Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents practice good communication in their homes. Communication includes every thought, feeling, act, or desire that between parents and children whether it is done verbally or non-verbally. Our words and our actions communicate who we are, how we feel about the people around us, and the person that we have become. Even when we refuse to talk, we are sending a message. However, our message may or may not be understood accurately. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “Our expressions, our voice tones, our movements, our thoughts betray us.”
Poor communication is not only a symptom of family problems, but it is also a cause of problems in a family. When parents and/or children are angry and frustrated, they are less willing to listen but more inclined to say hurtful things. Most of us have experienced someone saying something hurtful to us, and most people respond to hurtful words with more hurtful words and/or behaviors. Sometimes there is difficulty developing good communication because there is often a need to change our attitude about life, self, and others.
The good thing about life is that it is always possible to change if we have a strong enough desire to do so. We can break communication cycles that are destructive by changing the way that we listen and respond to other people. It is possible for one person with a better attitude to change the attitudes of other people.
Jesus Christ taught about the dangers of destructive communication when He said, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). He also taught, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). Our thoughts, attitudes, and desires determine how we communicate with members of our families.
Jesus Christ is our example in all things, and this includes communication. The Savior said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He provided the supreme example in how we should act and how we should communicate with each other. When we communicate in a Christlike manner, we can become better parents, and our children will be more willing to listen to us and communicate with us. The following scriptures indicate the thoughts, attitudes, and desires of Jesus Christ because He was:
· Slow to condemn, as with the woman taken in adultery (see John 8:3-11).
· Forgiving, as when He sought the Father’s forgiveness for the crucifiers (see Luke 23:33-34).
· Compassionate, as when He wept with Mary and Martha over Lazarus’s death (see John 11:33-36).
· Considerate of His family, as when He made provisions for His mother while He was on the cross (see John 19:25-27).
· Willing to return good for evil, as when He healed the ear of one of His captors (see Luke 22:50-51).
· Loving of children, as shown by His blessing them (see Matthew 19:14-15; 3 Nephi 17:21-24).
· Appreciation, as when He praised the woman who anointed Him with oil (see Luke 7:44-48).
· Eager to serve, as when He washed His disciples’ feet, teaching them to serve others (see John 13:4-17).
· Willing to sacrifice, as shown by His atoning for the sins of the world (see Matthew 26:35-45).
Effective communication is a natural outcome as men and women develop Christlike attributes of faith, hope, charity, love, an eye single to the glory of God, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, humility, and diligence (see D&C 4:5-6). President David O. McKay taught, “No man can sincerely resolve to apply to his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his own nature. The phrase, ‘born again,’ has a deeper significance than many people attach to it.”As parents draw closer to Christ and become more like Him, we can overcome ineffective and harmful communication practices. We can respond better to unruly and disrespectful behavior as we clear out the negative communication practices. By improving our communication habits, we can strengthen our families as w