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Family Resolutions

February 1, 2019

Host:  Dr. Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Director for Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, University of Kentucky

Guest: Dr. David Weisenhorn, Extension Specialist for Parenting and Child Development

Episode 34

0:00 Welcome to Talking FACS; what you need to know about family, food, finance and fitness. Hosted by the University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Program, our educators share research knowledge with individuals, families and communities to improve quality of life.

0:20 Dr. Hunter: Hello and welcome back to Talking FACS. This is your host, Dr. Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Director for Family Consumer Sciences Extension at the University of Kentucky.

Today, I'm joined by Dr. David Wissenhorn, our Extension Specialist for Parenting and Child Development. Thanks so much for being with us today, David.

0:35 Dr. Weisenhorn: Always a pleasure to be here.

0:37 Dr. Hunter: So, I'm excited. I think that this is a fun topic; Family Resolutions. Or given our time of year, just after the holidays, and we might be a few weeks into January, but still thinking about renewal and establishing new routines.

So, today we're talking about Family New Year's Resolutions and what we as a family might have to look forward to in 2019.

1:03 Dr. Weisenhorn: Now, and I have to warn that the listeners; before you turn this off, I'm aware that people are not fond of New Year's resolutions, because we know by February, 80 percent of the people are no longer following their resolutions and I have fallen victim to that more times than I want to admit.

But that's not really where we're going to focus. Today, I want to focus more on this idea of family motivation that gives us the incentives that we need oftentimes in the longevity to complete our resolution.

Some research that I have read recently identifies beyond the first two motivations which are intrinsic (the motivation that we get from within) and the extrinsic (the motivation that comes from external motivators) there is a third motivation that they have found recently and that is that family motivation is equally important and a driving force of motivation as the other two and so that's really exciting.

2:04 Dr. Hunter: Yeah, and as we were chit chatting before when you came into the studio today, just about the idea of the family resolution, I thought that was such a neat way to frame it and help our family, they truly are motivators for what we do every day.

If I think about what it is that I do on a daily basis, a large part of that is for my family and to support my family. So, they are very motivating factor in our lives.

2:29 Dr. Weisenhorn: Absolutely. And I hear time and time again, parents are always trying to adjust their behaviors in order to get the best value out of the family or make the biggest impact within the family for the greatest good.

So, I think the research that uncovers that family is a motivation can be exciting when it comes to this idea that the new year’s starting, how are we going to look forward and what are we going to do this year that we can change some behaviors and maybe benefit the whole family?

2:56 Dr. Hunter: Let's talk about that. What is it that we can do as a family, as well as an individual, to reach that goal?

3:04 Dr. Weisenhorn: The first thing that I would offer up is this idea of setting a daily intention. Think of one thing that you can do or not do as it pertains to your family. Like maybe today, it's you won't yell and that's one that I use in my family.

3:18 Dr. Hunter: I always appreciate your honesty, David.

3:20 Dr. Weisenhorn: I have a loud voice and at times my temper can soar. And oftentimes, my first response will be a yell and I realize that that doesn't oftentimes motivate my children to behave the way that I want.

And so, just simply saying, “Okay, I'm not going to yell” can be one; it’s measurable and two; it's pretty discrete. It's something that I have control over, and I can have a control over it in the very beginning.

So, for me, my daily intention this year is not to yell or to yell less because sometimes, that certain “not going to do it” is hard to do. So, setting a daily intention.

The other one would be say you're sorry; it’s really difficult. When we get in a hurry and we all have crazy busy lives. It's easy to make a mistake. So, some research that I have also read indicates that authentically saying, “I'm sorry” makes getting back to a positive mood much easier and can happen in a shorter amount of time. So, saying you're sorry has a real benefit.

And I think what becomes difficult in that is identifying that, “Maybe I'm the one at fault”. And so, I'll challenge parents to say, you know, the idea is not necessarily win an argument, but to get along. And being able to say, “I'm sorry” can be that first step to getting back together and getting along.

4:37 Dr. Hunter: I also think that a parent being able to say, “I'm sorry” to a child when the parent recognizes that they have screwed something up, which in my household happens on a daily basis, that just things, happen life happens and sometimes that is very, very much my fault.

And I can think of a time recently, very specifically, that I got my daughter’s schedule confused, her after school activities. And unfortunately to her, she missed something that was very, very important to her because I had it the wrong date, the wrong time on the calendar. And even though there was other clues pointing towards that I headed the wrong place, I didn't really catch on to that.

