Improving Communication Between Family Members
Parents’ busy work schedules and children’s schoolwork and extra-curricular activities have left families lacking in proper communication. The reason for this is that the family members spend so little time together and have been reduced to housemates. For those families whose members are scattered in various places due to work and other reasons, things could be even worse. Good communication is critical for a decent and solid family; thus, all the necessary things should be done to promote it.
Below are some tips that family members can use to build proper communication, develop tighter bonds, and be on the same page—even during the most hectic times:
Create opportunities and time for talking
With busy schedules, family members have resorted to simply nodding as they bump into each other in the hallway or talking casually as if they are strangers. Technology has worsened the situation, as when they are together, each member is engrossed in their device—be it a mobile phone, laptop, video game, or the TV—so no meaningful conversation can happen. Family members should have some unwritten rules, like putting away all the gadgets when together—for example during meal times—in order to have some worthwhile conversations. While commuting together, the family members can seize the opportunity by turning down the radio, and putting away books or devices to instead talk with one another. Also, children can reduce their extra-curricular activities to spend more time with their parents or siblings for healthy interactions.
Have meals together
Families can increase the time they spend together by ensuring that some of the meals are eaten together as a family. The best idea is to do it on particular days, for example on Sunday evenings. Implementing the ritual of shared meals makes children and other family members start anticipating the time together and helps them to be accustomed to this positive experience. The beauty of having meals as a family is that people feel free to communicate better than in other settings. This interaction fosters stronger relationships among family members and prepares the little ones to be better members of society and to give them a sense of belonging.
Establish family traditions or routines
Family traditions form a great foundation for comfort for family members, more so for children. For example, narrating or reading bedtime stories to little ones and then tucking them in with a goodnight kiss is a great ritual that will be indelibly imprinted on the children’s memories. They are great childhood traditions. Also, paying the grandparents a visit and having dinner with them are other wonderful traditions. Families could also have a set day for a picnic, an evening out, or another fun activity every month. These traditions promote closer and more intimate relationships, and allow members to communicate freely and help each other express their love for each other.
Use technology to your advantage
While technology—like mobile phones, TVs, and computers—are to blame for cold interactions and poor communication, family members can use them to their advantage. Those who are far apart can catch up frequently by calling, chatting on the various platforms, and video-chatting. Families can also have a family website where they share their hobbies, like posting poems, songs, and other things. Also, family group chats make it possible to have constant communication.
Practice active listening
Family members should learn the art of active listening to promote family communication. It is crucial to learn the 80/20 rule—to listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time, of course not in the strict sense of it, but to listen more than you talk. Also, weighing each word before uttering it is very important. For example, parents should avoid being confrontational, both before hearing the whole story from their children and even after hearing it; they should be cautious as to how they react, lest they deter their children from talking to them in the future. If they happen to overreact, they need to apologize and assure their kids that they are listening and understanding what they are saying.
Improving communication among family members may be difficult and requires tons of effort, but it is worth it. Family members should do what it takes to have better communication. The benefits outweigh the costs by far.