Family Communication KIMBERLY SAMPSON “Our family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth, and every union the circle grows . Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.” Our Family Motto
What Makes A Family? Gay Couples? Singletons Choosing To Parent Alone? Grandparents RaisingChildren? Step Families or Bonus Families? Foster Families? Traditional Families?Committed Partnerships? Who cares? What is important is that we find a place where we are loved, nurtured, and accepted just as we are. Communities are only as strong as the health of the individual family units.
Sometimes We Are Blessed To Find Friends Who Become Family IRENA SENDLER During World War II, Irena smuggled 2, 500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto’s. This remarkable woman is family to many.
Meeting my new “niece”. My childhood bestfriends, fell in love, got married, and had ababy. Their daughter is my “niece”.
Adoption MY COUSIN JEREMY JOINED OUR FAMILY AT SIX MONTHSOLD. IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES AND THE WORST DAYS FOR HIS BIOLOGICAL MOTHER. HIS PARENTS CHOSE TO HAVE AN OPEN ADOPTION SO THAT FROM AN EARLY AGE, HE COULD KNOW THAT HE WAS CHOSEN, WANTED, ANDLOVED. TO ENSURE A STRONG SENSE OF IDENTITY, HIS ADOPTIVE PARENTS WANTEDHIM TO KNOW HIS BIOLOGICAL FAMILY. HE MAY SEE HIS BIOLOGICAL FAMILYWHENEVER HE WISHES AND TO DATE HAS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HER.
Surrogates: Another type of family AFTER TEN YEARS OF UNSUCCESSFUL FERTILITY TREATMENTS, MISCARRIAGES’, AND OVER $20,000.00 IN EXPENSES TRYING TO HAVE A CHILD, A LESBIAN COUPLE WHO WERE GOOD FRIENDS OF CLOSE FRIENDS OF OUR FAMILY, CAME FORWARD ASKING IF THEY COULD BE ENTRUSTED TO CARE FOR THE COUPLES LAST EMBRYO. THE RESULT OF THIS SELFLESS OFFER OF LOVE? BABY MAX! THIS WONDERFUL & LOVING LESBIAN COUPLE, ALONG WITH THEIR THREE CHILDREN, ARE FAMILY TO MAX AND HIS PARENTS!
MentorsMy parents recognizedthat as much as theywould have liked to, thatfor us to grow into thepeople we were meantto be, they would haveto give us the space todevelop closerelationships with otheradults. I am glad toknow that my parentswere secure enough asindividuals to not bethreatened by this.Instead , they embracedthe idea of us beingsurrounded by a troop ofstrong, dynamic, andintelligent people. I cancount parents of ex-boyfriends, teachers,community leaders,aunts, uncles and friendsparents as mentors.
The children we mentor and love.It truly does take a village…
My family is classified as a two parent,biological family.On the “Flexibility Continuum” we are considered “flexible” whileon the “Cohesion Continuum”, “Connected”. My parents met and were engaged withintwo weeks. They will celebrate thirty five years Strong families don’t just happen! together this November.
Regardless of the form, being a family takes a spirit of commitment
The Challenge of the Commitment Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward Las Vegas, Nevada; January 29, 1958 We have come here today in the presence of God to join in holy matrimony Paul and Joanne. Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the Art of Marriage: The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say I love you at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It isspeaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivatingflexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding room for the things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.Paul, will you have Joanne to be your lawful wedded wife? Will you love her, comfort her, keep her in sickness and in health and forsaking all others, be faithful to her so long as you both shall live? Joanne, will you have Paul to be your lawful wedded husband? Will you love him, comfort him, keep him in sickness and in health and forsaking all others, be faithful to him so long as you both shall live? This ring I give in token and pledge as a sign of my love and devotion, with this ring I thee wed.
Commitment means you will get up every morning; say and act out the phrase, “I will love you even still.”It is recognizing that we allhave our fatal flaws and no one is perfect.
Because of this… Choose Your Partner Well And be the partner you would like to have.
