Connections Instagram Photo Contest: Enter Today!

BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is all about connections—in and between families, societies, political systems, lands, and even between the past and the present! That’s why we call our annual magazine Connections. And we want to connect better with you!

We want to learn about some of the unique ways that our audience members connect, and not just with their wi-fi! Connections can be made in many different ways and with many different things or people. Doing family history can connect you with your ancestors.  Rotating weekly cooking arrangements that let you eat together can connect you with your roommates. Taking a morning walk every day may be your key for reconnecting with nature. Connections are everywhere!

Show us who or what you connect with, in Instagram, and you could win some amazing prizes!

 “My Connections” Contest Description:

“My Connections” is a photo contest through FHSS’s Instagram page. Your photo should depict a connection of some kind. You may choose to focus on a connection with

  • your community
  • your heritage
  • your education
  • your environment
  • your family
  • your friends or roommates

Or something else. Think outside of the box and be creative. You may not even recognize something you do as a means of connection until you take the time to stop and think. Three winners will be chosen. Each individual may enter one photo to the contest. The photo must be an original one you took.

To Be Eligible For This Contest You Must:

  1. Have an Instagram account
  2. Follow @byufhss on Instagram.

You don’t have to be a BYU student to enter, but you do need to post only BYU-appropriate content.

How to Enter the Contest:

  1. Post a picture on Instagram with the following:
    • A caption that describes the significance of the photo and how what is happening in the photo helps you connect
    • Tag @byufhss
    • Include #byufhssconnect in the caption

Contest Timeline:

Contest Timeline

Enter: You may enter the contest at anytime between Monday, November 30th and Wednesday, December 9th. Entries will not be accepted after midnight on December 9th.

Top Five: On Friday, December 11th the top five photos will be announced through the FHSS Instagram account (@byufhss). This decision will be based on creativity, aesthetic appeal, and relevance to the theme. Each of the top five photos will be posted onto the FHSS Instagram account exactly as it was entered. **Please note: By entering the contest, you give us permission to share your photo. You will be given credit.

Voting: Voting will determine 1st and 2nd place out of the top five. It will be conducted through the FHSS Instagram account and will be based on the number of likes each photo receives.”Likes” will ONLY be counted on the photos on the FHSS Instagram (“likes” on individual Instagram accounts will not be considered). Voting will take place between Friday, December 11th and will go until Sunday, December 13th at midnight.

Winners: 1st and 2nd and place winners will be announced on Monday, December 14th!


  • 1st place: a $50 Visa Gift Card (think: Christmas shopping done!)
  • 2nd place: a $30 finals survival kit full of goodies from the BYU Bookstore

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

*Note: by submitting a photo and entering the contest, the entrant affirms that it is his or her original work, and gives the BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences permission to use it in any of its various communications channels, including but not limited to the annual Connections magazine.

SFL Facebook Party How-To’s

Come chat with SFL experts and alumni about life and the topics discussed in the latest issue of SFL Family Connections. If you’re one of the 11,000 alumni of the School of Family Life, you’ve been invited to join the

BYU SFL Alumni Connect

closed group.

If you’re on Facebook, but haven’t received notification of your inclusion in that group, comment below, or search for “BYU SFL Alumni Connect” and ask to be invited. Then, plan on joining us on:

Tuesday, December 15th 7 – 8 p.m. MST

on Facebook!

We’ll be discussing marriage and its changing blueprints, in the context of the content of this magazine, with SFL and FHSS expert Alan Hawkins and others, and would love to hear your thoughts!

December issue cover crop

It’s a great chance to #AskAnFhssExpert any questions you might have, and get relevant answers in real-time.

The discussion will be moderated, and we ask that all participants apply civil dialogue principles.

