving individual members as well as the family system, family members need to negotiate rules as needed. Rules guiding member behavior are also linked to family roles. Studies of family communication investigate how a family system is rule-governed, but also how individual members enact their roles in that system.
Roles are a critical component of family life and family functioning. They are socially constructed patterns of expected behavior that provide members with a position in the family. Influenced by mass media and other outside forces, this role behavior and expectations for individual family members are primarily developed in interaction within the family, including family rules.
We learn our family roles in verbal and nonverbal communication with others. Role expectations are guided by family rules and communicated in daily interaction reifying what is expected of a good mom, dad, son, or daughter. But certain roles, such as the family scapegoat or black sheep, may not serve the individual, but they serve the family unit by creating alliances.
Gender roles in families are central to the study of family communication because sociocultural change in relation to gender also has profound effects on family systems. Family messages about what is considered feminine and masculine begins once the sex of a child is determined in utero or at birth. Which of the following groupings is considered feminine—pink rooms, dolls, and dresses, or blue rooms, trucks, and pants?
Family communication can provide an understanding of how some people classify certain behaviors and objects as gendered.
Parents communicate gender to their children all the time, from the toys they purchase and their division of household chores to messages about proper courtship behavior. In the United States, household chores are typically assigned differently to girls and boys, with girls assigned more household tasks such as dishes and vacuuming, while boys are assigned lawn mowing and taking out the garbage.
As society changes to reflect a more multidimensional view of gender, the communication of gender roles in the family will likely be fluid and subject to change. Family rules and roles are key to understanding family processes, but the two central constructs underlying much of the study of family communication and family function are the communication of intimacy and the communication of control.
Communicating Intimacy At the core of family functioning is family cohesion or closeness. As stated earlier, a central function of family communication is to manage separateness and connectedness in the family system.
Communication serves to facilitate the emotional connection or cohesion of families and balance emotional distance among members. Families routinely interact in ways that intensify or decrease feelings of closeness and intimacy with one another and the family as a system. In the case of Heather and Ron, intimacy among members, as well as connection as a family, are being challenged and renegotiated. Even without catastrophic events, managing the tensions between closeness and independence is fundamental to family life.
Commitment is a key construct implying a focused energy directed toward maintaining the relationship. Yet, while this commitment might be interpreted in the United States as equivalent to love, these are actually different constructs. While love is the emotional bond formed among family members, commitment suggests a cognitive decision to devote energy to the relationship.
Not all families have love, or even commitment, and these exist on continua that may be in opposition. Some families are estranged. There is also evidence that certain relationships, such as mother-daughter, can be particularly complicated when considering intimacy. Communication patterns that encourage intimacy, such as nonverbal affection, expressions of affection, and social support may promote closeness and connection, while communication patterns that discourage intimacy e.
When promoting closeness and intimacy in family relationships, there are grand gestures and declarations of commitment e. A private language may develop in family cultures, including but not limited to nicknames, inside jokes, phrases that only family members understand, and private meanings of ordinary words. Family members may offer varying degrees of support to one another emotionally and tangibly by providing resources, and they also disclose private information to some degree.
Self-disclosure is a communication behavior referring to voluntarily telling another person private information that the other person could not obtain in any other way. Sharing information and making the unknown known to others in families is seen a key strategy for nurturing healthy intimate relationships. However, disclosure is not without its risks. Family members also strategically manage private information and decisions about whether to share certain information in order to protect relationships.
Spouses tend to disclose more to one another than children do to parents, and siblings are more likely to share disclosures with each other than with their parents. In sum, families employ a variety of strategies to construct a sense of closeness and intimacy among their members and these strategies are complex and multifaceted. Negotiating closeness is a primary task of the family. Communicating Power and Control In addition to negotiating closeness, another primary task of the family is negotiating power and control.
Power relates to the possession of control or command in the family system, and it manifests differently across families and is shaped by the roles, rules, culture, and communication goals of each family. In individualistic cultures such as the United States, individual goals may be promoted; in collectivistic cultures such as Japan, group or whole-family goals may take precedence over individual-member goals.
The way that we look at how families interact is contextualized within larger cultural forces, and this is especially important when examining power and control issues.
The Importance of Communication in Building a Positive Family Culture
Power may be distributed in a family according to cultural practices or through ongoing negotiations across time.
