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How to Tackle Family Communication Issues

By Mormon.org
Father and son talking in a garden

You Matter to Me

Healthy communication within the family occurs when the majority of our actions and words say “You matter to me.” Communication issues arise in every family. Because poor communication can cause family relationships to deteriorate, improving these skills is essential for the health and happiness of the family unit and individual family members. Try some of the following suggestions to ensure that each member of your family knows how much they matter to you.

Listen: “I Care about What You’re Experiencing”

Being a good listener shows compassion and empathy. It helps our family members know we care about what they’re going through. One of the biggest faults resulting in hurt feelings and damaged relationships is failing to listen carefully to those we love. Robert Greenleaf said the following: “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.” He’s right. Ideal communication is two-way, and by failing to listen, we often fail to learn. If we approach our family relationships with humility, believing that each family member (regardless of age) has something to teach us, we’ll gain more from the daily interaction with our loved ones.  

Accept and Validate: “Your Feelings Are Important”

To avoid communication problems, family members need to feel comfortable and safe with one another. This happens when they’re confident that no matter what they say, share, or feel, they’re loved and accepted and their feelings matter. Healthy communication occurs when feelings are heard, validated, and worked through with someone you know cares about you.

Keep Calm: “You Can Trust Me”

Sometimes communication, or the lack thereof, causes powerful emotions such as anger or sadness. By remaining calm and avoiding reactive behavior, it becomes easier for our loved ones to express themselves comfortably in our presence. Long-term, calm communication between family members builds trust and confidence in one another.

Watch Your Tone: “Wait—Are You Hearing What I’m Saying or What You Think I’m Saying?”

A calm, even tone of voice is vital to avoid miscommunication. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Children can be especially sensitive when a parent speaks in harsh tones. Words spoken in anger or frustration are often lost, while the emotion that fueled the words can linger for years in the heart and mind of a child. If you find your temper flaring, it may be necessary to temporarily excuse yourself from the situation and allow yourself time to calm down and collect your thoughts. When doing so, be sure to set a specific time for the conversation to continue so the other person does not feel abandoned. Being disciplined and exercising self-control is rewarding and is always better than regret.  

Adding more love to all of your communication will quickly diminish common issues that beset the best of families. To learn more about improving family communication, attend a Latter-day Saint church near you. Click here to search for the nearest meetinghouse.