Think of your family as a team. You’ve got players with different strengths and weaknesses working together to make things run smoothly. Just like any team, though, good communication is key to success.

Defining Communication

What is good communication?

Effective communication is simply getting your message across clearly and understanding the message you receive with equal clarity. It’s not just about talking but also about active listening and ensuring mutual understanding.

Imagine throwing a ball to your child – you want to throw it with the right force and aim so they can catch it easily. Try to catch the return throw, even though it may be off the mark. Keep it up until both throwers are good at it. Remember the object of the game: A fun game of catch with your child! It would be no fun if both players were not engaged in an exchange of throwing the ball. Likewise, effective communication requires sending, receiving, and returning information.  

Five Communication Strategies for Fathers

How do you chat with your family in a way that builds each other up, solves problems, and keeps everyone feeling heard and loved? Here are some tips for effective communication in a family setting:

1. Be an active listener.

This means putting away distractions, making eye contact, and trying to understand what the other family member is saying.

  • Don’t interrupt!
    • Try to rephrase what you heard to ensure you’ve got it right.
    • Imagine you’re putting on a detective hat: your job is to gather all the clues (words, body language, tone of voice) to crack the case of what your family member is trying to tell you.

2. Use “I” statements. ️

Instead of blaming or accusing, talk about how things make you feel.

  • For example, instead of saying, “You never clean up your mess!” try, “I feel frustrated when dishes are left in the sink.”
    • This takes the focus off attacking the other person and puts it on your feelings.

Think of “I” statements as little life rafts: they help you navigate tricky conversations without sinking into blame or anger.

3. Choose your timing wisely. ⏱️

Don’t try to have a deep conversation when everyone’s stressed or rushed. Pick a calm moment when you can all give your full attention.

  • Think of your family like a garden: sometimes, the plants need a little time and space to grow before they’re ready to be pruned or nurtured.
    • Choose your communication moments like you would choose when to tend to your garden.

4. Be respectful, even when you disagree.

Having different opinions is okay but be mindful of how you express them. Avoid name-calling, yelling, or interrupting.

  • Remember, you’re all on the same team: even though you play different positions, you’re working towards the same goal (a happy and healthy family).

5. Celebrate your child’s successes.

Take time to acknowledge and appreciate each other’s accomplishments, big or small. This helps build strong bonds and makes everyone feel valued.

  • Think of your family like a cheering squad: be each other’s biggest fans and celebrate each other’s victories, no matter how big or small.

Children love attention from their dad. When he was a small child, my oldest child craved compliments and pats on the back from me. I learned that:

  • You get more of what you pay attention to. When you lavish “attaboy!”s or “attagirl!”s upon kids, they will do more of what got them your attention.
  • On the other hand, if they only get attention when they fail or do something wrong, you can expect more of the same.

Bonus tips for communicating with children of different ages:

Little ones: 

  • Keep it simple; use clear and concise language. 
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to talk. 
  • Show lots of love and patience!

Teens: 

  • Give them space, but tell them you’re always there to listen. 
  • Respect their privacy but encourage open communication about important things.

Adults: 

  • Lead by example! Show good communication skills yourself and model healthy conflict resolution. 
  • Be open to hearing different perspectives and be willing to change your mind.

Next time, I will share some more suggestions, especially for parenting partners.

Wisdom From the Holy Scriptures

19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – James 1:19

Remember:

Effective communication is a journey, not a destination. There will be bumps along the road, but by following these tips, you can create a family atmosphere where everyone feels heard, respected, and loved. Remember, communication is a muscle that gets stronger with use, so keep practicing, and you’ll be a family communication champion in no time!

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