Family problems? Open communication key to solving them

solving family problem

| National Cancer Institute via Unsplash

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Open communication is essential in the family.

This was the advice of a  psychometrician from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) when asked how the family should handle problems that may lead to bigger issues later on.

According to DOH-7’s Health Officer 2 of the National Mental Health Program and Registered Psychometrician, Jan Vinhery Taboada, “open communication” may not be practiced in some households, especially in the past.

“Sa una man gud, kung sultiahan kas’ imohang parents is mao na gyud na siya ang final. What our elders do is maminaw ra gyud sila kung unsa’y isulti sa ilang nakakatanda,” Taboada said.

(Before, if your parents tell you to do something, it’s final. What our elders do is they just listen to what people older than them tell them.)

In the present time, the psychometrician suggested that “open communication” between parents and children must be a priority.

READ MORE: A daughter’s broken family story: A journey of love, forgiveness

“Dili lang sa part sa parents only, nga sige lang sila’g istorya sa ilang anak without also listening to them,” she said.

(It’s not only in the part of the parents, where they only tell their kids what to do without listening to them.)

Taboada added that establishing open communication would be the first step in addressing conflict or any misunderstanding between the family before it might lead to tragedy.

Parenting styles

However, she noted that open communication could be complex for some families because it would always depend on the “parenting style” the parents would inculcate in their children.

Taboada said that “in psychology and also in different studies,” there are four parenting styles. These parenting styles are permissive, neglectful, authoritarian, and authoritative.

Among the four, Taboada said that the ideal was the authoritative parenting style, where parents would not give their complete control over their children’s lives, but would be there to guide them with flexibility and understanding.

“If you are a parent displaying authoritative style, you have the ability to set a clear route and expectations for your child. Also, part of being authoritative is communicating frequently with your child,” Taboada said.

solving family problem

A photo of Jan Vinhery Taboada, RPm, during a vritual interview with CDN Digital

By example

Moreover, the psychometrician added that children could learn how to communicate by watching or observing their parents.

If the child grows up in a household without proper or effective communication between their parents, it may influence them as they grow up.

If this happens, the child cannot communicate properly with their parents when they have a problem.

“If makita sa bata nga his or her parents communicate effectively, dako kaayo’g chances nga ang bata magkat-on sad kay good communication skills can benefit children,” Taboada said.

(If the kid sees his or her parents communicate effectively, there’s a huge chance that the kid will learn because good communication skills can benefit children.)

She added that the children could also form ideas and different beliefs about themselves based on how their parents would communicate with them.

READ MORE: A family’s love felt through a wedding halfway across the globe

Moreover, Taboada said that it would also be essential for children to decipher the reminders or lessons of the parents for their good.

As for the parents, if they communicate with their children “properly” and do not nag immediately, it would picture “respect” for the children’s understanding.

“Later on, when they grow older, they will learn and identify that that lesson was very valuable in their growth,” Taboada added.

‘Listen with a closed mouth’

Furthermore, Taboada said that open communication would also mean that parents would be willing to humble themselves when their children would be right.

“Open communication is when you are willing to listen and accept other people’s ideas and beliefs… It’s very important to the parents when they discuss problems with their children, they must listen with a closed mouth,” she said.

She added that to avoid making the situation worse when their children would explain themselves, the parents must also listen and would let them speak.

This can “offer encouragement” to the children and make them feel heard.

“Interruptions often break the speaker’s train of thought…She added that listening with a closed mouth is very important for open communication between the parent and child,” she added.

Moreover, she said that given the “generational gap” between parents and children, it would also be time to accept that when the child would reason out, it would not mean they would be talking back to the parent.

“Sometimes, they are just explaining their side and this has a deeper meaning,” Taboada said.

Who must be humble: the parent or the child?

In Cebuano, the question that is oftentimes asked is this: “Kinsa’y dapat magpaubos, ang ginikanan o ang anak?”

(Who must be the one to be humble: the parent or the child?)

To Taboada, this will always depend on the situation.

She said that it would not be good that parents would be the ones who would always humble themselves; the same would go for the children.

“It all boils down again to open communication kay depende pud na kung unsa’y situation or unsa’y nahitabo (because it would depend on what the situation will be or what will happen). Conflicts between the parent and child kay (because it’s) normal sa (in) family life,” she said.

Given that conflicts in the family are “normal,” she said, “it doesn’t have to be disruptive or damaging to the family.”

She added that “compromise” between the parent and the child would also be significant.

“Aside from listening to your child’s perspective, it’s also very important to embrace you will have something to agree on or have negotiation when dealing with that conflict,” Taboada said.

The child and the parent must also help find a solution that works for them rather than trying to win.

Safe space for conversation

On top of everything, Taboada noted that the children must listen to their parents’ reminders. She also hopes that the children should not take the reminders negatively.

This leads to creating a “safe space for conversation.”

If the child does not listen to the parents’ reminders, having a safe space for conversation is also a good gesture.

“Through that, ang parent ug ang bata can talk about disagreements and problems nga unsa’y nahitabo without fear of judgment or criticism from both sides,” she said.

(Through that, the parent and the kid can talk about disagreements and problems like what happened without fear of judgment or criticism from both sides.)

She added that this could simply be done by asking the child, “How are you?” or making an effort to be present or available when the child was going through something.

“By creating a safe space for conversation, you can help your child feel to be more comfortable and willing to share their thoughts and feelings, which will make it easier to address if there is a conflict,” Taboada added.

In a fast-paced environment, Taboada said that DOH has been reminding people not to forget to ask friends, colleagues, and family how they were feeling.

READ: Mental health woes: DOH-7 urges public to call hotlines when they need help

Just a simple “How are you?” could significantly impact someone.

Taboada said that such a question could comfort people just by simply asking.

Easing the burden

As children reach the teenage years until the early 20s, some tend to keep their problems within themselves, which is also impacted by the parenting style they grew up with, according to the psychometrician.

Some are more open with their friends or peers than their parents.

Taboada said this would be because the children would find safe spaces in their friends, which might also be their coping mechanisms.

She said this was why some young ones would be more comfortable sharing their problems with their friends than with their family.

In the end, Taboada said it would be important to belong to the “right group of friends” because being in the right group of friends could positively influence young ones.

TAGS: family, life, relationship
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