Does your communication style help or hurt?

Your style of communication can be damaging to your family dynamic and your children's self-esteem. Here are some strategies to change your parenting style so you can build healthy relationships with your children.

An individual’s style of parenting is not only determined by his or her natural behavioral style, but also by the way he was parented by his parents. An abuser becomes an abuser because that is their comfort zone. Here are some strategies to change your parenting style so you can build healthy relationships with your children.

Family dynamics

Each family member has a role they play in the family. For instance, when there is a good relationship between each member of the family, they complement each other. In a dysfunctional family there is a breakdown in the dynamics of the family. Over time, each family member tends to learn their role within the family. If there is a breakdown in your family, you do not support each other or tend to blame one another for your problems.

If this is the case, then first sit down around the family table and discuss what it would take to improve the relationship each family member has with the other. Try to find out from each family member why they act the way they do. As a parent, you might need to understand that your child often mimics your behavior and you might need to learn a better means of communication rather than just constantly criticizing your spouse or your children.

Instead of constantly criticizing, why not help each other in coming up with solutions to a problem. Often when a child is young, it is understandable that the parent tends to be dictatorial. As the child grows older, why not learn how to speak to him as an equal and reason out solutions with which each party is satisfied.

Good Communication

All people are not the same. A strategy that works very effectively with one person may be disastrous with another. If an individual has a dominant personality they often like to control every situation they are in. An individual with an inspirational or communicative style tends to be very verbal. A person with a steadiness behavioral style is someone that does things by the book. A person with a conscientiousness behavioral pattern is one that questions everything. When you understand why each individual responds in the way she does, then you can adapt your behavioral style to communicate in a way with each family member that shows respect without being overbearing.

You should often review and think about ways to create a positive relationship with each member of the family without creating conflicts. Each behavioral style handles conflict differently, decision-making differently, managing time differently, and problems differently.

Unless you relate to each other in a way that shows respect for one another’s feelings and behavioral styles, then you cause unnecessary problems. The following are some questions you should ask family members so you can help one another:

1. What would be the most effective way of communicating with you to show that we support you?

2. What are your decision making tendencies?

3. How can we help you manage your time better?

4. What process do you use in solving problems?

What this shows is mutual respect for each other’s feelings. It builds a healthy relationship between family members when you understand why each member responds or acts the way he does. It also allows you to make constructive criticism to a family member in a respectful manner.

Mutual Respect

Before someone can learn to respect someone else they first have to learn how to love themselves. The healthiest relationships are when someone thinks to herself, “I’m OK, you’re OK.” The unhealthy types of relationships are. “I’m OK, you’re not OK,” and “I’m not OK, you’re OK.” The worst relationship is, “I’m not OK, you’re not OK.”

The image you have of yourself as an adult often is formed by the relationship you had with your parents. If they were highly critical then you formed the message that they would giving you as, “You’re not OK.” If they were supportive and encouraging then you often received the message, “You’re OK.” These messages that we receive from our parents from the way they communicate with us as children, influence the way we learn to communicate with our peers, our spouse and our children.

To change the way you communicate with your family, you can attend self-help groups in your church, at your community mental health center, or groups posted on community bulletin boards. When someone feels bad about themselves and they don’t know how to handle the situation in a healthy manner they may also turn to drugs and alcohol, which creates another set of problems. Where possible, it is important that all members of the family attend together.

These are just some suggestions to consider to make good positive changes in your life and your family.

Davida Shensky

Davida graduated from Armstrong Atlantic University in Savannah, GA. and is CEO of Career Performance Institute, a career & personal development company. As a "Disabled American" she has many limitations to overcome based on society's attitudes.