Communication is essential in any relationship because it bridges the gap between individuals who co-exist within an organization. In a family relationship, all forms of communication are encouraged so as to co-exist in harmony and unity. Without communication, conflicts may arise leading to physical and psychological effects on those who live within the same roof including children, parents, and those who are part of the family like house helps.
A family is the basis of the composition of the society whereby family members are the ones who form the society at large by contributing to the roles they play in the society. Also, the family contributes to the existence and functioning of institutions like church, schools, hospitals and other social places. In the current society, there are several types of families ranging from those whose members are two in case of single parent families to those with many members like extended families, polygamous and nuclear families. Jane and Jerry are a couple with two little kids aged 2 and 5 years old. Jane and Jerry come from different communities with different backgrounds, which results to differences in terms of thinking and general lifestyle. Jane comes from a rich family while Jerry comes from a relatively poor family. However, they love each other, and they have a common goal of having a happy and prosperous family.
Nevertheless, through the need to accomplish this goal, they face many challenges which are solved through communication as they both believe that misunderstandings are common in a successful family because of their different backgrounds, likes, dislikes and what is required is effective interpersonal communication in order to maintain the relationship. The children are also taught the importance of communicating their ideas and feelings from the tender age to keep and maintain the habit for good living with the rest of the family.
Family members have undergone various life developmental stages which include birth, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Each stage has unique characteristics different from another with more developed characteristics like communication in adulthood unlike childhood. Stages involve changes which are orderly and normal for every person though some delays may be experienced in the course of changes, for example, delay in talking, walking in case of children; this may have a negative impact especially on parents and children psychologically.
The three broad stages of development between birth and adulthood include early childhood (0-8 years), middle childhood (8-12) and late childhood also known as adolescent (12-18 years). In early childhood, there is a rapid growth taking place, and this contributes much to skill development which is used during interaction. There is much physical development, and various skills are developed, such as walking, hand-eye coordination, which helps in interacting with the environment. The fine motor skills developed at this stage help in communicating with fellow peers; for example, using pencils, crayons which are used for scribbling – this is a form of communication at this early stage. Also, gross motor skills may include running, jumping, skipping; all these help in interaction with peers.
In this stage of development, the child develops cognitive and language skills so that there is verbal communication because from birth to one year, the child communicates through senses and reacts to a different situation, but between two years and eight, the child communicates verbally with other people. They can also draw pictures to explain things around them and some concepts like money. The socio-emotional development in the early months forms the basis of attachment and relationship to those around; this means that forms and models of relationships are formed in the earlier periods of life. In this stage, attachment concept of development emphasizes on positive attachment from parents, siblings and the caregivers. In the later stage of 3-5 years, children form peers, identify their gender that they can interact with, and they can differentiate the simple knowledge of right and wrong. It is at this stage of development when any delays like hearing, talking, walking require much attention, which to a certain extent is incorporated with special therapies. It is also at this stage, especially from age 3, when children are prepared for schooling, which means preparation for learning.
In the middle childhood, it is perceived to be less active than in early childhood and adolescent, and there is slow growth. However, cognitive skills, personality and interaction relationships continue to develop, and they come into contact with a larger society than the family. The process of integration is emphasized with the learning of basic societal values and what is required of them like obedience, respect; all this is done through communication from the parents, siblings and other institutions like schools and churches. Learning and working with their hands motivates children because they make achievements as they work towards reaching perfection and building their self-esteem among their peers and those around. Because of their interaction and integration with peers and society, they develop more interpersonal and social relationships which are influenced by their family and other social institutions like schools where they associate with their classmates. The way they communicate prepares them for the coming stage of adolescence, and proper communication skills allow them to have better relationships in adulthood by helping them choose best friends.
In school, children develop various interests in fields of sport, art, music and many other careers, and the cognitive skills earned help them achieve academic skills which will improve their performance in class. Schools should offer good relationship within this stage because pressure may lead to violence, eating disorders, depression and drug use, which may affect their studies and future life.
In adolescence, sexual signals begin to appear, which will later prepare them to adulthood by making them identify themselves in terms of gender and the likes and dislikes. The most occurring developmental process in this stage is sexual maturation, which for females takes place as early as thirteen while male may take up to fifteen. There is extensive cognitive development where thinking and reasoning take major course in developing ideas, solving problems and planning future. In this stage, relationships are numerous as adolescents meet a wide range of people, and they have many responsibilities and expectations in the many situations in life, thus, interactions are more personal, and communication plays a vital role in maintaining positive and healthy interpersonal relationships.
Through interactions in school and other social institutions, many adolescents try to attain self-dependence in ways of thinking, reasoning and behaving. However, it may cause conflicts on what is done and what is expected because they struggle to achieve their self-esteem, and the need to have their own identity leads them to developing unique behavior which may sometimes be accompanied by emotional development such as mood swings.