Anyone who joins the discussion will be entered to win a $50 VISA gift card, usable anywhere.

facebook logo

How to Join the Chat:

  • Get on Facebook some time before December 10th at 7 p.m. MST. (9 p.m. EST, 8 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. PST). Make sure you have an account.
  • On the left-hand side of the page, below the Facebook icon, your account name, and “Edit Profile,” you should see eight groups (Favorites, Suggested, Pages, Groups, Apps, Friends, Interests, and Events). Click on Groups. Under Groups You’re In, you should see “BYU SFL Alumni Connect.” If not, click in the Search Facebook box at the top for “BYU SFL Alumni Connect closed group.”
  • When that group page appears, click on “Join.”
  • Just before 7 p.m. MST on December 10th, we’ll start welcoming everyone. All posts will include the hashtag #AskAnFHSSExpert.
  • You’re welcome to jump in and respond and say hello, or just follow the conversation on the group page. If you post, include the hashtag #AskAnFHSSExpert.
  • A $50 VISA gift card will be awarded to one randomly-chosen participant near the end of the hour.

Having problems joining? Comment below, and we’ll connect you!


Geographer’s Guide: Constraints & Blessings

Photo by Fran Djoukeng
Photo by Fran Djoukeng

Ever heard of a Navy Community Planner? GIS Specialist? Or even Mapping, Graphics, and Media Associate? Jobs like these belong to geographers. Besides unique traveling opportunities, surveying, sampling and performing mapping projects, geographers just look at situations differently.

Geographers have a systemic method for analyzing any given situation. Their work is pretty applicable to the unfolding of world events–especially the recent international conflicts. Using a geographer’s mindset can help in understanding the regional dramas shaping global trends.

Think of a Middle Eastern nation. A geographer would evaluate a situation in the Middle East from both singular perspectives (ex: anthropological, economical) and geo-political constraints, according to professor of geography at Brigham Young University, Perry Hardin. Geo-political constraints are conditions that have potential consequences: they can favor a society’s progress or become problematic for a population’s welfare.

Different countries possess different geo-political constraints. “When you think about the Islamic State carving out an area for themselves in northeast Syria, the fact that they are not going to have any kind of access to the Mediterranean Sea gives them some geo-political constraints that they are going to have to deal with, if the state survives, for the rest of their lives,” Hardin says.

What are the geopolitical constraints on Japan? China has geo-political constraints. Everybody has geo-political constraints and those may not be viewed in the same way by a geographer or a political scientist or an anthropologist.

Photo by Fran Djoukeng
Photo by Fran Djoukeng
Common geo-political constraints that civilizations or nations confront are:
  • navigability of waterways
  • the impact of terrain on transportation and the potential for inexpensive transportation
  • availability of energy resources compared to what actual needs are
  • natural boundaries between potential enemies
  • climate and soil

Constraints & Blessings

Hardin says France, for example, does not have a lot of geo-political challenges, except that it’s always been next to the hostile country of Germany. France has coastlines to the North and South and does not have a hostile friend to the West. It’s in good shape, geo-politically speaking. “Through history, it’s had hostile people to the East and there’s been the Northern European plane that permits France’s enemies to come into France without a lot of natural boundaries to prevent them from doing that,” Hardin explains.

Similarly, Hardin says the United States is also blessed because of oceans to the east and the west.  Like France, the United States has a country to the North that agrees with them in terms of political viewpoints. “America has countries to the south pretty much the same way. America has no neighboring enemies,” Hardin says. “We don’t have to spend a lot of our wealth fortifying those borders.That is not a geo-political constraint, that is a blessing.”

Compare that situation to a country such as South Korea, which has China to their West and North Korea to the East. Even now, South Korea is not friends with Japan to the East. “They’ve been an invasion route for centuries for people like the Japanese wanting to invade China,” Hardin says. “Those are constraints that they have to live with and concern themselves with. Part of the budget of South Korea goes into defense because of those constraints.”

Spatial Context

Geography as the study of physical or cultural earth phenomena in their spatial contexts treats location as an important thing. History, in contrast, looks at things through time. Geography looks at things through space.

Photo by Fran Djoukeng

Hardin, who has worked in locations across Central America, Europe, and East Asia counts Singapore among his favorite countries for its clean and safe environment and cultural components. Other FHSS faculty members specializing in geography are busy mapping phenomena.

