Four Benefits to New Students of Attending the New Student Orientation FHSS Breakout Session

It’s that time of year again: Fall, school, and New Student Orientation. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host its breakout session on Friday September 1st from 3-5pm. The event starts with a presentation by the Advisement Center in B002 of the JFSB that will cover:

  • Information about the Advisement Center
  • Information about advisors and career paths
  • Myths regarding the liberal arts

Following that will be tables manned by representatives of the individual departments, as well as other college entities. in the Southeast Breezeway of the JFSB Courtyard. Those tables will include

  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • The School of Family Life
  • Geography
  • Neuroscience
  • Anthropology
  • FHSS Writing Lab
  • Office of Civic Engagement.

The Dean’s Office will have a table and representatives will be available to answer any questions you have about the college.

If you’re a new student, what are the benefits of attending FHSS’s New Student Orientation?

1. Learn about different majors

Trying to figure out what to study can be daunting. Taking advantage of NSO to ask various department representatives about their department can help you decide what you want to study.

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2. Build connections

Because you are interacting with faculty and department representatives, you will be able to establish a valuable connection early on. The connections you form during your time here will serve you long after you graduate.

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3. Meet people with similar interests

You can never have too many friends! Take this opportunity to meet people who are interested in the same things you are. giphy (1)

 

4. Get a cookie!

The Dean’s Office table will be giving out cookies. Enough said.

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Be sure to stop by the JFSB on September 1st to learn more about the wonderful opportunities offered by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences!

Should We Institute Relationship Education for Youth?

“We are failing to equip our youth with the ideas, tools, and practices to know how to negotiate their romantic and sexual lives in healthy, nondestructive ways that prepare them to achieve the happy, functional marriages and families that most of them say they want in future years,” said Christian Smith and his co-authors in their book Lost in Transition: The Darker Side of Emerging Adulthood. Professor Alan Hawkins, in our School of Family Life, agrees. He proposes, in fact, that an institutionalization of better relationship education for youth (YRE) is the answer. He provides an argument for it in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

couple 2“The road that links adolescence to adult family life is not a paved interstate,” he says, “with efficient on- and off-ramps, helpful guideposts, and numerous safety features to prevent or cushion mistakes. Youth navigate [it] alone for the most part. In contrast to a few generations ago, society generally takes a hands-off approach to regulating adolescent and young adult romantic relationships. Not surprisingly, then, many young people arrive at their family destinations battered and bruised.

The Facts

According to Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families, 80% of young adults surveyed want to get married. However, young adults in general have some of the highest rates of divorce, according to marriage scholar Nick Wolfington.

“Intervening earlier in relationship development, before individuals are committed or perhaps even partnered, has the potential to have an even greater impact on improving relationship quality, reducing divorce rates, and, perhaps most importantly, supporting stable unions for children to grow up in,” said Galena Rhoades and Scott Stanley in their analysis of relationship education.

Hawkins supported this by citing a 2011 study on the evidence of relationship education on high school aged youth: “Overall, [the research] found significant, positive change in students’ relationship skills. These changes were moderated, however, by a number of factors: students in two-parent families showed stronger gains; those in severely economically disadvantaged areas showed little gain; mandated classes produced stronger gains than self-selected classes,” said Hawkins.

Why and How?

effect-1772035_960_720Statistics Hawkins cites demonstrate overwhelmingly that teens’ relationship problems often start early. “Prominent scholars argue,” he says, “that romantic relationships in youth are neither transitory nor trivial, but instead have real effects, positive and negative, on adolescent development.” Youth relationship education has the potential to reduce problematic pathways to marriage (e.g., cohabitation, out-of-wedlock childbirth) and increase the success of their relationships, and thus their happiness.

So, if the need is apparent, how does one implement YRE? Hawkins offers the following suggestions:

  • Private funders and government entities need to invest more in YRE
  • Schools need to be more proactive in providing YRE and must be able to teach all of their students. This can be done by assimilating YRE into required health classes, which have a large reach, as opposed to elective Family and Consumer Science classes
  • Religious settings in conjunction with parental involvement are a good place to suggest YRE
  • Community programs can incorporate YRE into existing youth programs.

Of Paramount Importance

If the only thing that you have to offer in a relationship or marriage is your physical appearance, then you are definitely walking on a very thin line,” said Edmond Mbiaka. It takes more than physical beauty to sustain a healthy relationship or marriage.”  While there are limits to YRE, statistics show the effectiveness of teaching youth how to form healthy relationships, Hawkins says. Finally, Hawkins suggests that instead of differentiating between YRE and CRE (couple relationship education), people refer to them collectively as simply, RE- relationship education: “Removing the C from CRE clarifies that the field is much broader than providing valued relationship education to intact couples; it encompasses the important work of individually-oriented relationship literacy education for youth and young adults. Perhaps this small change in how we refer to the field will spur greater attention to the need to allocate a greater proportion of our resources to healthy relationship formation for young people, to help them better navigate the challenging roads to forming healthy relationships and stable marriages.”

