Family communication is important in fostering intimacy and accumulating resources. They also help in raising children as independent people capable of interacting with other human systems. The family communication rules are guidelines that govern what is to be expected of all communication in the family, what is allowed and what is prohibited under given circumstances.
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The rules are closely knit into the family culture and are transferred to newer generations by the senior members of the family. The rules dictate the emotional interdependence among family members and therefore family members directly affect each other emotionally, as well in their thoughts, feelings and actions (Le Poire, 2005).
In my family, there is a non-written rule that young members of the family should not question the elder members. The rule further implied that the young should always execute orders or requests by the older members of the family without seeking to know why they have been specifically chosen to perform those tasks. This rule has been very significant in shaping the relationships among the members of my family.
They were formulated mainly in order to govern the child to parent and parent to child communication and prevent incidents of children talking back to their parents when it is not desirable. As long as the communication rules have been observed, children have always been quiet when they are in the sight of their parents unless spoken to.
The effects of this rule include; the relationship among brothers and sisters is not very mutual. The elder children dominate the communication with the younger children. The rules have also made it impossible for the young in the family to air their grievances to parents since it is expected that they feel aggrieved because of their own mistake of failing to listen or act as commanded by their elder brothers or sisters.
The rule has therefore been a major source of fearful respect to elders. Even among adult members of the family the rule has made dispute resolution in favour of the much older members unless the situation is very clear that they are on the wrong. The rule has elevated the oldest member of the family to be the position of head of family since because of their age, their decisions are unquestionable.
Apart from elders, the rule also places wives under their husbands in the age hierarchy. When it comes to family business, important decisions are taken by the head of the family with or without consultations with other members. As a result, success of the family majorly becomes dependent on the wisdom of the head of the family.
Positive impacts of the rule have been that the family relations has been tight and there has always been general agreements on the direction taken by the family as siblings have no reason to debate among themselves on who is right. The rule has also checked on family rivalry.
Another family rule is that bad or sensitive news cannot be told to children. This was informed by the need not to disrupt children’s upbringing by informing them about events that might be too big for them to handle emotionally.
The rule has created the effect of ignorance of basic meanings in life, and has become an obstacle for children who want to learn about their family history and traditions. For example, in my family children cannot be informed of death of a family member including their parents and instead they are given excuses to explain the disappearance.
While the rule serves to insulate children from emotional baggage, it also becomes a source of contention when children grow up and discover that important facts that could have shaped their lives had been hidden from them. A lot of disagreements and breakups have happened in my family because of the non-disclosure rule.
To sum up, communication serves as vehicle that family members use to develop and maintain intimate relations (Vangelisti, 2004). Rules that govern this communication in the family are responsible for how well the communication serves to hold the family together and lead it to prosperity. The rules also significantly affect individual’s view of each other among the family.
Le Poire, B. A. (2005). Family communication: nurturing and control in a changing world.Southern Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Vangelisti, A. L. (2004). Handbook of family communication. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc Publishers.