Family Communication Project

The Family Communication Project is an ongoing prevention program that fosters better interpersonal relations, especially around matters of everyday sources of conflict, between the parents and their adolescent.

Research Overview

The primary goal of the Family Communication Project is to strengthen family relationships by providing parents and adolescents with research-based information and communication skills to increase constructive conflict behaviors and decrease destructive conflict behaviors used in family interactions.  A secondary goal of this project is to provide an empirically valid test for the effectiveness of the education program, based on randomized clinical trial design. The parent curriculum includes an educational component that addresses four content areas:  marital conflict's effect on the marriage; marital conflict's effects on the child; adolescent developmental issues and parent-adolescent conflict; and family security. The adolescent component shares many of the tenets of the adult curriculum but employs a more general perspective on conflict issues that are pertinent for teens including peer conflict, respecting parents, and developing effective communication skills.  Another aspect of the program, communication training, allows families to practice their newly acquired skills in a one-on-one setting.

Funded By

William T. Grant Foundation in 2007

Age Group

  • Adolescents
  • Adults


  • E. Mark Cummings, Ph.D. (PI)
  • Brad Faircloth, Ph.D. (Co-I), Department of Health and Human Services, Family, Infant and Preschool Program
  • Jennifer Cummings, Ph. D. (Co-I), University of Notre Dame

Research Impact

The program incorporates innovative and interactive techniques for conveying the material to promote the retention and application of the program content including Nintendo's Wii, movie clips, and physical interaction. The randomized-design supports rigorous multiple group/curriculum comparisons and allows for an empirical examination of the specific elements of program effectiveness (i.e. curriculum materials, inclusion of the adolescent in the communication training sessions).

Research Themes