Mom’s Life Lessons On Dating “Dating is just gathering data for the most important decision of your life.” “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime-not every one is meant to stay.” “You don’t “need” a man. You “want” a man. Know the difference. Don’t expect a partner to take care of you. A partner does not “complete” you. Be secure on your own. “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.” “Believe people when they show you who they are. You can’t change someone.” “Guard your heart and your body. No one else will do it for you.” “I’d rather you be happy and single then married to the wrong person and miserable. Wait for the best choice. Don’t settle.” “Who you marry will determine 90% of your happiness or misery. Choose well! Look for character, integrity, work ethic, and a good heart. Believe someone when they show you who they are.” “A relationship is only as healthy as it’s weakest partner. Know that it takes two healthy people to make an equal, healthy partnership. “
Family Narrative IN OUR FAMILY WE PRIDE OURSELVES ON HAVING A STRONG WORK ETHIC, HAVINGINNER FORTITUDE, A RESILIENT SPIRIT, AND FUN. I WOULD SAY THAT ARE EXTERNALBOUNDARY MANAGEMENT CAN BE DESCRIBEDAS THE “EXPLAINING” TYPE. OUR INTERNAL BOUNDARY MANAGEMENT IS DESCRIBED ASDISCUSSING, NARRATING, AND RITUALIZING.
Roles In Families ROLE FUNCTIONS HELP US TO DETERMINE WHO WILL PROVIDE BASIC RESOURCES, NURTURANCE, EMOTIONAL SUPPORT, HELP CLARIFY INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT, AND ASSIST IN FAMILY MANAGEMENT. IN ADDITION, ROLES MODEL GENDER IDENTIFICATION FOR CHILDREN AND PROVIDE ADULT SEXUAL FULFILLMENT. ROLES ARE OFTEN FLUID AND CHANGE OVER TIME.
I find that there istypically one in thefamily who is theepicenter. While itdoesn’t have to be themother, it’s myexperience that it isoften the maternalfigure. This person has away about them, aninsight, and a bond withthe other members of afamily. This person seesto it that they are theunifiers, the soft place tofall, and theencouragers. Thesepeople are often thepeople who plan thegatherings, workthrough conflict, andare the glue that holds The role of nurtures…the family together.
Remember…mom’s aren’t the only ones who should be labeled a “nurturer”.
In my family, I am the oldestchild. I am the responsibleone, the planner, the type A-go getter. I am intuitive andpick up on underlying issuesquickly. I look at the bigpicture and am a level head.I am the worrier and calleverything like I see it. I havehigh expectations of myselfand others. I tend to push thefamily forward byencouraging others to be thebest version of themselves. Iam the child my parents callon for details like estateplanning, doctorsappointments, and travelarrangements. I am a blendof both of my parents. Thosethat know me best know thatwhile I don’t wear my hearton my sleeve, I have a verysoft heart, am verycompassionate, amsurprisingly sensitive. I am verygenerous and want to beable to give them the world.
DadMy father is the grease in ourfamilies wheels. In the movie,“The Notebook”, there is aquote that states, “I am noone special. Just a commonman with common thoughts.There are no monumentsdedicated to me and myname will soon be forgotten.But in one respect I havesucceeded as gloriously asanyone who ever lived. Iveloved another with all myheart and soul and for methat has always beenenough.” That is my dad.He takes great pride inhaving provided for hisfamily, in loving my motherfor over 34 years, and for justgenuinely being a good soul.He has a heart of gold andone wing in the fire. He workshard for his family and takeson a bulk of the dailyresponsibilities so that we canpursue our dreams.
As a child, mom stayed homewith us. She took the role ofbeing a devoted mother veryseriously and dedicated all ofher time into being a truehomemaker. She created ahome that was a haven. Sheresearched our personalitytypes, our learning styles, andfigured out what made us tickeven before we knewourselves. She was nurturing,loving, and a natural parent.She is fiercely protective. Sheis the peace maker and oftenthe one that discriminatesinformation to all members ofthe family. She is ourcornerstone, our rock, andsafe place to fall.As we got older, she becamea teacher, opened her ownbusiness, went back tocollege, and became a staterepresentative. Today, she ispursuing her masters degree.She’s a great role model onhow to be a great parent. My beautiful mother Sonya.
