Communication Woes in a Family

We can classify family communication or conversation as: preferred communication, guarded communication, unlimited communication, cosmetic conversation and dangerous communication.

Preferred Communication

We prefer to talk with friends and relations, who are either rich and influential, or who knows intimately an influential person for obvious reasons. The postulate is applicable universally, within a family or society.

We divide humanity in two groups: our group and other group. We associate ourselves with our family, our language, our culture, our state, our country and our religion.

Even within the family, we have God made relations (parents, children and siblings) and manmade relation (spouse, and in-laws). Most of us prefer to communicate/converse with God made relations over manmade relations. We are more comfortable when we chat with our siblings, parents and children, as we have grown together. We are formal during conversation with in-laws including daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law; the only exception is the spouse. During honeymoon period or for a few years later, we are at ease with the spouse, when warmth and intimacy is still visible for all to see. It cools down later. Familiarity brings in casualness, indifference or even contempt.

There is one way communication in families among some relations. Sisters are eager to talk with brothers or vice-versa; but with sisters-in-law it is one way communication from sister to sister-in-law. Brothers are keen to talk with each other; but with brothers-in-law it is one way communication from brother to brother-in-law.

Communication within extended family and within immediate family differ qualitatively and quantitatively. Grandparents are part of extended family to grandchildren and do not belong to the immediate family. During childhood, grandchildren interact with their grandparents and love them, but when in teens, the love gets diluted. It hurts grandparents. Childhood friendship /intimacy is like drawing a line on water, it has very short life.

Guarded Communication

Parents talk with their children without any inhibition, but it is not same with daughter-in-law or son-in-law. Spouses talk with Parents-in-Law carefully. Mother and daughter talk for hours, carefree and spontaneously. Conversation between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is formal and guarded, for a slip of tongue can play havoc for years to come. Verbal encounters leave lasting impact and warmth between relations is never same. We tend to forget and forgive our God made relations but never our manmade relations. Why is it so? We communicate with God made relations from our childhood. We get used to it. There are sweet and sour memories of growing together till teens. Thus there is natural, and spontaneous conversation with siblings and parents.

Our first serious relationship outside our family, develops during our teens, when we have a boy/girl friend. There is a cosy but formal, exciting but guarded conversation with the boy/girl friend. It is not spontaneous. It is invariably a synthetic and structured conversation. The spouses converse and communicate with similar constraints.

Unlimited Communications

The era of short conversations, lasting couple of minutes is long over. Cheaper call rates encourage the users to indulge in long conversations. We get addicted. There is over-indulgence in this unproductive activity. People keep chatting even if there is nothing to talk to. This is time-pass activity and it does no good to society.

Cosmetic Communication

The paradox of modern era is that friends, relations and spouses don’t share warmth and enthusiasm of life. Their communication is cosmetic and lacks warmth. There is concern for each other in conversation; but it lacks depth. The couple may continue to share a common goal: welfare of family; but there are individual career goals too, which take over-riding priority. The spouses want to pursue their careers to enhance own status in the society and for the extra money which is always needed, for a successful life.

The time spent together dwindles and spouses adjust their life style. It is not a healthy trend in married life. To make up for time, all desirable entertaining/leisure activities are mechanically executed.There is avoidable hurry even when we intend to: see a movie, visit resorts, buy gifts, hug each other or indulge in romance. Life is no longer warm, it is cold and cordial.

The maxim ‘old is gold’ is true, but spouses can take each other for granted. It results in casualness, lack of warmth and enthusiasm in life. The mantra for a successful relationship is to sustain the honeymoon euphoria as a permanent life style and avoid cosmetic conversations which are cordial but mechanical.

Dangerous Communications

People walk and talk with mobile all the time. They even drive and talk with mobile cleverly hidden. In Oriental countries people drive two-wheelers with one hand and hold mobile in second. People cross railway tracks, listening FM channels with ear-phones in the ears and fail to hear the approaching train. These are dangerous trends in society. We have to learn to live with technological advances.

Communication a Boon or Bane!

Communication and conversation are unique characteristics of humanity; other species have it, but to a very limited level. Is it a boon or bane? It depends upon us, the users. We can learn and inculcate the art of conversation; if we realise its importance. It will enhance peace and harmony in family, society and world at large