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After a couple of rather heated blogs I think I should redress the balance with something much less controversial. This time I want to talk about families and the way that communication, or lack of it, affects them.

Trouble is ‘talk’ is not the easiest thing for many families as screens seem to get in the way. If it’s not the television it’s smart phones and tablets, stopping the flow of conversation.

There are many opportunities for family chats; about the day just gone or the one ahead, but these need a little planning.

Breakfast these days, even during holiday times, can be frenetic, with parents (and carers) attempting to fulfil the wants (not needs) of their children and having little time over eating. Lunch, unless out with family and friends or in a restaurant, is yet another meal on the run. So we are left with supper or dinner, whichever you choose to call it.

From the days with my family we seemed to have two meals in the evening. Late afternoon the children and I would have a hot meal sitting around the kitchen table and talk about their day. Then their father would be home between 7 and 8pm, so he and I would have dinner but our conversation was very ‘work’ orientated as his day was important to him. In fact they would all be in bed most times when he came home and I think in many circles this is still a familiar pattern. The children’s issues were often not discussed at the time and only brought up at weekends.

So I have no reason to say how wonderful my family was at communication but I was, and always have been, very aware how important it is. Talking and even more importantly, listening to our family as often as we can, breeds confidence in children and knowledge in the parents. There is no point in NOT learning to talk to and understand your children from birth; if you lose touch then, heaven help you when they are teenagers!

In my work over the years with families whose children have been put in ‘boxes’ labelled ADHD or Mild Dyslexia, the problems have been solved in the main, by educating the parents in communication and inclusion. So often a child will feel excluded and unloved though the parents have the best intentions.

If you can, find a regular time for all of your family to get together, even if it’s only one meal shared at the weekend. Encourage a dialogue, ban the gadgets; ask about their school week, their friends and if you see or sense reluctance, make sure you get some time alone with that person very soon, to get to the heart of the issue.

Let your children know that you care enough to put aside some time for them, and not just when it suits you.

Just this, very purposeful act, will cement your relationships with your family and bring dividends when the children grow up and present you with grandchildren. Then happily, the dialogue starts all over again.

Diane Holliday – happy conversations make happy families