No family wants to suffer the social embarrassment of having the cops called on them. As a former police officer, I discussed domestic violence calls in my last blog. Now, here are three of my tips to prevent that from happening in the first place.
#1: Establish family ground rules for communication
- Never speak when someone else is talking.
- Maintain a calm tone, never shout.
- Pay attention to the other person. No computers, cell phones, TVs, video games, etc.
- Indicate that you understand what is being said to you with at least a head nod.
#2: Avoid the abuse of alcohol.
Once someone is intoxicated, effective communication is very unlikely. It seems the majority of violent domestic disturbances involve drug or heavy alcohol use. In the mid-nineties, I did a ride along with my Sister in Law, who was an officer in a smaller town in North Carolina. We only answered one call that night, but it was a domestic violence call. An intoxicated man was yelling at his significant other, and she was shouting obscenities back at him. When we arrived on the scene, he became more belligerent and refused to calm down. Even after being maced and handcuffed, he tried to headbutt and kick his way out of the patrol car. Obviously, all rational attempts at communication were ineffective.
#3: Create opportunities to talk.
Avoid the trend of over-scheduling your family. Fast food drive-in lanes are packed enough with frantic parents ordering junk food while the kids are texting their friends. If you find yourself in that fast food line more often than not, then it’s time to create opportunities to talk. Here are some suggestions:
- Reduce the number of extracurricular activities and prioritize what matters most to your family. If you drive to an event, turn off the radio and cell phones and talk about what each of you did that day.
- Schedule at least 3 stay-at-home meal dates a week. No eating on TV trays in the living room! Memories are made and bonds grow stronger at the dinner table and that time should be valued by each family member. Cell phones, laptops, and homework must not be permitted to invade this place. Create a family ritual around this time with each member playing an important role. In our family, Stephanie cooks, Maddie clears and wipes the table, and I do the dishes.
- When it comes to communication, technology isn’t all bad! Use technology to your advantage by utilizing online calendars like Cozi. Create a family newsletter or website and have each member create an Avatar or bio. Online scrapbooks can be used to record important milestones, family events, and vacations.
- Remember the 70/30 rule: Listen more than twice as much as you speak. Make sure you are not just hearing what is said; instead practice active listening techniques. Active listening means using appropriate verbal feedback and non-verbal body language to show you are engaged and listening intently.
- Create Family Traditions: Make sure you celebrate those birthdays and anniversaries. Plant a garden each spring, plan a popcorn and Redbox movie night, build a bonfire and roast marshmallows. Tucking in my daughters at night and singing lullabies to them as they drift off to sleep was my favorite ritual.
When you have children, this opens up another realm of communication – with your child’s teachers! My next blog will share some tips as both a father and a teacher to get the most out of your child’s education.
Communication is Key
by Mark Griffin, guest blogger