Margot, The best way for a parent to encourage communication in a family is to use some of the following tools and not let our hurried world suck the richness and love out of our families.
Parents are competing with the noise of video games, iPods, MySpace, Facebook, other Internet sites, television, and cell phones. There is a lot of communication out there, but it is not happening between you and your child, nor is it the kind of communication that will motivate and inspire your child.
Begin weekly family meetings that are mandatory for everyone to attend. Set the stage that these meetings are fun times of motivation and encouragement. These are the times parents talk to each child and become their cheerleaders.
Learn to be a great listener. Many parents just “send” to their children and do not “receive.” Children know when you are present and compassionately listening to their stories and experiences. Practice listening as if your life depended upon it. Listening is one of the greatest skills in life. When you listen to people you are showing them that they are valued, respected, and loved.