- learn to communicate effectively
A Guide to
Used in this Web Site
By Peter K.
Member NSRC Experts Council
address of this 3-page article is http://sfhelp.org/cx/tools/terms.htm
Updated April 30, 2013
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To plan, negotiate, and
problem-solve effectively, your family members and supporters need
a clear, common language. My professional experience is that average adults
often have undeveloped family and relationship vocabularies, and they accept
that. That promotes fuzzy thinking, misunderstandings, arguments, and accumulations of
unresolved conflicts ("old baggage").
These promote frustrations, resentments, and distrusts, rather than
family problem-solving, and
healthy bonding. Words and the ideas they symbolize are our basic tools for nurturing
interpersonal relationships. Do you agree?
To improve the effectiveness of your communications,
these three pages define basic
communication, and family terms. How many of these
can you explain to another person now? Follow the links for brief information
on each term.
This glossary assumes you're familiar with the
to this Web site, and the premises
Definitions in alphabetical order.
of these links open informational popups, and others lead to paragraphs in
these three definitions pages or in other articles in this site.
before you read about any of these terms, say your present definition out loud.
BIO- (prefix) -
denotes some aspect of a biological
(genetically-related) family. For example, biofamily role-titles are
biomother, biofather, biosister, biobrother, bio-grandparent, biochild, and
bio-kin. The prefix is useful because "standard" (pre-divorce) biofamily
are often very different from their post-divorce and stepfamily
(STEP)FAMILY - People who dislike the unpleasant associations of
"stepfamily" often use "blended family" instead.
In a true
blended ("complex") stepfamily, both mates have prior kids. Each mate
has two roles: stepparent and bioparent.
If a childless stepparent conceives a child
with a bioparent partner, that does not make them a blended stepfamily. All blended families are stepfamilies, but not all stepfamilies are blended. Confusing, isnt it? See "stepfamily"
CHILDHOOD - Before reading
more, evolve a thoughtful answer to three questions: "What was
your child-hood?"; "Was it good or bad?;"
and "What factors influenced it the most?"
In this site, childhood means "The period of time in a person’s life
between their conception and their leaving home as a truly independent,
self-supporting adult." Clarity on this is important in fully understanding
which is the heart of the
(GWC) idea in this course and
It’s possible that
while we're in the womb. Some
neo-natal researchers suggest that how a pregnant woman copes
(e.g. with unbalanced diet or harmful drugs) can chemically affect
the development of her fetus.
Some people wonder if fetuses may be
organically traumatized by loud noises (like marital arguing) or
"commotion" outside their mother’s body. My hunch is that seriously
Moms may unconsciously deprive
their kids of primal nurturance in complex ways we havent
identified yet. What do you think?
Major factors that affect the
of your childhood are
school, and church nurturance
levels, and (b) significant traumas. Assessing how each
factor affected filling a child's
developmental needs can help to
validate and recover from
Every parent needs to ponder...
nurturing were my and my mate/s
childhoods?" (low > moderate > high); and...
were each of my and my partner's childhood caregivers?"
Its possible a child
has a moderately healthy family and still be
emotionally deprived and traumatized for several years in a low-nurturance
school, activity, or church - though
caregivers would prevent
occurs when any perceived behavior of one person or
significantly affects another person or subself spiritually, psychologically,
mentally, or physically. "Significantly" is a subjective judgment.
Because silence, withdrawal, or no contact
may affect the receiver, there is no such thing as "no
All behavior aims to reduce or prevent
physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual discomfort (needs).
people seek to fill by "communicating." One is the constant need for self and mutual
shapes all human communication and relationships.
(vs. "open and honest") communication happens when each person involved
feels clearly that they...
got all their current
needs met well enough,
in a way that leaves them feeling good enough about themselves, their
partner/s, and their shared process.
Three widespread factors that cause
ineffective communication are unseen false-self
+ ignorance of communication basics
and skills + personal unawareness of
dynamics. Studying and applying
can improve all three of these.
CO-PARENT - "Co-"
is from the Latin "com-," which meant "together." Co-parents are two
or more adults in any family who
intentionally nurture dependent kids together. Active grandparents, aunts,
and uncles and some older teens can act as co-parents
A co-parent can be a
bioparent. a childless stepparent, or involved adult relative. Legally and physically,
divorcing-family and stepfamily co-parents
are custodial, non-custodial, or share joint custody. "Parent" can
be a family
(noun) a nurturing process, (verb) or a person who conceives and/or
nurtures a child (noun).
Some caregivers have stepparent and bioparent roles ("dual-role co-parents").
may have three or more co-parents living in two or more related homes
with their resident and visiting bio-kids and stepkids. The
and social environment that typical kids, co-parents, and
co-grandparents live in differs in
up to 40 ways from intact biofamilies!
