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What Are the Variables That Influence Family Communication?

by Lillian Wade, studioD

Effective family communication is the foundation of good family relationships among children and parents. The communication process is three-pronged. Verbal language is actually the least indicator of a good relationship. More is communicated through facial expressions than any other indicator, followed by body language and tone of voice. To help children learn socialization skills and to maintain a close, intimate connection, parents need to model good communication through interacting with one another as they solve problems and relate to friends.

Quality Family Time

Spending quality time together draws families closer and forms the basis for discussions that otherwise would not happen. Whether dining together, having car-time while driving to and from activities, or during homework sessions, families tend to talk about what is going on in their lives and have the opportunity to interact in personal ways. Healthy communication provides many teachable moments for the family and offers occasions to praise one another when warranted. Quality time does not always have to be joyous; share problems and frustrations -- if appropriate -- as they are also a part of family life.

Busy Careers

Today's busy careers may not always allow families to spend time together and have meaningful conversations. Take the time to talk and listen; get rid of television or other distractions that may prevent uninterrupted moments together. Give each other a chance to openly express feelings without diminishing what is being said. Busy parents may have to be creative in their approach to finding quality family time -- leaving home later or arriving home earlier, working from home, using technology, or scheduling family meetings. These suggestions may provide ample occasions to talk and listen.


Email, texts, Facebook and Skype can all be effective communication tools. Using the computer to discuss problems or facilitate long-distance relationships when you cannot have face-to-face time can be very effective. Online communication allows members to feel connected to the family and maintain their customary role. When conflicts are the issue, online communication provides a “cooling- off” period and allows each partner the time to think about the situation and reflect on the problem instead of reacting immediately.


A University of California, Davis study has found that children who are nurtured and emotionally supported by parents are more likely to have an emotional investment in their own adult relationships. The quality of the family relationship may affect the health of children’s own marriages when they reach adulthood. Communication is easier when families respect what each thinks and feels, and nurturing through affection and affirmation shows this sensitivity to one another’s needs. Good communication is a two-way street and occurs when all members of the family are attentive and interested in what others in the family have to say and are open to occasions to talk as well as to listen.

About the Author

In 1968 Lillian Wade began teaching English with writing as an essential component, overseeing class newspaper projects each year. Wade holds a Bachelor of Science in business education with a minor in English from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Science in career education from California State University.

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