My brother is the stero-typicalyounger sibling. He is thefunny one and lights up aroom with his smile andpositive energy. He is our joy!Life would be pretty boringwith out him. He can makeany one feel at ease and is areminder to not take life tooseriously. He is one of mybiggest cheerleaders. He’snot just my brother, he’s mybest friend. Historically, he willadmit that he has been a littleirresponsible. He gave myparents a run for their moneyand all their gray hair (I wastoo much of a goodie twoshoes-LOL), but he hasmatured into a man I amincredibly proud of. Today heis a Maine Maritime graduatewho has his 200 Ton Captainslicense. To see him graduatebrought tears to my eyes. My brother Corey.
We can only wish thatour siblings choosespouses we love. Newto our family, I am juststarting to get to knowEmily in a deeplypersonal way, but I amconfident that she willbe a wonderful additionto what I consider areally great family. As astrong, smart, andindependent woman,she holds her mastersdegree, is creative, fun,and a good soul. Sheseems to be the yin tomy brothers yang. Sheanchors, but does notimpede my brothersfree spirit and zest forlife. They truly help to My future sister-in-law Emily.enhance each otherslives. I could not ask formore.
While siblings may have differences,it’s important to keep focused on the similarities and the ties that bind…
In-lawsWhen creating a newfamily, you have tounderstand your partnersfamily background.When you get married-you are marrying thefamily too! In a dreamworld, we all secretlyhope that we don’t pullthe short straw and endup with the crazy in-laws,controlling mother in-law,or otherwise have aparasite-host relationshipwith extended familymembers. You know thetype, enmeshed andsucking the life out ofeach other! I’m relievedto say, I think my brotherhas scored! It’s great tosee that both sets of Corey and his future in-laws.parents are respectingstrong boundaries so thatthe two can form thereown family dynamics. Ihope that I am as lucky!
Levels of Family Communication CHARACTERISTIC POOR GOOD VERY GOOD APPEAR TO LISTEN, BUT GIVE FEEDBACK, INDICATING LISTENING SKILLS POOR LISTENING SKILLS FEEDBACK IS LIMITED GOOD LISTENING SKILLS SPEAK FOR SELF MORE THAN SPEAK MAINLY FOR SELF SPEAKING SKILLS OFTEN SPEAK FOR OTHERS FOR OTHERS RATHER THAN FOR OTHERS. MODERATE SHARING OF SELF-DISCLOSURE LOW SHARING OF FEELINGS HIGH SHARING OF FEELINGS FEELINGS CLARITY INCONSISTENT MESSAGES CLEAR MESSAGES VERY CLEAR MESSAGES STAYING ON TOPIC SELDOM STAY ON TOPIC OFTEN STAY ON TOPIC MAINLY STAY ON TOPICRESPECT AND REGARD LOW TO MODERATE MODERATE TO HIGH HIGH
An Evaluation of My Families Communication Styles Dad’s listening skills are poor to good (likely due to poor hearing and a medical condition). His speaking skills are good. He speaks for himself more than others. His level of self-disclosure is poor, his clarity is poor, he rarely stays on topic, but he has a very high respect and regard for others. Mom has very good listening skills and often gives feedback. She speaks for her self more than others except when speaking on behalf of my father. She has a high level of self-disclosure with me, but a slightly lower level with my brother. I think this is because I am the daughter. She is always very clear in her message and always stays on topic. She has a very high respect for others opinions.
Family Communication Continued… My brothers listening skills are good to very good. His speaking skills are good, but he often speaks for my dad when talking to me. He has a good level of self-disclosure, but if he is going to hide something, it’s from me (I will be the harshest critic). He is very clear and often stays on topic. He has a high respect and regard for others viewpoints. I have good listening skills and very good speaking skills. Of the four of us, I have the lowest level of self-disclosure. I tend to not want to “bother” anyone else. I am very clear in message and often stay on topic. I have a good level of respect and regard for others.
