Families,  General

Why Don’t Families Talk?

Communication is a powerful thing. Lack of it can cause problems in daily life, business life and right up to causing wars. Yet when it’s working, when everyone works like a team, so many good things can happen.

There are lots of ways in which to communicate and you don’t need to be able to talk to do so. My dogs always tell me how they’re feeling – they tell me when they’re hungry or when they need a pee and because I’m ready to receive that communication from them, I understand what they’re telling me. And last year, we visited five different countries, but with a little language, some facial expressions and a bit of charades, we made ourselves understood and it was great fun.

So, if animals can communicate without speech, and different cultures can get by, why is it that families cannot tell each other how they feel? Why do we let misunderstandings, grudges and hurt, mar our relationships with each other?

Seeing the Other Point of View

As a writer, I learn about point of view and a common exercise is to write about the same situation from different characters’ perspective. This is useful when thinking about a family situation you may find yourself in. If you consider how each family member may be looking at the same situation, it may give you an interesting insight into the problem and help you understand and perhaps resolve it.

For example, take my own family – my mother, my sister and myself. I grew up feeling that I was protecting my mum and sister from my dad, who had a violent temper, by keeping him sweet. My sister was jealous and felt I was the favourite and my mum was annoyed that I should be close to a man that did what he did and so she favoured my sister. None of us have ever spoken about this, until recently. We have gone through life clinging onto our pain, jealousy and grudges and missing out on the close relationships we could have had with each other. It’s sad and happens all the time in families.

It’s not until perhaps you get older and start looking at life a bit differently, that you learn. Perhaps there’s been a death in the family or a serious illness that makes you take stock. Usually by then it’s too late, or even if you call a truce, you can’t get back the past.

In another example I know, where a mother walks out on her three year old child. That child takes her feelings of abandonment right through to adulthood. She even rebuilds a relationship with her mother, but the need to know why her mother left her, niggles away at her. Yet she cannot pluck up the courage to ask her why.

Are Our Emotions Holding Us Back?

So why do we wait so long or not at all, to sort out these family quarrels? Is it because we’re too scared to speak up in case we lose each other, but then haven’t we already done that by not talking about it? Is it because we just bury it all and think it’s gone away? It would be so much better to talk to each other and resolve things, but most of us seem emotionally incapable of doing so, but why?

I don’t have the answers and would be interested to hear from you with your theories.

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Images courtesy of Vlado & David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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