Parenting is a tough job, and one thing that can make it next to impossible is if communication breaks down between family members. This is most likely to happen between parents and teenagers, and that’s one reason why it’s important to lay down ground rules before the major blowouts that occur when hormones rage and generational differences cause cosmic rifts in relationships.
Five ways in particular that you can maintain these open channels of talking between close family members include enjoying family meals together, writing in personal journals and sharing as desired, making sure not to judge or punish for honesty, accepting privacy and friendships of family members, and taking the step to go to family therapy if you can’t work the details out on your own.
Enjoy Family Meals Together
Teenagers and parents often both end up complaining about each other. And a lack of communication is at the center of this tension. So, if you want a quick and easy way to alleviate some of that communication pain and anxiety, make family meals a priority. They don’t have to be all the time, and they don’t have to be forced, but simply be sitting down and eating and being aware of a moment together, you’d be amazed at the headway you can make into conversation.
Write In Personal Journals
If everyone in the family keeps a personal journal, this can be a huge benefit for open communication. And these journals should be private. But, when situations come up where it feels like there’s no connection between family members, if everyone gets out their journals and is willing to share certain parts, that’s a great conversation starter.
Don’t Judge Or Punish For Being Honest
One way that communication breaks down is if one person in a family is honest about something, and someone else reacts negatively. From the point on, it’s understood that it’s better to keep secrets that approach conflict head-on. That’s a very dangerous path, but one that’s way too common. Avoid judging and punishing, and those lines will stay open.
Accept Privacy and Friendships You Don’t Understand
Not everyone in a family is going to like everyone’s else’s friends. People are different. They want different people around them. And they can expect a certain degree of privacy about why those relationships are important to them. If there’s some sense of acceptance missing in this basic tenet, avenues of communication will close down quickly.
Try Family Therapy If Necessary
If you can’t seem to find the answers about how to get your family to open up, there’s no shame in contacting a local family therapist. Having a third party involved like this is a great way to ensure that everyone gets equal footing when it comes to conversation topics as well.