Power In The Family“Creation of woman from the rib of man; She was not made of his head to top him: nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be equal with him; under his arm, to be protected; and near his heart to be beloved.” –unknown In our family, power is fluid. It’s very situational and balanced. For day to day management, dad holds the power. As he gets home first, he makes dinner and likes to do the household chores. For life decisions, discipline, and mood management, mom totally rules the roost. I have a strong heritage of very strong, dynamic women in my life. On both sides of the family, there is a strong matriarch in place. There is some truth to the statement, “the man is the head of the house, but the woman is the neck and she can turn it any way she wants.”
Respect other people’sperspective… Think about what you are doing to negatively contribute to family dynamics. We must learn to self regulate.
The picture above is of my dad, my uncle, my cousin, and myself. My paternal extended family is very dysfunctional and structured. Because the home they grew up in was not one of peace, the men above, while incredibly loving and good people-struggled in raisingdaughters. They both found it much easier to raise boys. Everyone of their brothers and sisters has been left struggling to deal with how to re-construct a healthy family and relationships.I’m proud to say that with my mom’s help, I think my parents have done that. Ultimately, youcan’t give what you don’t have. Even today, my dad communicates with me via my mother and by doing gestures like filling up my gas tank and checking my oil. That is his love language. I don’t doubt his love, but communication is a challenge for him.
Watch your words. Usethem wisely. They willhave a profoundeffect.“Fine eloquence doesnot consist in saying allthat can be said, butall that should be.”-author unknown
Peace will be in this house… I remember a defining moment in our family. I was thirteen and my father and I were getting into it. It was one of the biggest arguments I have ever had with anyone. My mother, recognizing my fathers family history of poor communication and yelling, did a rare thing. She stepped in. She told me to get into the car. That is all she said. Despite attempts from both of us, she didn’t say anything to either of us for over twenty four hours! She and I left, went to a hotel and stayed there for the night. The next day, she sat my father and I in the living room and said, “This WILL BE a house of peace.” We both knew she meant business. Mom had a look. “THE look.” “The look” could stop a man in his tracks. She had “the look” that day. I can honestly say, I did not grow up in a house of screaming, yelling, sarcasm, rudeness (really just unprocessed grief), or belittling each other. From that moment on, our house was and is a house of peace. Since that moment, Dad and I have had more than our far share of differences, but it was a cognitive decision that prevented us from repeating his families poor communication pattern. In that moment, we broke the cycle. Even today, if we have a disagreement, it’s discussed via letters (mom & I often do that) or sitting down to have a respectful discussion.
The Power of Forgiveness Healthy families require us to accept that we must learn to forgive. This is different than forgetting and enabling unhealthy behavior. We must accept that good people do bad things. Holding bitterness only hurts us.
Family Rituals My family is very non-tradition in the sense that we don’t necessarily make a big deal out of holidays. (we have gone many years without a tree…) We are not rigid at all. Part of this is because my brother is a merchant marine. He has a very non-traditional work schedule and is often off sailing the world. As such, we create our own routines. For us, the day after he gets home we will go out to eat. Often times, when he’s home, he and I will both stay at my parents, wait until everyone goes to bed and stay up having a bottle of wine catching up. We don’t get a lot of one on one time anymore so I value those moments. Growing up, we always went to church on Sundays. That was a big ritual.
Intimacy & Self DisclosureClearly, a requirement for healthy marriages.
Relationship Currencies Positive Verbal Statements…those “I love you” statements matter. Self Disclosure. Be Authentic with those you love. Listening…truly listening without interrupting. Nonverbal Communication…Do your eyes light up when a child enters the room? They should. They deserve that. Touch…not talking about offensive PDA, for me this was often demonstrated with my grandmother playing with my hair when we were in church. Sexuality: Enjoy it in a healthy way. Aggression: How many times do we see boys wrestling with dads? Gifts & Money: I LOVE to spoil my family, but understand that being a “Disney Dad” doesn’t substitute parenting. Food: Think Italian Grammies who love to feed! Favors: Husbands cleaning cars, wives rubbing a husbands feet Service: Taking a loved one to a doctors appointment Staying in touch: Notes from loved ones. Time together: vacations, trips, doing things together Access Rights: “borrowing” things from each other.