Often, distributions of power in families are affected by both culture and these ongoing negotiations. The study of family communication is interested in the verbal and nonverbal messages employed in negotiating power, as well as wielding power, in the family. Topics such as status, conflict, parenting, decision making, and relational control issues such as corporal punishment and domestic violence are all linked to how families communicate power and control.
Communication within families is a complex and fascinating phenomenon. Family communication is not restricted to single messages or to verbal communication among family members. It is a dynamic process of managing power, intimacy, and boundaries, navigating system cohesion and adaptability, and creating images, themes, stories, rituals, rules, roles; it is also an interactive process of making meanings and creating mental models of family life that endure over time and across generations.
Cognitive Orientations and Communication In addition to the constitutive view of families and viewing families as a self-regulating system, one of the largest bodies of research in family communication focuses on family communication patterns.
Relationships and communication - Better Health Channel
Family communication patterns FCP theory explains why family members communicate in the way they do based on their cognitive orientations to one another. Rooted in media studies, early FCP research was interested in how family members process mass media messages.
This work focused on the coorientation of family members in interpreting objects in their social environment. This research discovered that one way of coorienting is to conform to the interpretations of other family members.
This approach was initially labeled socioorientation, but was later labeled conformity orientation when the FCP measurement instrument was revised.
Individuals within a family with a conformity orientation tend to rely on more powerful others in the family system to interpret the world around them.
The second way of coorientating is to discuss the object in the social environment and develop a collective interpretation. This approach was initially labeled concept orientation, but was later labeled conversation orientation. Individuals within a family with a conversation orientation tend to rely on an open flow of information in conversation to mutually construct a shared interpretation of objects in the social environment. These cognitive orientations have direct impacts on the ways in which families communicate in general, so research on FCP quickly expanded beyond media studies.
A large number of studies have tested FCP. This research reveals that families have varying degrees of both conformity and conversational orientations. Broadly, conformity orientation refers to the degree to which families create a climate that stresses similarity of attitudes, values, and beliefs.
Families on the high end of this dimension are characterized by uniformity of beliefs and privileging harmony and obedience in family interactions. Families on the low end of the conformity dimension are characterized by a respect for divergent attitudes and beliefs and for individuality among family members.
Conversation orientation has been developed to refer to the degree to which families create a climate of open discussion about a wide variety of topics. In families on the high end of this dimension, family members frequently interact with each other, without many limitations or sanctions.
In families on the low end of this dimension, family members interact less frequently with each other, with few topics openly discussed. A typology of family communication patterns have emerged from this body of research, classifying families into four possible family types.
Families that are high on both conversation and conformity orientation are labeled consensual. Their communication is characterized by discussion of ideas, but with pressure toward agreement and not disturbing the legitimate power structure within the family. Families high in conversation orientation but low in conformity orientation are labeled pluralistic. Communication in these families is characterized by open, unrestricted discussions that involve all family members and independent ideas.
Families low on conversation orientation but high on conformity orientation are labeled protective. Communication in these families is characterized by an emphasis on obedience and little concern with engaging members in discussion. Children in these families are easily influenced and persuaded by outside authorities. Families low on conversation and conformity orientation are labeled laissez-faire.
Further breakdown expressed the numbers as follows: Professor and management consultant Peter Drucker once stated that: They encourage and celebrate individual achievements and successes. A key element of " positive parenting " is to ensure each member of your family regardless of age is heard, understood and most importantly given an opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings and concerns without contempt or criticism.
Consciously Focus on Your Communication Skills Our most precious relationships in life are those we create with our children.
Relationships and communication
The years quickly pass and lost time can never be recovered. Each stage in your child's life is an immense opportunity to learn and practice your communication skills. Don't avoid this wonderful and important parenting responsibility; make a personal commitment to learn and apply positive communication.
I personally agree with the esteemed motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy when he asserts that communication is a skill you can learn. He maintains it's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.
Good parenting skills in communication are cultivated by exhibiting and modelling positive behaviour, improving listening skills through active listening and in the development of empathic listening skills.
Yes, it takes time, commitment and discipline, but with mindful effort and practice, good communication becomes a habit, leading to loving and harmonious family relationships.
I personally believe it is not just an option to attempt to improve your communication skills Although sometimes challenging, it is also an opportunity for personal growth.