Home Gesundheit Wie gut es für Sie ist, mit Verwandten in Kontakt zu bleiben

Wie gut es für Sie ist, mit Verwandten in Kontakt zu bleiben

von NFI Redaktion

From the very beginning, families are faced with forces that could potentially tear them apart. As a family matures, it becomes difficult to cope with the potential loss of connection and the feeling that things are changing.

This makes communication even more important.

„The idea of feeling connected strengthens us all greatly and contributes to happiness, mental health, and even physical health,“ says John Northman, a psychologist from Buffalo, NY.

„It is known that people who feel more connected and physically well are definitely less likely to be depressed – or if they are, they are better able to come out of depression.

„Overall, it leads to a sense of greater psychological support and connection,“ he said.

Research on the importance of communication in families is extensive and diverse.

In the Handbook of Family Communication, editor Anita Vangelisti, a professor at the University of Texas, writes: „Communication creates families. When family members communicate, they do more than just send each other messages – they shape their relationships.“

An article in the journal Military Medicine states that communication can work in both directions in families. It says that soldiers on deployment experience a great deal of positive mood when they communicate with people back home, but in some cases, this contact can also have negative effects.

Ultimately, good family communication is important because families are the ones we turn to most often for support, says Vangelisti. When families do not communicate, support systems can fall apart.

Support for family members can take many different forms, says Vangelisti, including:

Emotional support: „To make us feel better and share happy moments with each other,“ she says.

Validation support: „Making us feel good, affirming when things are good, helping when things are not so good.“

Network support: „That sense of belonging. This is really important in families so that you have a home base, a place where you feel accepted and belong, no matter what happens.“

Informational support: How to do things that others in a different family setting may have done.

Tangible support: Things like financial support and care packages from home.

Once you realize that communication is important for your family, you need to figure out how. Even now, when everyone has a mobile phone at hand, it can be difficult to maintain the connection.

Haven’t heard from a relative in a while? Can’t find time to call home? Emails are wonderful tools… unless they’re not.

„Emails are known to cause misunderstandings because people create them quickly and thoughtlessly,“ says Arthur Bodin, a psychologist and former president of the American Psychological Association.

They can easily be misunderstood because the tone is often missing.

„It leads to poor emotional communication,“ says Bodin.

Similarly, text messages or tweets – even phone calls – can miss the cues that you can only get through a visual connection. Anyone who has used Skype or FaceTime knows that these forms of communication are not always the best either.

Still, something is better than nothing, emphasizes Vangelisti.

„I think what most communication people would emphasize,“ she says, „is that it’s less about the channel and more about how that channel is handled.“

When a child is not at school or a parent is separated from the family, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out who should take the first step in communication.

„If someone doesn’t take that risk and reach out,“ says Vangelisti, „it’s not going to happen.“

Some psychologists caution against demanding communication.

„Call me every Friday night“ may not only be impossible, it could also be counterproductive for someone trying to establish themselves in a new situation. Demands don’t work in such situations, says Bodin. Understanding does.

„First of all, you don’t call them every night or at a specific time,“ says Bodin, specifically referring to a parent with a child in college. „You don’t guilt them if they don’t want to call their mother or father.

„You recognize that they have a life of their own. You don’t try to micromanage every detail for them.“

Still, family members who desire a connection can find a way.

  • Ask, don’t demand a call or email.
  • Send a card or a brief email.
  • Leave a message or send a text without expecting or demanding a response.

Not every lecture or letter has to be profound. You can talk about dogs, the weather, your health, the neighbors who used to live next door, or your new neighbors. Talking about the latest crazy thing Aunt Edna said could actually help strengthen your connection.

Psychologist David Olson developed the Circumplex Model of Marital & Family Systems to study and treat families. It breaks down three aspects of the marital and family system:

  • Cohesion
  • Flexibility
  • Communication

It suggests that these things are crucial for successful family communication:

  • Listening skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Self-disclosure
  • Clarity
  • Pursuit of continuity
  • Respect and regard

Psychologists talk about „families of orientation“ and „families of procreation.“ In other words, the family you were born into and the family you create.

Communication plays an important role due to transition stress in keeping both intact.

The good news is that families, even those in transition, have a big advantage – they can stay in touch.

They are a family.

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