Make good communication the basis of your family life. Communication is the foundation of a healthy family. Without it, mothers, fathers, siblings, and children don’t know what to expect or how to get what they need. But a family whose members can talk freely and share their feelings will endure all sorts of hardships without cracking. Keep these guidelines in mind for communicating with honesty and love:
• Listen to each other. Practice active and respectful listening with everyone in your family, from infants to grandparents. Don’t jump to conclusions or interrupt when they’re speaking. Make sure you understand what they’re saying before you respond.
• Think before speaking. Whether you’re arguing or discussing dinner, try not to blurt out the first words that come to mind. Think about how the other person might react, and choose your words with care to prevent a needless confrontation.
• Make time to talk. Some conversations shouldn’t be rushed. When you need to talk out a major issue, schedule enough time for everyone to be heard. You don’t need a crisis to make time for each other, though. Make an effort to give everyone the attention they deserve for as long as they need it.
• Work on your patience. When you’re tired or stressed out, you may have trouble maintaining your self-control. But losing your temper or pushing a family member too hard can make communication impossible. If necessary, call a timeout or take some deep breaths to remain calm when you feel your patience slipping.
• Show some empathy. Don’t just say, “I know how you feel.” Make a positive effort to understand how your family members feel, no matter how young or old they are. Small children and the elderly can both feel helpless at times; adults may feel the pressure of competing demands. If you can see things from their point of view, you’ll do a better job of solving problems and enjoying real intimacy.