The geography department, which uses Geographic Information Systems, offers GIS as one emphasis among six. Any good geographer, Hardin says, must appreciate a landscape and ask relevant questions about its impact on things and people and even how people impact the landscape. A typical geographer is always asking more.

When a geographer takes a trip across the country or they go on an airplane trip, they are looking out the window and they are asking questions constantly: “Oh look at this. Why is this railroad junction here? Who does it serve?” Instead of them sleeping in the back or watching television they look at the landscape. – Perry Hardin


 What is your favorite way to engage with the terrain around you?

Family Best Practices Discussed at the World Congress

In the midst of changing cultural definitions of “family,” it is perhaps more important than ever to know what works in families and what doesn’t. BYU FHSS School of Family Life professor David Dollahite and his colleagues have been hard at work for years researching those “best practices,” particularly as they relate to the practice of religion. Their research has been gaining a lot of attention lately, at Virginia Cutler lecture given on campus in October to a standing-room-only crowd, and more recently, at the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. The latter is a global gathering of parents, youth, lawmakers, scholars, religious leaders, and advocates united to affirm, celebrate, and encourage the natural family.


About his experience presenting at the World Congress, Dr. Dollahite said: “Across the earth, the two things that matter most to most people are their family and their faith. It was nice to be able to provide some information form our research project on how families of faith draw from their religious beliefs, practices, and communities to strengthen their marriage and family relationships.”

In both presentations, he described the American Families of Faith project. They surveyed 200 families:

  • All 200 families were parents in heterosexual marriages.
  • Married average of 20 years.
  • Parents were mostly middle-aged but ranged from late 20s to 60s.
  • Wide range of social-economic statuses.
  • Youth averaged 15.5 years.
  • Religiously diverse: 150 Christian families, 30 Jewish families; 20 Muslim families
  • Ethnically diverse: Over half of the families are from various ethnic, national, and cultural minorities including: African American, Asian American, East Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific Islander
  • Geographically diverse: Families are from 17 states in all 8 major regions in the nation including: Mid Atlantic (DE, MD, PA), Midwest (OH, WI), Mountain West (ID, UT), New England (MA, CT), Northwest (OR, WA), Pacific (CA), Southern Crossroads region (KS, OK), South (FL, GA, LA)

They found that:

  • Belief that God is a transcendent moral authority helps married couples strengthen their relational bonds.
  • Religious belief and practice help married couples make significant changes in their marital processes.
  • Couples’ perceptions of the roll that God plays in their marriage influence their relationship.
  • For religious couples their marriage means many things and their faith causes them to believe that their marriage means more than it would otherwise.
  • Religious belief, practice, and community helps couples avoid, resolve, and reconcile after marital conflict.
  • Religious commitment helps couples increase marital fidelity by sanctifying marital relationships.

American Families of Faith screenshot

About religious parents and youth, they found:

  • Religious youth describe how they explore their religious identity in various ways leading to varying degrees of commitment to their faith.
  • Religious youth describe how their religious commitments are anchored in God, their parents, youth leaders, and peers.
  • Religious youth choose to make a variety of personal sacrifices for their faith but most clearly see how this blesses their lives.
  • Families rated religious conversations as the most meaningful and the second most frequent (after grace at meals) religious activity when compared with 19 other religious activities (i.e., church attendance; prayer with the children).
  • When parent-adolescent religious conversations are youth-centered, the emotional experience is more positive for parents and adolescents than when they are parent-centered.

Dr. Dollahite commented that the future directions of the project will include creating ways to help inspire and empower the rising generation to create high-quality families of faith.

More information about the American Families of Faith project can be found at



A Therapy for All Seasons

Twenty-one year old BYU student Caroline Belnap met her future husband in New York City and married him in July of 2014. A little over a year later, Belnap says she sought out a therapist because she felt it would help her personally. She calls her personal therapy experience “comforting” and says that it’s something she looks forward to each week.

“A personal therapist or couples counselor can be such a help because you have the confidence of the person you are talking to and they are not going to judge you,” Belnap says. “For me, it helped me learn how to handle situations in a healthier way rather than doing something I would regret later.”

