Few if any relationships are more important, salient, long lasting, and central to people's well-being than their family relationships. These include spouses, parents, children, and siblings, to name but a few. Although these relationships are often defined by genes and institutionalized ceremonies such as marriage, they are built, maintained, and destroyed by communication.
Family Communication carefully examines state-of-the-art research and theories of family communication and family relationships. In addition to presenting cutting-edge research, we focus as well on classic theories and research findings that have influenced and revolutionized the way scholars conceptualize family interaction. This book was written to fulfill the need for a text that presented a thorough and up-to-date presentation of scientific research in family communication for teachers and students of family communication as well as for professionals who work with families. Toward that end, we critically selected and evaluated research and translated that knowledge into a language that is understandable to abroad range of readers. Undergraduate readers should find the information easy to understand, whereas advanced readers, such as graduate students and professionals, will also find it a useful reference to classic and contemporary research on family communication and relationships.
Family Communication is divided into four main sections. Part I, “Introducing Family Communication and Basic Family Processes, ” introduces readers to fundamental issues in the study of family communication. These include, for example, questions of how “family” is defined, dominant theories in family science, and basic family communication processes, such as conflict, intimacy, decision making, power, roles, and rules. Part II, “Communication in Family Subsystems, ” explores what is known about communication in different types of families or family relationships. Consequently, this section contains chapters on topics such as courtship and mate selection, marriage, parent-child, sibling, and grandparent-grandchild relationships. Parts III and IV examine more problematic issues in family communication. Our experience with teaching family communication suggests that people are often interested in the topic, not to learn why their family is so happy and content but to gain a better understanding of some problematic issues in their family. Part III therefore covers “Communication During Family Stress. ” In this section, we look at theoretical models of how families react to and handle stress, normative and nonnormative family stressors, divorce, remarriage, and the creation of stepfamilies. Throughout this section, we note where “stressors” can actually have positive consequences for the family, and how family communication patterns can mitigate some of the ill effects of family stressors. Finally, in Part IV “Family Interaction, Health, and WellBeing, ” we consider the role of family communication in mental and physical health,