Take a glimpse inside many American households and you’ll find busy schedules: bustling kids, stressed- out parents and a general lack of successful family communication. Do you find yourself listening to a family member, but focusing more on what you want to say? Alternatively, perhaps you find yourself with divided attention between your family member and a mobile device or tv and realize you weren’t paying attention at all. Communication problems are at the heart of some family issues, so this year resolve to fix your family’s communication habits once and for all.
Start by slowing down life just a bit. Put your devices down and turn off the TV, especially at mealtime. Use “I” statements during sensitive conversations; it will help your family members to hear your emotions without becoming defensive. When you hear an “I” statement, be sure to let the person know you’ve heard them by reflecting what you heard them say. Ask questions, maybe even make it a game. Have each person write one question down and put it in a bag. Each morning or night, pick a few questions to discuss over a family meal. Need a few questions to get you started? Look at this worksheet from TherapistAid.com or these Table Topics questions.
The bottom line is we all suffer from communication challenges. If we recognize that we need to work on these to help improve our relationships, we can have a great 2019 and beyond.
Naomi Carrico, MSW, CSW, a member of the JFCS Counseling division. Naomi’s passion is working with children, couples, caregivers, and individuals with anxiety or self-esteem issues. She has worked at JFCS since 2010 and uses many different therapeutic tools. She takes clients who are private pay on a sliding fee scale, Medicaid and Medicare, and sees clients who qualify under our KIPDA grants.
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