According to the Family Communication Patterns Theory, there are four different types of family communication patterns: consensual, pluralistic, protective, and laissez-faire. These patterns differ in their level of conversation and conformity so wherever your family is at on the spectrum, your family’s communication style will fall in one of the four patterns of communication.

Take a moment to review the following terms and see which pattern best resembles your family’s style of communication:

Conversation – Families are capable of having open conversations and discuss any topic freely.

Conformity – Families with individuals (a parent usually) who has the authority to make final decisions.

Pluralistic – With conversation but without conformity, families have open conversations with every member having equal opportunities for input when the family unit makes a decision together.

Consensual – With conversation and conformity, family members are able to openly communicate their thoughts and feelings but also value conformity within the family unit. Parents or caregivers are usually they ones who make the final decision.

Laissez-Fair – Without conversation or conformity, families are emotionally detached from each other. Children are typically free to make their own choices without interest from parents/caregivers.

Protective – Without conversation but with conformity, parents or caregivers expect their children to obey by the rules and do not usually trust their children to make their own decisions.

To learn more about the Family Communication Patterns Theory, visit

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