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Diane Miller - Healthy families communicate

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Posted: March 15, 2008 2:22 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    Without exception, every research study completed on family strengths lists communication as a trait of strong or healthy families. The family members in strong families enjoy talking to each other. However, it is not just talking or verbal communication that is important. The non-verbal messages sent out are also heeded.
    Strong families exhibit some or all of these aspects of communication. They keep messages honest but also kind.
    • keep criticizing, malicious teasing, turn-off words and put-down phrases, evaluating and superior attitudes to a minimum
    • open up understanding — check to be sure you understand what the other person is saying before you react,
    • encourage independent thinking and individual feelings,
    • listen, from the heart, to what the other person is saying,
    • pay attention to and respect non-verbal messages,
    • control television time,
    • air disagreements and grievances while they are current,
    • laugh with each other, laughter can help build relationships,
    • interrupt but equally, spontaneity is more characteristic of conversation than manners and polite conversation techniques
    • develop a pattern of reconciliation, interestingly, in healthy families the first gestures or communications toward forgiveness or ending the squabble are heeded.
     Communication is a vital part of our day-to-day interaction within families. The more positive it is, the greater the potential for healthy family relationships. Columnist Dolores Curran suggests that it is our communication in the family that keeps us from being a household of roommates, “It’s the energy that fuels the caring, and giving, and sharing.”
     In strong families all lines of communication are open, information flows freely. Members of strong families put forth the effort to hear what the other person says and feels. They also are comfortable voicing opinions of their own and are open to change. Though they do not always agree, they do get everything out in the open.

    For more information on communication in families, contact Diane at (912) 871-0504, dianem@uga.edu or www.ugaextension.com/bulloch.
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