A member of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, Belnap says that Mormon culture may lead people to think that “marriage is going to be this happy thing with beautiful kids and beautiful home.” Speaking from her experience, Belnap says she recognizes the benefit of using counselors and therapists. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Common Misconceptions

Shayne Anderson, associate professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, cites several reasons why individuals resist therapy, including:

  1. Media portrayal
  2. Influence of family members or others with a negative perception of therapy
  3. A belief that therapy is only for “crazy” people
  4. A belief that a couple’s relationship is private and shouldn’t be shared with a stranger

“We tend to be self-reliant so it can feel like we are failing if we seek help,”Anderson says. “People should know, though, that couple therapy works and it works well, particularly for couples who come before their problems are deeply entrenched.”

Therapy can help you learn about yourself and your partner in ways that don’t happen during the normal courtship process. It can help you develop a solid foundation of open and honest communication and can help you have difficult conversations that you might otherwise never have. – Shayne Anderson

Two Becoming One

One misconception about marriage that Anderson says he sees most often is the belief that once you’re married the hard part is over. Anderson says that marriage is hard work and that it involves the merging of often very different family cultures. “Each partner comes to the table with a host of unspoken beliefs about gender roles, sexuality, emotional intimacy, finances, etc. Working through these to come to a set of shared beliefs takes work.”

BYU’s Comprehensive Clinic offers free treatment, also know as “marital checkups.” Generally, a couple meets with a master or doctoral student studying marriage and family therapy who assesses the health of their relationship and offer suggestions for improvement. This resource allows couples to have a trained therapist at no charge.

Anderson offers some questions that couples can incorporate into their dialogue to discuss how they can improve their relationship. He also encourages couples to ask these important questions on a regular basis:

  • Are you putting the other first?
  • Do you feel happy with the division of household labor?
  • Do you both feel that you have an equal voice in the relationship?

Emotional Communication

Humans have a fundamental need to be emotionally connected with another person. According to Anderson, humans possess the attachment need, a term coined by John Bowlby. Anderson says that individuals can “develop a secure attachment to someone when we can be vulnerable with a partner who is emotionally available to us and responsive to our needs.”

All relationships require communication, and, regardless of one’s relationship stage, counseling works for all individuals. Anderson highly recommends premarital counseling for individuals pursuing a marriage.”A good therapist will help the couple discuss some of the potential pitfalls and help the relationship begin on a solid foundation of communication,” Anderson says.

Jamie Moesser, an alum of BYU, speaks about her experience with marriage therapy: “I think all couples need to see a therapist occasionally, just like they do their doctor or dentist. It greatly benefited my husband and I. I got to re-discover the man I married, and we are growing closer every day. No matter who you are, marriage takes effort.”

Have you benefited from couples’ therapy?


Teaching Toddlers: Tips From the Child and Family Studies Lab

BYU‘s Child and Family Studies Lab has been learning hand in hand with parents and children for over 65 years. Teaching toddlers and other young children is their expertise.

If you’re the parent of a young child, you may think that it’s too soon to teach them about certain topics. Toddlers and preschoolers can be very apt and eager pupils, though, because they are naturally very curious and tactile. So, consider these tips from our FHSS experts:

Where’er Thou Art…Take Advantage of it!

Remember: the situations in which you find yourself throughout the day are the best (and healthiest) opportunities to teach your children. Making time for these types of exploratory activities—whether it’s during an afternoon walk or a morning romp in the snow—are key to child development. Your first goal should be to help your child associate learning with positive time spent with you. Once that association is established, it will likely continue throughout their life. Some theorize that firstborn children tend to perform better in school because at a young age the attention they receive from their parents is undivided between siblings.

Toddler-aged children certainly have a desire to learn. And your number one goal should be to nurture that desire. At this stage, it is more important to  help your children develop positive dispositions toward learning than anything else. Drilling and pressuring your children to learn too much too quickly can be detrimental to their futures. For example, the CFSL blog teaches us that “The amount of drill and practice required for successful reading of the English language at an early age may undermine the children’s dispositions to be readers.” Does your home encourage learning?