Do you think we should institute YRE?

 

When Women’s Voices are Truly Heard: Chris Karpowitz and “The Silent Sex”

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture,” wrote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her book We Should All Be Feminists. BYU Political Science professor Dr. Chris Karpowitz has researched what that “full humanity” looks like currently, in the context of public meetings and politics. In the 2014 book The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, & Institutions, authored by him and Princeton University professor Dr. Tali Mendelberg, they discuss the reasoning behind, methods, results, and implications of a study they conducted on the subject of gender equality in politics. They found, among other things, that only in certain situations are women’s voices truly heard.

Gender Equality – The Study

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Photo courtesy of Goodreads

That study, The Deliberative Justice Experiment, included both male and female participants who were divided into groups and tasked with discussing and making decisions regarding the redistribution of money. They were told that they would be paid based on their group’s decision; the decision had to be by majority or unanimous, depending on which group they were placed in.

This experiment allowed Doctors Mendelberg and Karpowitz to ask important questions, such as:

  • How much do women and men speak?
  • Do men use interruptions to establish their status in the group?
  • Do women use them to create a warmer tone of interaction in the group?
  • Do women express their preferences during discussion?
  • How does what happens in the discussion affect the decision the groups ultimately makes?

The researchers found that those in unanimous decision groups were more inclusive and more vocal in expressing their preferences, and discussed the issue longer. If men were in the numerical minority in such a group, though, they tended to increase their participation and interrupt more. According to Karpowitz, this meant that “unanimous rule is good for women when [they] are in the [numerical] minority…but it is bad for women when they are the majority, …as men—the numerical minority—increase their participation.”

Majority rule groups also demonstrated behaviors that had both benefits and drawbacks for women. “Majority rule signals that the more numerous groups…are entitled to exercise power,” said the authors. When women are in the majority, they participate more and “can benefit from this signal to exercise power.” So, in order to achieve their goals, women must have a large majority. The opposite is true for men: they can get away with having a small majority. Furthermore, when women are in the majority, the men in the group are more resistant to their stances. “Unanimous rule helps women when they are few, while majority rule helps women when they are many.”

Implications for Change

The authors posited that simply holding meetings and increasing the proportion of female municipal leaders were ineffective ways to boost female involvement. Indeed, the question of whether or not more females should get involved in politics because of their gender has tended to be a topic about which people have strong opinions. Margaret Dayton, a BYU alumni who is the longest-serving woman in the Utah state legislature, said in last year’s issue of Connections: “Your gender does not qualify you to serve. Your principles, your willingness to work, your experience that brings you there, those are the kinds of things that qualify people, not gender.” And Karpowitz conducted a study with fellow political science professor Jessica Preece that found that “quotas, which face practical and ideological barriers in the United States, are not the…way to increase women’s representation.”

Rather, Karpowitz and Mendelberg suggest that increasing the number of women in meetings and municipalities where they might be underrepresented or in the minority, and implementing unanimous rule—or measures that lead to total inclusion—might rectify the problem of “the silent sex.” Although unanimity is not without its problems, the process aids women when they are in the minority.

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The authors cite political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville‘s views on class differences: “The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds much more enlightened than his own.” The same can be said for gender equality. Only by making a concerted effort can we be more inclusive of women in politics and other public forums.

 

Why do Women do Most of the Housework?

We’ve mentioned recently what sociology professor Renata Forste’s research says about the stalled revolution of the gendered division of housework, and about how we as a society tend to devalue such work. Her comments at a 2017 Cutler Lecture provide further illumination as to why women still do the lion’s share of housework,”

  • Relative resources: “According to this perspective, the more resources or power a person has in relation to his or her spouse,” said Forste, “the easier it should be to bargain one’s way out of routine housework.” Thus, if a man makes more money than his wife, the implicit (or explicit) agreement is that he should not have to do as much housework. However, research shows that, even when women are equal to men in terms of what they bring in, they do more housework.
  • Time availability: Since time is a resource, the amount of time spouses or partners work outside the home would seem to have a direct impact on their share of housework. It doesn’t have as much as an effect as one would think, though.
  • Awareness: Men are not always aware when it is necessary to do housework.

Forste encourages men and women to “view [housework as] regular maintenance, rather than women’s work, [which will] change how we share the load and how we think about it.”

To view the full lecture, click here

This post is twenty-fourth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Hope is Essential to Relationships, says SFL Professor

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for,” said Tom Bodett, an American author, voice actor, and radio host. In a forthcoming study, School of Family Life professor Alan Hawkins demonstrates that love and hope are inexorably connected. The study focused on how hope plays an integral role in the ability of couples to fix their relationships.