Exposure on media has contributed much to issues such as premature sex, school violence, drug abuse, eating disorders and unique lifestyle from that of the rest of society members. Also, this is the stage where psychological disorders start to develop, such as depression and various mood disorders which are more experienced in adulthood stage.
To avoid many problems occurring at this stage, parents, guardians and teachers should create a good relationship with the adolescents so as to guide them on the various changes they face. Mentors and role models are required in this stage to help them face their challenges positively with best outcomes of growth and maintaining a good relationship now and in the future.
Family builds up when two people come together; communication forms the basis of introduction, from knowing each other shallowly to deep knowledge of the other person until uniting and forming a family. Stages involved may include friendship, courting, marriage and romance. In the case of Jane and Jerry, their interaction started as early as middle childhood stage when they attended the same school, and they were attracted to each other despite different backgrounds. As it is mentioned above, middle childhood form peers under the influence of family and institution, thus, Jane and Jerry maintained their childhood friendship. After finishing High school, Jane and Jerry decided to take a step further, and this is due to the thinking and reasoning adolescents tend to have in order to attain their identity. It is the need of identity together with their changes in behavior that lead to premature sex that resulted in their first born, and thus they settled as a family.
Stages of courtship and planning for marriage were omitted so that they never studied each other’s character in depth, which is facilitated during courtship. It is through courtship that they will know each other intimately, know one’s strengths and weaknesses and plan their future together by sharing goal and vision.
As Jerry comes from a lower-income family, their living conditions were rather poor: they lacked many things including food and shelter. This led Jerry to associate with different peers in school so as to gain confidence and get physically and psychologically satisfied as they supported him with food and other basic materials. In turn, Jerry gave them class support, and this contributed much to their friendship with Jane. Also, the loss of Jerry’s only sister led him to be closer to Jane so as to get the love that the sister could provide and intensified their interaction. Through the media and need to experience, they entered into marriage unplanned, which has resulted into many difficulties though they solve them through communication.
Self-disclosure ensures that one gets information about the other without asking. When one discloses personal information in a relationship, he/she takes a risk of rejection or break up. Self-disclosure is an important part of communication, and it helps in taking relationships a step further. There are two main types of self-disclosure: evaluative and descriptive disclosure. Evaluative disclosure displays general likes and dislikes and the attitude one has to events and things while descriptive is intimate and involves self-exposure to the other person in totality like revealing one’s character. In mid childhood and adolescence, there is so much evaluative disclosure which makes a person get more attached to another, unlike adulthood is approached with descriptive because they what to identify themselves, and in friendship, it is mostly evaluative while in courtship, descriptive disclosure tends to take the larger part of communication.
Jane and Jerry had their individual differences, however, they tried to tackle them in order to reach their goal of having a happy family. Through self-disclosure, they were able to solve some of the problems that arose after coming together, and they were able to understand what is private and what is public and whom to share with. It is through this that they were able to bridge the gap of their backgrounds. Self-disclosing is reciprocal so that both parties must be compelled to disclose when the other person discloses; through this interaction, Jane and Jerry were able to maintain their intimacy. When two people are married, the level of self-disclosure increases, and this encourages more intimacy between them by improving their trust and closeness. Also, it helps in reducing stress and maintaining good health, which will eventually promote good intimacy in a family.
Conflicts arise as a result of differences in expectations, solving problems, making wrong assumptions, values and general ways of living as a result of how one was brought up. There are different types of conflicts which may include couple relationship conflict, which involves couples, family conflict, which involves family members, parent-child conflict where parent differs with the children and the siblings’ conflicts, which involve brothers and sisters.
Couple conflicts were managed by negotiation because both Jane and Jerry knew the benefit of solving their problems through communication. This helped them to arrive at a solution with which each of them was satisfied. Also, they both ensured that everyone wins from the solutions reached. Assuming conflicts never worked for them because the conflict kept on arising.
In case of parent-child relationship, authoritative measures were used systematically and appropriately to solve the conflicts because their children were young, thus they needed to be told what is right and wrong.
To improve communication in family relationships, couples must develop listening skills with a positive attitude, eye contact; a simple response will make a spouse or children feel that they are heard and understood instead of facing away, concentrating on other things. Listening boosts the feelings and drives at solving problems and maintaining a good relationship.
Jerry should focus much on spending quality time together with his family so that everyone including children can put across the challenges they are facing as they grow up, and Jane should ensure that there is routinely communication to know how one is progressing in his/her daily activity.
Jane should learn not to get upset with everything because small issues need to be tackled so that they do not emerge as a conflict. Also, she should learn not to keep grudges because they can rekindle the past conflicts.
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