Teach at Their Pace

Children need time to learn. Yet so often at home we feel in a rush to give them the best education possible. Out of genuine concern for their well being, some of us tend to set quotas for our children’s learning. But which are we more worried about? How well Billy is learning, or how Billy compares to Bobby next door?

“The greatest enemy of understanding is coverage. As long as you are determined to cover everything, you actually ensure that most kids are not going to understand.” says Howard Gardner, a world-famous developmental psychologist. And the results from the research and experience at the CFSL show that Howie is right on the money.

If we fail to teach for understanding, we ultimately fail to teach.


Learn Best Teaching Methods

BYU’s CFSL is constantly looking for ways to improve its teaching methods. And so should you. “Research is an active component in the BYU kindergarten and preschool, thus ensuring the implementation of up-to-date practices in meeting the assessed needs of each student.” Try these tips:

        • Subscribe to a parent-child teaching blogs such as
        • Search for a Yahoo preschool homeschool group in your area. Look for those who have the most recent activity before asking to join.
        • Talk with experts, teachers, and even your friends and neighbors about what they are doing to improve their children’s learning environment.
        • The parent tips section of the CFSL site has lots of ideas on how to teach your children.  You can teach science to kids at any age, even to preschoolers. Steve Spangler Science is a great resource for all kinds of experiments for young children. Current BYU president Kevin J. Worthen had fun doing pudding experiments with CFSL kids recently.

Former president of the LDS church David O. McKay once said, “No greater responsibility can rest upon any man [or woman], than to be a teacher of God’s children.” And parents have an opportunity to teach their children at virtually every moment of every day. Hopefully you’ve noticed by now that your children learn more from what you do than what you say.  Above all: love, educate, and enjoy yourselves and your children to the fullest.

What are your child’s favorite learning activities? Tell us in the “Leave a Reply” section below!

On Creating Couple Safety: FHSS Expert Jonathan Sandberg

Note: This is a guest post from Dr. Jonathan Sandberg, a professor in FHSS’s School of Family Life. Professor Sandberg is involved in the Marriage and Family Therapy Programs at BYU, a Certified Emotionally Focused Supervisor with the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, and a licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah.

sandberg, jonathan
Jonathan G. Sandberg, Photo by: Elisa Tittle/BYU Copyright BYU PHOTO 2008 All Rights Reserved

I once heard from a young person something very insightful, a comment like this: “I guess I am just in love with the feeling of being in love.” Yes, feeling deep love from and for another person is a sublime experience. But, it is about the deep, serene, and settled sense of safety and security that comes with mature romantic love I write about today. That type of safety within a couple relationship has a name; it is called “attachment security”. The concept of secure or insecure attachment actually has its roots in parent-child research. John Bowlby (1), and later others (2), proposed that when a child feels a parent is accessible (“I can find you”) and responsive (“you reach out to me and comfort me when I call”), a secure attachment can develop. Accessibility and responsiveness become key attachment behaviors.

Other researchers have since proposed that a similar process occurs within a romantic relationship (3), namely, when a partner can consistently reach out for and find love and reassurance from her/his spouse, a secure bond of attachment is created. Sue Johnson has described this bonding as engagement (4,5). Accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement are three key attachment behaviors, and when present in a relationship, couples are more likely to feel satisfied and stable in their relationship, as well as communicate more effectively (6).

How then can a couple promote these key attachment behaviors in their relationship. Permit me to suggest a few do’s and don’ts.

Attachment Do’s and Don’ts

To be more accessible,


  • answer her/his phone calls
  • schedule and follow through on plans to spend face-to-face time (not facetime) together


  • place work, church service, or children above the marriage
  • give too large a portion of your time to hobbies

To be more responsive,


  • put down or put away all electronic devices when together with your spouse—this appears to be the primary impediment to responsiveness in modern marriages
  • develop good listening skills (look at your partner when s/he is talking to you, validate, etc.)