And in the process, it’s ok if you look a little foolish.
Live In Day Tight Compartments Let Go Of The Past, Live In The Moment
What’s important is that you… Always tell the truth Have integrity look for the good Do unto others SMILE Are kind Are generous And avoid having a critical spirit
Embrace a love ofadventure and don’t let fear hold you back.
Allow the family to be the springboard to discovering your best self, not the chains that bind you from achieving who you were meant to be.There is not a lot of dialectical tension between us. Instead we are very supportive of each others individuality and personal goals.
Realize that education is important and never settle for mediocrity. Push yourself and doYOUR unique best. Don’t be afraid of failure.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Don’t be a tourist in other peoples pain.Humanitarian Relief Missions . Community Leadership. Political Activism. Volunteering at the Food Bank . Toys for Tots Bike Ride . Being good neighbors.
Be the kind of person our dogs think we are. Seriously, I’m not kidding…aim to be that person.
Wag more, bark less, and remember no one wants to hear whining.
Whatever you do…don’t be a chicken! Remember where your food comes from.Be a good steward of the environment & help do the chores.(we have a small organic garden and six organic chickens.)
Faith We have a strong religious tradition and believe in having a deep, personal faith in Jesus Christ. My grandfather was a Pentecostal Minister, and my mom a Christian school teacher, but we also are actively involved in left leaning politics. We do not subscribe to the belief that hatred is a family value and believe in the separation of church and state. We recognize that the Bible has less than five scriptures on abortion and homosexuality (often pulled out of context) and over two hundred fifty on watching what you say. We choose to focus on that message and stay clear of trying to play the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. We believe in equality because after living a double life of forty years, it was discovered that my grandfather, the Pentecostal minister is gay. We know the dangers that come with secrets and not living an authentic life. We value accepting people just as they are and believe in the quote, “To thine own self be true.” Subsequently, we value openness. No lies, no secrets, and no hidden truths.
No matter howfar you roamand no matterwhere the windtakesyou…know youcan alwayscome home. The hot-air balloons from the Great Falls Balloon Festival land in our backyard every year.
Charting a new course and finding a new normal after aheartbreak, family crisis, tragedy, or traumatic event is difficult…
“Resiliency is animportant factor inliving. The winds of lifemay bend us, but if wehave resilience ofspirit, they cannotbreak us. Tocourageouslystraighten again afterour heads have beenbowed by defeat,disappointment andsuffering is thesupreme test ofcharacter.”-Unknown Be anchored to something strong, steady, and stable. Be prepared for the inevitable storms in life.
Part of being in a family is realizing that there will always be a conflict, challenge, or obstacle in the way, but that together anything is possible.Collectively andIndividually, themembers mustvalue commitment.
It may not be easy… In fact, you may have to try many times and in many different ways. You may even fail, get hurt, and suffer a bruised ego once or twice.
But eventually, with persistence, love, and respect, you find the common ground, getover the challenge, and realize that you value the relationship more than the ego.
It’s aboutthinking ofothers as highlyas you think ofyourself… Even when one of us is being an A**hole. We know we areloved. Our home is asafe place to fall. Wemay not like the blunt evaluation we may receive, but in the end-it’s iron sharpening iron and Don’t enable poor choices, but be discipline with love. there for one another when the chips are down.
And because we vow for better or worse, but never for granite.
In my family, there isnot a strong multi-generational or familyof origin dynamic. Mygrandmother whom Iwas closest to, passedaway nearly ten yearsago. My grandfatherpictured here hassevere AlzheimersDisease. And most importantly because in the end, all that matters are the memories…