It has been said that communication is the golden cord that bonds us together within our marriages, families and communities. Yet, there are three basic and almost universal ways many families employ which tend to have a dysfunctional impact on our effectiveness to communicate with each other: don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel.
In my nearly 26 years of working in the field of clinical therapy, behavioral and mental counseling, I have found that one of the greatest needs individuals, couples and families exhibit is learning how to communicate effectively. The struggle is real. A simple misunderstood or seemingly insignificant issue can lead to feelings of misunderstanding, rejection, emotional pain and, in some cases, physical violence.
In her book, It Will Never Happen to Me, Claudia Black points out that, under the guise of the rules of dysfunctional communication, we employ the dysfunctional self-preservation behaviors of don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel. I’m sure if you take a close look at these three behaviors, you will find your family’s communication style. Examples can be seen in the families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The dysfunctional communication principle of “don’t talk” has its basis in a learned family history of experiences that have been deemed as embarrassing, painful or shameful, This way of communicating plays a role in decreasing the ability to be transparent and open within one’s own family, and goes beyond the home, impacting other relationships.
When parents fail to follow through with promises, or communicate an inability to be consistent, children grow up learning the dysfunctional trait of “don’t trust” anyone inside or outside of the family. Trusting can be seen as painful and can lead to not being able to trust God.
Individuals from homes where feelings are ignored, minimized or invalidated learn that to “not feel” is better than attempting to confront or deal with particular hurtful experiences at the risk of experiencing emotional or physical pain.
Whatever family principle of dysfunction we may have experienced, there is refreshing help and support when we look to God. He invites the home “to be an object lesson, illustrating the excellence of true principles of life (communication). Such an illustration will be power for good to the world.” With His invitation, God provides transforming power for change.
In Psalms 40:1, Proverbs 3:5 and Hebrews 4:15–16, our loving Savior calls us to His gentle side and invites us to talk to, trust in, and feel His presence. When we learn to communicate with God, we’ll learn, through His strength, how to change our unhealthy and dysfunctional family patterns of communication, and “be a bright and shining light of [communicating His] love everywhere!”
 Black, Claudia. It Will Never Happen to Me. Denver: M.A.C. Printing, 1982
 White, Ellen G. (Manuscript 140, 1897)
 White, Ellen G. (Signs of the Times, Sept. 1, 1898)