Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review--Building Family Communication

      Building Family Communication (Family Matters) by J. Denis Mercier and Waln K. Brown for the William Gladden Foundation is a quick read. It is a small book of approximately 45 pages which gives a succinct overview as to why communication is such an important tool for families--and the best way to begin strengthening your family. As they state in their forward, “Despite all its power and strength, the family unit remains one of the most vulnerable human connections….Building family communication is the classic ‘win/win’ situation: every member of the family is more secure with one another and ready to deal with the world outside.” The book answers such questions as “How Does A Family Build Communication?” in short, one or two paragraph responses that give a quick overview and perhaps a few examples. The main focus of the book is on positive and negative verbal and nonverbal messages and how they can affect all the members of a family, either strengthening or destroying family relationships and unity.

       Although this book discusses communication between two parents as well, it does not address the issue of the single parent family or the “skipped generation” family (children raised by grandparents) or other "family groups", although much of the advice here could certainly be adapted to those family situations.
       This book works best as an overview to explain why families should focus on communication in order to function well. Quick examples of positive and negative verbal and nonverbal messages, how they are sent, and how they affect others work well as a brief beginning towards communication with family members. There is also a brief explanation as to why family members may miscommunicate and how to communicate positive messages better. Lastly, a list of possible activities or events that may allow family members to practice communicating positive messages and several resources as to where families can get more information are both helpful. As a whole, the book is valuable; as Mercier and Brown put it, “Individuals who learn to communicate well at home can apply this precious skill to almost any situation in life.”

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