Communication is a vital part of human relationships and especially family relationships within the home. Families that communicate well are not perfect families, but they do offer a stronger foundation to deal with life’s struggles, mistakes and unexpected events. Here are three questions and some thoughts as to why they are so important for you to consider.
1. Do I talk with each person in the family on a regular basis?
The observation to make here is that for communication to be good it must first exist. Now there are going to be differences in the way families communicate. Some families are small and very close other are large with parents working differing shifts. No family is exactly teh same nor communicates exactly the same. The big question here is not how you stack up compared to other families, but do you make a purposeful effort to talk and communicate with all of your immediate family members? Do you know what is going on in their lives, what their hopes and dreams and plans are? If you answer no or at least consider such questions with reservation, then it is time to start exploring opportunities to increase your family conversations.
2. Do I encourage family discussion around the dinner table?
Do you share having a meal as a family and not scattered all over the place? That is a great starting point. We should be encouraging family togetherness and the dinner place is a wonderful place for it. As for communication around the table, sometimes we have to force the issue to get everyone talking, but if we stay the course it will become a more natural discussion point overtime. This does not mean every conversation has to be serious and deep. It can be silliness and fun at times. The point is that when more serious things come up in each other’s lives, there is a freedom to share.
3. Do I really hear what family members are saying?
Frequency, and togetherness are important aspects of communication, but listening is so very important. James speaks of the importance of being swift to hear:
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
In the context James is encouraging us as readers to be swift to hear to avoid reacting in wrath. We often here bits and pieces of things or don’t listen carefully, get the wrong picture, and then blow up. Though the avoidance of wrath is not our main idea for our discussion, it does have some relevance. Being swift to hear is so vital to good communication in the family even if “wrath” is not an issue. If we can encourage one another to listen carefully, so much confusion and frustration can be alleviated. Also the sense that we are being understood or the other person desires to understand us can be a powerful feeling to encourage more intimate discussion. We become more trusting that the other person will be sensitive to what we have to
Take sometime to reflect on these questions. I pray it will lead to a greater focus on good communication in your home.
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