Chapter 4: Family Communication Rules & Family Rituals

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  • Like snowflakes, no two families (or family members) are alike!
  • Remember back to the Weekly Discussion we had on how you would describe your family to a houseguest. In a sense, you were defining your relational culture to that person!
  • Chapter 4: Family Communication Rules & Family Rituals

    1. 1. CHAPTER 4: COMMUNICATION PATTERNS AND THE CREATION OF FAMILY MEANINGS “ Every family creates its own identity.”
    2. 2. Every Family Creates Its Own Identity <ul><li>The interaction of YOUR family members creates an overall experience of family life that cannot be re-created by any other family. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Relational Culture <ul><li>Each family develops a relational culture (also known as a “jointly constructed worldview”). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relational Culture: “private world of rules, understandings, meanings and patterns of acting and interpreting that partners create for their relationship.” (Wood, 1995) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relational culture emerges from the meanings that family members assign to events, rituals, activities, symbols and interactions that comprise their family life. </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Relational Culture: Your Family’s “Normal” <ul><ul><li>“ My house is very balanced, meaning my mom and dad do the same amount of chores. My dad cleans and cooks and does laundry just as much as my mom does. I would tell the houseguest that my grandma is my neighbor and she will most likely give them a huge hug every single times she sees them. Everyone is very open and loving... no matter who the person is.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My parents obviously would demand respect. Be respective to them. My dad doesn’t care, but my mom HATES swearing. She says &quot;uneducated people swear, and it sounds ugly&quot; So I try not to swear in front of my mom. I don’t have curfew or any real rules really. My parents just want respect and expect me to make right decisions……basically dinners Mon- Thurs and Sunday are important to attend and important to my family.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In terms of explaining things that seem commonplace in my house to a guest, the first thing that comes to mind is my brother and father's relationship. They are both very stubborn and hate to be wrong. This leads to &quot;arguments&quot; that crop up over everything. It may, to an outsider, seem like they don't get along, but our family simply knows it's part of their dynamic. These disagreements usually happen over dinner, and by the time we're all cleaning up or doing the dishes, they've moved on and are buddy-buddy again. </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Communication Patterns <ul><li>Relational cultures are created out of communication, maintained and altered out of communication and dissolved out of communication! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Verbal communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-verbal communication (behaviors) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>FACIAL EXPRESSIONS </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TONE OF VOICE </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>POSTURE </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>EYE CONTACT </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Communication Patterns + Family Meanings <ul><li>Communication patterns provide order and predictability (“normal”) for family members. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Communication Rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Secrets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Communication Networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Stories </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Each of these patterns contribute to your family’s meaning. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Family Communication Rules <ul><li>Communication Rules: “shared understandings of what communication means and what kinds of communication are appropriate in various situations.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relational Rules –unique to a specific interaction situation, and are repeated until they become reflected in patterns of behavior. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: “Ought to” or “Shoulds” of a family </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constitutive Rules – define what counts as what in communication (primarily from family-of-origin). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: what is affection, how to deal with conflict. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. How Are These Rules Learned?
    9. 9. How are These Rules Learned? <ul><li>Not all rules are so clearly stated. </li></ul><ul><li>Range from direct, explicit, conscious relationship agreements to implicit, unspoken, unconscious rules. </li></ul><ul><li>In addition, some rules: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are negotiable. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are influential </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are invisible. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change over time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples? </li></ul>
    10. 10. Importance of Rules <ul><li>Rules help form a family’s images, themes, boundaries and positions on many issues (such as power and gender). </li></ul><ul><li>Rules contribute to a family’s sense of satisfaction. Rules help provide predictable communication patterns that allow a family to carry on its functional interactions smoothly (know what to expect). </li></ul>
    11. 11. What are Metarules? <ul><li>Metarules are “rules about rules.” </li></ul><ul><li>Important to remember…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All family members live with powerful rule-bound patterns, giving little conscious attention to most of them. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>However, these patterns give meaning to each relationship. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As your family map changes (with the birth of a child, death of a family member, marriage), it’s rules and metarules evolve. </li></ul></ul>

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