The term co-parent is emotionally neutral. That helps offset our old
cultural bias that bioparents are "better" or more "normal" or "natural"
than stepparents or foster parents.
- In human
relationships, this term means two or more people who don't have clear
("This is who I am, as a person") and
(limits) that separate one individual from the other. Thus an enmeshed
person can't distinguish the difference between my needs, feelings,
opinions, and priorities and yours. This condition is clear evidence of
Enmeshment is the polar opposite of two people being independent - meaning
neither has a strong need to
the other. A middle option is an interdependent relationship, where each
per-son has a clear, stable identity, and stable boundaries.
These combine to let them relate together as co-equal partners out of conscious
choice, vs. unconscious compulsion ("I can't live without you!")
addiction) is a form of enmeshment where the wounded person progressively loses awareness of her
or his own needs, feelings, and goals, and focuses consciously on living from those
attributes of another person. The roots of this condition (vs. "disease') seem to be two common
psychological wounds: excessive shame and obsessive
of rejection and abandonment - i.e. terror of being self-responsible and
Whole households and families can be enmeshed, in that each person's life and
"business" is seen as being each other member's business - e.g.
everyone listens to each others' phone calls, and reads other member's personal
mail. A member's asserting for personal privacy evokes strong criticism, scorn,
and resistance from other members - "Why do you feel you need to keep
secrets from us?!"
EXTENDED FAMILY - Traditionally, an extended bio(logical) family
is comprised of a child’s several
generations of living genetic and legal relatives
other than siblings and parents i.e. the group of all aunts, uncles,
cousins, and grandparents. Thus a nuclear family + extended family = "the whole
family." Some people use "extended family" to mean all related members.
Classically, a childs extended family is at least two bioparents, and four
DNA-related grandparents. Who comprises your extended family now? The
and extended can clarify who you're talking about and reduce
- Who comprises "the whole stepfamily"? Including all blood and
legal relatives of three or more related co-parents and their minor and grown kids,
typical extended stepfamilies can have
living in a dozen or more related homes all over the continent.
of possible relationships among all members is often boggling. How many of
your multi-generational family members would know what "extended stepfamily"
means and who it includes? Common stepfamily stressors are confusion and disagreement
- two or more people who feel significantly bonded by some mix of emotions,
commitments, history, genes (perhaps), legal contracts (like
a marriage license,
Order of Protection), last names, memories, customs, and ongoing dependencies.
Many families include one or more minor or gown children, and others do not.
exist in every age and culture because they fill some core
child and adult needs better than any
other human grouping. Can you name these specific core
needs? Would each of your
relatives say their current family fills all their
are many kinds of human family: biological or "birth family," absent-parent
(usually called "single parent"), foster, bi-racial, multi-cultural, adoptive,
communal, childless, step, same-gender partners, and psychological (non-DNA-related).
family type is normal (has existed in all cultures and eras), has some things in common
with all others, and some facets that are different (vs. better).
When people have no bonds or relationship with genetic relatives, they may
select other adults and kids (a psychological family) to try to fill
the needs that a genetic family would otherwise. In the best case,
psychological families can be as nurturing, functional, and durable as
healthy intact biofamilies.
As global human health
has vastly improved in recent centuries, intact two-parent biofamilies are becoming the
norm except in war-torn and disease-dominated societies. Typical multi-home stepfamilies
differ in more ways
from traditional intact biofamilies than any other family type does.
who consistently fill all members mental,
spiritual, psychological, and physical
needs well enough (vs. just the kids needs) can be called "high-nurturance." Do you agree? If so,
did you grow up in a high-nurturance family?
of your current nuclear and extended families? Would other members agree?
Gauge your basic knowledge about
families with this quiz.
Lesson 5 in this online self-improvement
focuses on growing a high-nurturance family.
- People and the media describe some
families as "dysfunctional" -
often without knowing what that means. Premise: families have
existed in every age and culture because they fill members'
better than other
human groups. To nurture
means "to fill someone's needs."
So a "functional" or
family is one that consistently fills all members' needs well enough
- in someone's opinion. What needs?
All healthy adults and kids have
Kids in intact biofamilies also have
developmental needs which require adult help to fill. Children of
divorce and abandonment and typical stepkids have additional sets of
A high-nurturance family consistently fills
all these adult and child needs well enough. Any family
may be judged to be somewhere between "very low nurturance" (dysfunctional)
and "very high nurturance" (functional).
Typical high-nurturance families have characteristic
traits - can you name them?
Young kids raised in families with too few
of these traits
by developing up to
The wounds have
on their adult
contentment, relationships (like psychological or legal
divorce or never
marrying); parenting effectiveness; wholistic health; and
in this site
provides an effective way to
over time, and break
of family dysfunction.
explores family functioning.