What is family communication?

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We are all members of a family. Some of us interact with our family on a daily basis, some of us are not in contact with our families at all, and some of us have non-blood ties with our families.  Every family is different and the perfect family does not exist.  Communication within our families enables us to express our feelings, needs, wants, and concerns for others.  Trenholm & Jensen (2013) state that “once you understand the processes underlying family interaction, you should be a better judge of your family of origin (the family that produced you) as well as any family you help produce in the future” (p. 231).  In other words, families teach us how to communicate and are our first classroom.

What is your belief statement about families?

We all have different beliefs about families.  Some people say “I believe that families bring you the most pain and joy that you will ever experience.”  While others might say, “I believe the family is the most important factor in developing our self-concept.”  These belief statements reflect different views of families and no one belief is more correct than the other.  These belief statements reflect personal experiences. 

Why is this important?

Family relations impact our lives in every way, from how we relate to other people to how we perform at work. We establish and maintain the relationships within our family through communication.  This allows us to enact our relationships, show support or even create stress.  Research on military families has found that when deployed soldiers talk with family members at home (either via phone, skype, or zoom), it can be uplifting or cause depression. This illustrates the direct impact that family communication and familial relationships have on our emotional state.  In addition, some of the most frequently mentioned reasons for missing work are family issues, an illness in the family or family emergencies. 

Why study Family Communication?

A course in Family Communication can offer you greater insight into your own family communication patterns and help you to establish new patterns in your future family.  We know that positive relationships with people close to us effects our health, life satisfaction, and our performance at work.  The study of family communication can help us to understand and improve our family relationships and feel better about life!

By: Fran Dickson, Ph.D., professor


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