  • ignore or dismiss your partner or her/his feelings
  • give the silent treatment

To be more engaged:


  • be warm and reassuring when your partner is in distress
  • express your commitment to and confidence in your spouse


  • criticize or give advice when your partner reaches out to you
  • take over her/his problem, which conveys a message that you think they are not competent
22146076165_539f75c0db_h Man yelling at woman courtesy Flickr InfoWire dk
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

We can all take small steps to increase our accessibility and responsiveness to and engagement with our spouses. These steps can make a difference in our marriage. If you are interested in learning more about attachment and how to create security and safety in your relationship, I suggest you read one or both of Dr. Sue Johnson’s books which are listed below.

What are your thoughts on these do’s and don’ts? What has worked for you in creating attachment security?

  1. 1.Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1973). The development of infant-mother attachment (pp. 1-94). In B. M. Caldwell & H. N. Ricciuti (eds.), Review of child development research (Vol. 3). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  3. Feeney, J. A. (2008). Adult romantic attachment: Developments in the study of couple relationships (pp. 456-481). In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (eds.), Handbook of Attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  4. Johnson, Susan. (2008). Hold Me Tight. Little Brown, NY.
  5. Johnson, Susan. (2013). Love Sense. Little Brown, NY.
  6. Sandberg, J. G., Busby, D. M., Johnson, S. M., & Yoshida, K. (2012). The brief accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement (BARE) scale: A tool for measuring attachment behavior in couple relationships. Family Process, 51(4), 512-526. 


Undergrads Doing Neuroscience Research: Come See!

Neuroscience is an intriguing department within the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences. Do you ever wonder what those students are learning about? Quit wondering and find out!

ProfilePictureThe neuroscience club in collaboration with Chiasm is hosting a poster showcase on December 1st in the 2nd floor atrium of the Life Sciences Building. A poster showcase allows undergraduate students who have a previous neuroscience ORCA to present their research and findings.

Come check out the great research that our students are doing! Here’s an example of what they’ve done in the past:


 Event Details:

December 1st (Tuesday) from 12- 2pm in the 2nd floor atrium of the LSB


Geography Awareness Week at BYU

Get into geography in new and exciting ways with your friends or kids! Participate in these activities, put on by BYU’s Geography Club, which is run by students and under the umbrella of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

Geography Awareness Week Nov 16-20 (002)Untitled

Monday, November 16th: Geocaching Competition Begins

  • Download a free Geocaching app, or go to
  • Create an account on
  • Search for geocaches in Provo, Utah.
  • Find as many as you can until the morning of Friday, the 20th.
  • Show the logs of your visits in your app or by taking pictures of the caches and showing them to the students at the geography booth in the SWKT lobby throughout the week. You’ll receive an entry for a free GPS for each geocache you found.
  • If you need any help, you can click on the “i” button in the app, or the “Learn” tab at

Tuesday, November 17th: Campus Urban Planning Tour with Dr. Michael Clay

In cooperation with the Student Urban Planning Association, a Campus Tour will be conducted by urban planning authority Dr. Michael Clay. Meet in the SWKT lobby at the geography booth at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, November 18th: GIS Day and SWKT Rooftop Tour

Come learn about geographic information systems software, or take advantage of this rare opportunity to view your world from atop the highest building in Utah County. Meet at the geography table in the SWKT lobby any time between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. for a guided rooftop tour.


Thursday, November 19th: Chauncy Harris Lecture by Tim Warner on Remote Sensing

In 250 SWKT at 11 a.m.


Friday, November 20th: Geocaching Competition GPS Prize Winner Announced; SWKT Rooftop Tour, and 1st Annual Geography Major Picture

  • The winner of the the free Garmin GPS will be announced at 12 p.m. at the geography table in the SWKT lobby (see above for more information).
  • Another rare opportunity to gain admittance to the rooftop of the SWKT. Meet at the geography table in the SWKT lobby any time between 1 and 2 p.m.
  • Participate in the first annual Geography Major Picture 3 p.m. in the SWKT quad (to the south of the SWKT). If you’re a geography major at BYU, come dressed like a geography major and get ready to strike a pose for a giant group photo!