So, that was although completely unintentional, it was my fault and I very sincerely apologized to her for that. But what I hope that that helps her realize is that when she messes up, when she screws up, that it's good to look at that person and say, “I'm sorry. I recognized that I didn't fulfill my end of the bargain. I didn't do what I was supposed to do. And I am sorry”.

5:42 Dr. Weisenhorn: And that is such a great statement and what a good way to model for children that I think it's important and something that parents don't do often enough is that we require our children to say, “We're sorry” or they're sorry to each other or to us for minor indiscretions, but we fail to do that. So, absolutely a good, a good opportunity to model that for your children.

Another one would be to take a time out. You know, again we talk about how busy our lives are. Just taking a quick 10-minute time-out to do something for yourself. And parents, that's right; I'm saying to do something for yourself.

Again, we're going to model good behavior for our children by just taking something, 10 minutes, to do what you like to do. It doesn't have to be a breathing exercise, but it could be. If you like meditation, you could do a small meditation or go for a walk. You could pet your pet; I don’t know if you can say that; pet your pet. If you have a pet and you enjoy spending time with them, spend time with the pet.

And again, I think it helps us refresh as parents to come back with maybe more sound mind. We're taking time for ourselves and we're modeling for our children.

6:44 Dr. Hunter: And again, I think that's one of those things that we need to take guilt away for parents; feeling like, “Well, I can't take that time to myself because I should be giving that to my kiddos or to my spouse or to my work, etc. But we do know that just taking that step back, taking that breath, really and truly can make us better at everything else that we were trying to accomplish.

7:07 Dr. Weisenhorn: Absolutely. And I think when we don't take that time out, we begin to build resentment and frustration because at the end of the day, we look back and say, “Gosh, I didn't do anything for myself today. I'm always giving, giving, giving”. And we know again eventually, that cup runs dry and there's nothing left to give and that is when bad things begin to happen. So, taking a time out.

And then the last one I might share would be just maybe to do as a family practice; to share an accomplishment for the day. I know I fall victim to being very critical of the things I don't get accomplished at the end of the day. It's easy to look at a to-do list and say, “Gosh, look at all the things I still have left to do”.

But on the reverse, in 2019, let's start by saying, “Gosh, look at all the things we're doing and we're doing well this year”. And so, being able to sit down and you know, Jennifer, I love the dinner table. So, we’ll sit at the dinner table at the end of the day and everybody goes around and shares a small accomplishment of what they got together. Maybe it was a homework assignment that's kind of been nagging or a report or for me, it could be a maybe a small home project or an event that I had, some podcasts that I needed to do at work. All of the different things that we can and we do accomplish throughout the day and what a way to celebrate together as a family.

8:19 Dr. Hunter: So, that was actually going to be my next question about sharing with the family because that is one thing that we've tried to implement at home as well is at the end of the day, everybody focus. Even if you've had a bad day, and sometimes we have really bad days and it might be hard to find that good or find that accomplishment, but the end of the day, everybody shares at least one accomplishment of the day; one good thing that happened today.

And it might just be making it to work on time or making it school on time or not being late to the bus, but you know, some days you have to search, but still just taking that time to pause, reflect and to find that one good thing.

And I will say I've not kept up with this and I wish that I had, is that at one point, I was– my son says I go through phases and stages, I was very motivated about this and I would write them down every night. Like I'd write the date, kept a little journal of what good has happened today, what we're thankful for today.

And not too long ago, actually over the holiday break, I was clearing out our old cabinet and I found that in there and it was for when he was 3 and 4 years old and it was so neat to go back, because he's 14 now. So, it was so neat to go back and just see it again through his eyes and read what it is that was going on in his life as well as our lives at the time.

And I could tell by what we had talked about; days that we had had struggles and days that big things were going on in our family and it was just a really good time of reflection.

9:53 Dr. Weisenhorn: Yeah, it reminds us. When we talk about accomplishments, it reminds us of our abilities and potential to accomplish tasks, in that what a good way to kind of go to bed at night. You know, instead of filling ourselves with all the things we haven't done, kind of creates that anxiety of like, “Gosh, tomorrow is going to be a rough day. I've got to add all these things that haven't done to that to-do list”. Instead, saying, “You know what? I've accomplished a lot”. And we have the potential to do great things. After all, big tasks happen one little one step at a time.

10:20 Dr. Hunter: That is a great tip and probably where we should leave this conversation today, David, because you're right that a small step can definitely lead to a huge accomplishment. Thanks so much for joining us today.

10:29 Dr. Weisenhorn: It's always a pleasure. Thank you.

10:31 Thank you for listening to Talking FACS. We deliver programs focusing on nutrition, health, resource management, family development and civic engagement.

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