Academic journal article Family Relations

An Examination of Family Communication within the Core and Balance Model of Family Leisure Functioning

Academic journal article Family Relations

An Examination of Family Communication within the Core and Balance Model of Family Leisure Functioning

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine family communication within the core and balance model of family leisure functioning. The study was conducted from a youth perspective of family leisure and family functioning. The sample consisted of youth (N = 95) aged 11 - 17 from 25 different states in the United States. Path analyses indicated that family communication mediated a positive relationship between family leisure variables and family functioning variables. Implications and recommendations are discussed. The addition of communication in the Core and Balance Model is recommended.

Key Words: core and balance family leisure, Circumplex Model, family communication, family leisure.

A widely accepted definition of family func- tioning is informed by The Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Functioning. According to this family systems framework, healthy fam- ily functioning is characterized by balanced lev- els of cohesion and flexibility (Olson, 2000). Cohesion reflects the emotional bonding a fam- ily shares, and flexibility is the ability to cope with change. Communication, a third dimension of the model, is theorized to facilitate changes in cohesion and flexibility, though it is not utilized by Olson to determine family functioning. Galvin and Brommel (1982) defined communication as "a symbolic, transactional process, or the process of creating and sharing meanings" (p. 6). Moreover, Olson, Russell, and Sprenkle (1983) defined positive communication as sending clear and congruent messages, expressing empathy, providing supportive comments, and demonstrating effective problem-solving skills. Further, according to Olson and Gorall (2003), a family that has positive family communication will be better able to alter their cohesion and flexibility to meet developmental and situational demands that arise, whereas family systems with poor communication tend to have lower functioning in regard to cohesion and flexibility.

Positive family communication skills have also been found to result in an array of positive family outcomes such as less serious forms and lower rates of delinquency in adolescents (Clark & Shields, 1997), the development of conflict resolution (Koerner & Fitzpatrick, 1997), children's resiliency to adverse environmental influences (Fitzpatrick & Koerner, 1996), and the enactment of family rituals (Baxter & Clark, 1996). Furthermore, positive family communication skills have been found to mitigate the potential negative effects of television on children (Krcmar, 1998). On the other hand, poor family communication skills have been found to result in a number of concerns for individuals, including shyness (Huang, 1999), communication apprehension (Elwood & Schrader, 1998; Hsu, 1998), unwillingness to communicate (Avtgis, 2000), the development of reticence (KeUy et al., 2002), and delinquent behavior in adolescents (Clark & Shields).

Building on the work of Olson, Portner, and Bell (1982) Zabriskie and McCormick (2001) developed the core and balance model of family leisure functioning in order to explain the relationship between family leisure involvement and family functioning. The core and balance model of family leisure functioning is grounded in systems theory and informed by the circumplex model emphasis on families' need for stability and change and negotiating separateness versus togetherness. Research using the core and balance model has consistently found a positive relationship between family leisure involvement and family functioning (Christensen, 2004; Freeman & Zabriskie, 2003; Smith, Taylor, Hill, & Zabriskie, 2004; Zabriskie & McCormick, 2001). These studies determined that core and balance family leisure activity patterns were related differently to critical aspects of family functioning (i.e., cohesion and flexibility). Although family communication is a part of the circumplex model, it has not been specifically studied in the context of the core and balance model. …

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