Family is great. I was telling someone the other day that I can’t wait to have kids someday! But, the more people who are involved, and usually with family there’s quite a few, it gets harder to communicate. So what can we do?
Have Weekly Meetings: If you’ve got teenage kids or a large, involved immediate family, it’s a great idea to sit down once a week and have a meeting to discuss what’s coming up that week. Get a big piece of paper, a different color pen for each person, and talk about the sports, activities, play dates, late meetings, hair cuts, school activities, appointments, gym time, big school projects etc that are coming up that week. You can also take advantage of this time to plan meals for the week, discuss what you’re all eating for lunch, discuss dinner plans, and make up grocery shopping lists (including shampoo, soap and other things). It’s also a great time to encourage each other with the challenges that you each have in the upcoming week.
Establish Your Communication Expectations: Everywhere I go, no matter how young the kids, they all have cell phones! With this widespread use of cell phone technology, it makes it very easy to stay in contact. And, with texting today it’s even easier to stay in touch. You can tell your kids that the condition with having a cell phone is that they communicate with YOU (not just their friends). They’re expected to tell you changes in plans, to ask you questions, to not just show up with 6 friends after school, etc. This is also a great idea for partners. You’ve got the technology, shoot your partner a quick text that you’re thinking about them, letting them know you’re going to make dinner if you don’t typically, or if you’re going to run to the store you should ask them if they need anything. Yes, I know life gets busy, and typically kids aren’t allowed to have cell phones out in school, but establishing the expectation to really communicate is important.
Set the Example: As the parents, if you show your kids that you and your partner communicate, they will feel more comfortable communicating too. This doesn’t include fighting, fighting is not communicating. (If you are fighting all the time, your communication skills need some work 🙂 ). If you are avid dinner table or car traveling communicators, that’s a great habit to pass along to your kids. Show them that you communicate about everything: feelings, real life, work, each other, struggles, what you’re learning, and more (sex, physical contact and boundaries are important to talk about too, but keep most of the sex in the bedroom). Show that you share your feelings, communicate that you love your partner and your kids, also show that respect is involved in communication by not interrupting others and by giving them ample time to share what they would like to share.
The family is so important yet most people don’t make the effort to communicate in a way that reinforces the relationships, and encourages growth and love. Communicating can help to eliminate fighting, and can also help you have better, healthier, fuller relationships and lives, and be more equipped to deal with change and growth that is a natural part of [family] life.