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Family Communication Patterns and Difficult Family Conversations

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Abstract:

Difficult conversations among family members can impact the health and structure of familial relationships. The reported study investigated potential antecedents and outcomes of difficult family conversations. Perceived consequences of, reasons behind, responses to, and results of difficult conversations were considered, and the family communication patterns (FCP) framework guided the examination. Although the majority of respondents feared negative consequences prior to conversations, most reported positive results. The type of response received from conversational partners was associated with the eventual result. Counter to predictions, data analysis found no relationships among the family communication styles proposed by FCP and the antecedents and outcomes of difficult family conversations. These results suggest that the need for engaging in difficult conversations may outweigh family communicative norms and potential family consequences. Practical implications of the findings, including how therapists or counselors might communicate the benefits of discussing difficult topics generally and of avoiding negative reactions during such conversations, are considered.

Keywords: Difficult Conversations; Family Communication Patterns; Resilience

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2013.781659

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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