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“Dad, will you tell Tina not to come into my room?” Twelve-year-old Luke was complaining about his six-year-old sister. Luke’s Dad, Robert, had only just got home and was still hanging up his coat. “Dad! She’s bugging me!” called Luke as he led Tina by the hand into the lounge room. “A ‘hello’ would be nice,” said Robert. “Yeah, hi. I’m trying to do my science project. I need my space,” Luke replied. “Tina, how about you stay out here with me?” Robert suggested. Tina was not very keen on this idea. “But I want to play and you’ll be too busy,” she whined. “Here we go again”, thought Robert. “If only we all got on better.”
Managing family relationships so that everyone’s most important needs get met can be hard work. All families have times when tempers get frayed, feelings get hurt and misunderstandings occur. Maintaining positive connections when these things happen requires good communication and creative management. Effective communication means that everyone has a say and is listened to. This can be a challenge in busy families. Pressure to get things done can mean there seems to be little ‘quality time’ for talking and listening to each other. Whether or not time is a problem, negative styles of communication often undermine relationships. This occurs, for example, when family members speak to each other disrespectfully or use put-downs. Building positive family relationships does not mean having no conﬂict. Dealing with conﬂicts positively, as well as making time to relax and do fun things together, help to strengthen family relationships.
Set the tone for positive communication
Research on communication in families shows the importance of parents and carers communicating warmth and caring and also setting clear expectations for children’s behaviour. Making time for family members, communicating effectively and supporting each other are important ways of strengthening families and building positive relationships. Parents and carers can set a positive tone for communication through their own example. The way you listen, and the attention and importance you give to what family members say, is as important as what you say to them and how you say it. This may not always be easy, especially when you are tired or busy and have to deal with complaining or conﬂict. However, listening and acknowledging others’ feelings and wants helps to reduce conﬂict and improves communication.
Working together as a family
Discussing things as a family is often very helpful for dealing with concerns and negotiating solutions to conﬂ icts before they get bigger.
- Talking together provides an opportunity to clarify roles and expectations.
- Be sure to talk about what is working well in family relationships and not just the difﬁculties.
- Build trust in family discussions by respecting and listening to everyone’s views without judging or putting them down.
- Encourage children as well as adults to hear and understand each other’s views and needs.
Discussing things as a family can encourage children as well as adults to solve problems creatively. For example, once he understands that Tina just wants him to play with her, 12-year-old Luke might negotiate to spend a half-hour playing with her after dinner in exchange for her giving him uninterrupted time to get on with his homework. Having a chance to express needs in positive ways encourages healthy communication, support and cooperation.
Things to discuss
- Set up chores roster
- Tina wants to play more
- Luke wants space when he has to do schoolwork
- Dad (Robert) wants more hellos and hugs
Listening and talking
It is easier for others to listen and accept your point of view when the way you say it communicates respect and care. For example, Robert could say to Luke, “I know you had to get your science project done but I still want you to say ‘hello’ when I come home.” This shows that Robert understands Luke’s position, and wants Luke to understand his. Small things, like saying, “How was your day?” and really listening to the answer, make a difference to the quality of communication in families. Saying sorry when you make a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings is also really important.
Ways to build caring family relationships
- Show affection (eg hugs and kisses)
- Offer help and support
- Do fun things and laugh together
- Make time to talk
- Really listen to each other
See about family relationships for more tips.
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The rate at which our population is growing, one can easily proclaim that a day will come when we will experience major scarcity of basic items such as food, clothing and shelter. Going by the facts, it won�t be an understatement to declare that we will end up polluting Mother Nature to the extreme, and thereby end up creating a perfect recipe for disaster, which might take a huge toll of human lives in the years to come. Today, you will find most state governments encouraging small families to avoid the harsh implications associated with over population. Small family is required not only to keep environmental hazards and other economic issues at bay, but also to ensure better quality of life.
As such, a small family promises well-fed and healthy family members. Goes without saying, kids will receive more love and attention from their parents. If you have many kids, you will be left with a daunting task of disciplining them and injecting good values in them. It�s like coaching an overcrowded classroom, where only few understand while others only listen. You will most likely miss out on quality time, otherwise required to imbibe good values in your kids. It�s not uncommon to witness family heads getting overwhelmed with responsibilities, especially when they have a large family. Goes without saying, with a large family size, one can expect personal and professional issues in bulk. For a parent, attending practice sessions, open house and other events is a must to track their child�s progress. Your kids will miss you drastically, if you don�t attend important events in their lives. Whereas, if you have a small family, you will be able to attend fruitful activities without throwing an arm and leg, thereby ensuring that everyone in the family has a healthy dose of smile on their cheeks.
Remember, each head in your family has a cost. The size of a family hugely determines the financial health. We all know how stressful life can get without sufficient funds in hands. Larger family would involve more cost on food, clothing, education and other expenses. A small family would mean keeping these expenses low. Also, the quality and quantity of foods served on the table can take a hit, if you have a large family. Goes without saying, chances of foetal death and birth defects are less in smaller families.
Education is another important factor that can go for a ride. Unless money is not a problem in your house, you will end up depriving your kids the opportunity to pursue further studies. A small family usually ends up leading a less stressful life. Larger the size of a family, larger is the number of bad events. Lack of privacy is another issue that has been associated with large families. If you have a small family, you will be able to squeeze quality time for yourself. Remember, if you are happy, only then you will be able to keep people around you happy as well, which is why it�s said, "Small family is a happy family".
Margrit Bradley is a licensed cosmetologist and hairdresser. With more than twelve years experience, Ms. Bradley furthers her education by attending classes, workshops, and beauty shows. She also loves to read and explore new information and write on interesting topics.
View all articles by Margrit Bradley
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