Communication is Key for Your Family - Not Just TV Families

How is your family dealing with difficult life situations? No matter what your family looks like, communication will make it stronger. On CBS-TV's Blue Bloods, this communication centers on Sunday Dinner. How about your family?

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Communication is Key for Your Family - Not Just TV Families
5 Min Read July 6th, 2022

There is little question about the importance of family; however, no family is immune to difficulties, whether they be financial, emotional, or otherwise. But despite the challenges life may throw our way, families can grow stronger if they learn to navigate difficult situations together. And one of the most essential tools for doing so is communication.

Good communication is open and honest. But what that entails is not a one-size-fits-all answer; difficult family situations come in all shapes and sizes. That means you have to be prepared to communicate in various ways depending on the situation.

Flexibility and creativity are key here. So instead of presenting a list of general tips, we walk you through four specific scenarios and how to navigate them as a family. Working out these scenarios together will help you understand when and how to communicate with each other in the darkest of times.

Scenario 1: An Impending Divorce

Despite its relative frequency—around 2.3 in 1,000 marriages end in divorce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—it's still one of the most challenging family situations to deal with, especially for your children.

A growing problem for families is grey divorce. The Pew Research Center says the divorce rate for adults 50 and older in the United States has roughly doubled. It has tripled for those aged 65 and older. 

It may seem like there's no good way to break the news to your children, but there are some things you can do to make it easier, no matter the ages of everyone involved.

Be honest with your children about what's happening. Let them know that it's not their fault and that you both love them very much.

Always appear as a solid unit when discussing the divorce with your children. This means not badmouthing your spouse in front of them or arguing about the divorce. You should also present a united front regarding decisions about custody, visitation, and child support.

For older parents who are divorcing, the adult children should set healthy boundaries to avoid falling into loyalty issues and alliances against one parent. Adult children struggle with the breakup of their family just like younger kids do when their parents break up. 

Older couples often underestimate the impact an upcoming divorce will have on their adult children, thinking that it will not affect them since their children are grown.

The adult children should communicate with both parents and let them know that their personal issues should not interfere with future family celebrations. For example, it would be expected that the divorced parents would attend their grandchildren's birthday celebrations, graduations, weddings, and other important events. These events are not about them but about others in the family. Communicating these concerns in advance will reduce tension in the future.

Scenario 2: A Death in the Family

Let young children know what happened in an age-appropriate way. If they're old enough, you can share details about the person's life and why they meant so much to you—this will help teach your children to cope with grief.

Give your children or grandchildren a chance to grieve in their way. Some may want to talk about their feelings, while others prefer to keep them inside. Respect their wishes and be there for them no matter what.

A loved one's death can be hard to grasp for children, so be prepared to answer their questions honestly and patiently.

Adults often need to be strong for the rest of the family. As caretakers, many try to protect their children from the realities of death by taking on all that emotional weight themselves. But this isn't healthy for anyone.

It's okay to grieve in front of them and let them see that you're struggling. This will help the rest of the family understand that it's normal to feel sad, scared, or angry after a death. It will also show them that it's okay to express those feelings. If you find yourself buckling under the weight of your grief, seek out professional help.

Because of increased lifespans, families are often multi-generational. When an older family member passes, it will impact their children and grandchildren. The closer the family, the better everyone will handle the grief.

Remember that an older person's death should not always be sorrowful. Celebrating their life and remembering the shared experiences the family enjoyed with that person can ease some of the sadness that death can bring to a family.

Scenario 3: Someone in the Family is Battling Addiction

If a family member is struggling with addiction, knowing the best time to step in—and how to do it effectively—can be a delicate balancing act.

Learning all you can about addiction is a good place to start. This will help you understand the disease and how it affects your loved one and prevent you from coming at them from a place of judgment.

Addiction can be experienced by people of all ages. Older adults can suffer addiction just as much as someone younger. No matter their age, when you're ready to have a conversation with your loved one about their addiction, be honest and direct. Let them know you're concerned about their health and well-being and want to help them get better.

Offer your support, but don't enable their addiction, which means being clear about your boundaries. For example, you might say, "I will always be here for you, but I can't continue to bail you out financially." This way, they know that you still love and support them but that there are consequences for their actions.

Scenario 4: A Loved One is Incarcerated

The United States has the highest concentration of prisoners among developed countries: 639 of every 100,000 Americans are behind bars. That equates to a little more than 1.2 million people. That means there's a good chance someone in your family is dealing with this difficult situation.

For prisoners, life on the inside leaves them out of more than just physical activities; it also leaves them out of meaningful conversations. They may feel disconnected from the outside world, making reentry into society more difficult.

Like the rest of the country, the U.S. prison population is aging. According to a report prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the percentage of state and federal prisoners aged 55 or older is projected to grow to more than 30% by 2030. 

Imagine an older family member being released into society after decades in prison as an older man or woman. This is why it's important to continue constant communication with an incarcerated family member

Try to maintain a positive relationship with your incarcerated loved one, no matter how tough it may be. Write them letters, send them cards, and visit them whenever possible. They'll need your support when they're eventually released back into the world.

If you have children, help them understand that their loved one made a mistake but that they're still family who loves them very much. If you have difficulty discussing the situation with your children or grandchildren, look for resources that can help, such as support groups or counseling services.

Family Communication - Not Just a TV Thing

Not every family can be like the Reagan family on TV's Blue Bloods. The CBS-TV show highlights the importance of family and the balance between personal and professional lives. Their famous Sunday dinners with the entire family have made many people envious of this fictional family.

A scene from the show Blue Bloods.

Blue Bloods is one of CBS’s longest running and most popular TV shows, is returning for a 13th season in 2022-23

Communication has been an essential part of the Reagan family. While that family is fictional, the significance of honest and open communication can benefit any family. 

Even the happiest, most contented families go through difficult times. It's a natural part of life. Most important is how you face these challenges together as a unit.

No matter how dark things may seem, facing such problems alone can make them seem insurmountable. But by coming together and communicating openly and honestly, you can get through anything as a family—and come out the other side stronger and closer than ever before.

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About the Author

Sophia Young became a writer be able to tell stories and paint the world through her words. She writes on a variety of topics that interest her and her readers. Contact her at - sophguestwriter@gmail.com

LTC News Contributor Sophia Young

Sophia Young

Contributor since September 16th, 2021

Editor's Note

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If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

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- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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Email your story idea or article: newsroom@ltcnews.com - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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