Family communication varies from family to family and also within the same family group from time to time. It means the way that a family processes information between members and includes both verbal and non-verbal methods.
When a child is born into a family it communicates by crying, then smiling and gurgles and attempts at speech. The family communicates back by touch, expression and speech. At first the parents may use ‘baby language’ – doggie, moo-cow etc but over time will replace this with more adult speech. In this way a child learns by example. Some families will talk to each other about each and every subject, others are more reticent especially about certain subjects such as sex. An important part of the communication process is the ability to listen to what others have to say. When a wife complains for instance that her husband doesn’t understand her, she may well mean that he doesn’t listen to her.
As children mature they acquire friends outside the home. They will be more aware that older members of the family may have different views from theirs. This may result in less communication with other family members especially if they don’t wish to reveal what they and their friends are doing.
Later children may well move out or even move away from the district. At this point communication methods will change. The telephone, letter or e-mail will replace face to face communication and certainly won’t be as frequent. But if relationships are good to start with they will survive without the extra input of non-verbal communication.
Poor communication within a family on the other hand leads to weaker emotional bonds, lack of understanding and so to conflict and possible family break up. A couple who aren’t communication well will have different ideas on parenting. A child receives mixed signals as one parent says one thing and the other something something different. Another problem might be where all the discipline comes from one parent and the other just seems to give treats. This is especially possible in families where one partner has left the family home. The result is an unruly child.
So we see that communication is a vital skill for the successful family.