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Keeping the Lines of Communication Open with Your Family


The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate. – Joseph Priestley

Article written by BridgeMaker contributor Ali Hale. Please visit her at


The first time I was away from my family for more than a ten-day stretch was October 2003, when I started university. As a shy eighteen-year-old, I was very close to my family, and I was nervous about how I’d cope without them. Six years later, my brother’s graduated and has just started his first full-time job. My sister, the “baby” of the family, has started university as well.

In six years, we’ve gone from being a family of two parents and three kids/teens living at home, to being a group of five more-or-less independent adults. I’m not sure any of us have fully caught up. My mother felt she had to break the news to me, a couple of weeks ago, that she’d given away a set of dolls house figures that I’d never even played with. (It’s been almost fifteen years since the Great House Move Scandal, when my brother and I feared she’d given away our toy Lion and then found him in the attic …)

With any change, there are going to be times of tension. I’m a different person to that shy eighteen-year old: my siblings are similarly different. I’ve also found a little more maturity and perspective, and ability to appreciate all that my parents did for me as a kid and teen. And, unlike when we all lived in the same house, ate at the same table and went to the same church, we’re mostly off doing our own thing.

Something I’ve found crucial to maintaining strong relationships with my parents, siblings and grandparents, through these times of change, is keeping the lines of communication open.

How Do They Like To Talk?

I tend to communicate primarily by email and Twitter. However, I know that my family all have different ways that they prefer to stay in touch: none of them use Twitter, for a start.

Different people have different ways of communicating. Just because something feels natural and easy to you, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for everyone from your kid sister to your great-aunt Maud. For some folks, a phone call feels like an intrusion onto their time and space. For others, an email might seem cold.

What Do They Like To Talk About?

As well as how you communicate, keeping up good relationships with family members also means considering what you can or should communicate.

For me, this generally means finding common interests:

I find that in many cases, I have different opinions and views to my family members. I’m learning to live with this: we’ve all grown up with different interests and inclinations, and we all have a different take on life. Sometimes it makes for “robust” discussions around the dinner table when we’re all back home, but in general, we can celebrate our diversity as well as the many things we have in common.

In the sake of family harmony, it’s occasionally necessary to know when not to communicate – there’s nothing wrong with sometimes holding back on sharing your exact opinion!

I’d be interested to hear how others stay in touch with their family members, and it’d be great to have some opinions from those in different times of their life: I’m guessing that the next few decades will bring many shifts in my family’s structure, as my parents look towards retirement, and also as I look towards starting a family of my own…

Ali Hale is a freelance writer from London in the UK, and is currently taking an MA in creative writing. She writes for a number of sites, including her own Aliventures blog which focuses on getting more from life.

Posted by on November 9, 2009.


Categories: Faith & Inspiraton, Inspiration, Love & Relationships, Stories of Change

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Alex Blackwell | Founder and Primary Writer On the brink of divorce several years ago, I needed to make a few changes within myself before my life could change. Knowing creating positive change was necessary, I started down the path of learning how to appreciate exactly what I have. The articles you’ll read here are […]more →