The Study

“Relationship hope is what it sounds like: hope for the future of the relationship,” says Dr. Hawkins, “hope that you have the knowledge and skills to make the relationship strong in the future, even if you are experiencing challenging problems now.” One-hundred eight-two married and unmarried, low-income couples took part in Family Expectations, a psycho-educational intervention in Oklahoma City that lasted 30 hours. They completed a pretest and an exit interview; the researchers used these assessments to study how relationship hope had affected what they got out of their sessions and whether hope increased as a result of their participation.

divorce-separation-marriage-breakup-split-39483-mediumDr. Hawkins found that those with the lowest amount of hope at their pretest were the ones who benefited the most from the intervention. “Those who are lowest have the most room to grow,” he said. “But also, these are the ones who possibly come to these programs with the most ‘pain’ and the most motivation to change. They sense that without help and change their relationship will fall apart.” Interestingly, he found that women’s relationship hope increased the most when their partner exhibited growth in positive relationship skills. “Previous research has shown that women are more sensitive to the overall quality of the relationship and monitor the ‘health’ of the relationship more than men. I think they are more attuned to changes in their partners than are men. And when they see positive change, it really means a lot to them. Women are just more relationship-oriented.”        

Impetus

What was the impetus behind the study? Dr. Hawkins serves as a member of the Research Advisory Group for Project Relate, an Oklahoma-based organization supporting relationship education services in the U.S. It is one of two state-government-supported organizations providing relationship education services. “I was excited to evaluate their flagship program, ‘Family Expectations,’ said Hawkins. “[It] serves hundreds of low-income married and unmarried couples every year. Moreover, I wanted to test explicitly the role of relationship hope in relationship education.”

Implications

What are the implications of these findings? Hawkins believes that a possible implication is that, if counseling program developers ensure that their processes are aligned well with men’s interests and learning styles, they will be more successful. As to where his research will go next, he says: pexels-photo-168426“I hope to spur more researchers in the relationship education field to focus on…relationship hope. Also, I think the construct of relationship hope in a particular relationship is important, but I think it is also important for youth/young adults to have a general hope that they can achieve a healthy, stable relationship and marriage. So I may play with broadening the concept to general relationship hope (not hope about a specific relationship).”

 “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all,” wrote the poet Emily Dickinson. In a relationship, such hope is crucial. Through his research, Dr. Hawkins expertly reinforced this truth.

Six Dating Tips From FHSS College Resources

If there is one thing on BYU students’ minds as much as academics, it’s dating. A 2014 study by School of Family Life professor Brian Willoughby found that: “young adults…expect to place a high importance on the marital role in their future…. [They] appear to be actively planning on placing time, energy and resources into an eventual spousal role.” Something young adults regard as paramount should not be taken lightly. Various Family, Home, and Social Sciences resources provide tips to aid them in their quest.

Tip #1: Enjoy Being Single

“Most young adults have a desire to marry and one day have a family of their own,” said student Shelece McAllister in a Forever Families article on dating and being happy while single. “However, the process of dating and seeking a marriage partner can be daunting, and sometimes finding your spouse can seem an impossible task. Don’t give up hope! It is possible to successfully navigate the wilderness of the dating world and make it to the promised land.” Student Josh Sorenson of the College’s Comprehensive Clinic advised others to take time to be grateful and optimistic; optimism is key to good emotional and physical health. “In general those with more positive emotions tend to have better health,” he said. “People who report more positive affect socialize more often and maintain more and higher-quality social ties.” Practicing gratitude and optimism will help people enjoy their lives and form more meaningful relationships.

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Tip #2: Learn How to Differentiate Between Promptings and Real Life

We’ve all heard the story about the man who received revelation revealing the woman he was to marry. But is that revelation always right? And, what do you do if it’s not? Professors Michael Goodman and Lauren Barnes discuss how to reconcile revelation with relationships in this article from The Daily Universe. “I believe that a lack of understanding [of] the role and interpretation of revelation leads some well-meaning people to mistaken assumptions about what their feelings mean,” said Dr. Goodman.

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Courtesy of The Daily Universe

Tip #3: Refine Your Search

“I fall in love with at least three girls every passing period. It happens all the time. I would be walking past the Brimhall building on my to the Harris Fine Arts Center and spot and a girl and say ‘Oh, I love her.’ Then 15 seconds later, I would spot another girl and say, ‘Oh, I love her.’ Then eventually, another girl passes and I see her and think, ‘I love her,’ said BYU Econ graduate Alex Doss. There is an economic theory that describes his experience and how he and others can refine their search for true love; it prescribes beginning by establishing one’s own goals and identity.

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Tip #4: Learn How to Have a Healthy Relationship

People know how to get into a relationship, but they don’t often know what to do once they’re in it. Sometimes, the relationship can turn abusive or just fizzle; there are so many ways a relationship can dissolve. However, when a person is in a relationship, whether or not it lasts, they need to ensure it is a healthy one. The Relate Institute provides some pointers on understanding what abuse is and how to combat it, and onlearning how to have fun.

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Tip #5: Debunk the Myth of Soulmates

“You can certainly see the appeal of a soul mate. Somewhere, someone is out there that is destined to be with you. Someone who will make your happier and more satisfied than anyone else in the world. With our lives full of stress and heartache, this beacon of hope can make us strive forward in relationship after relationship, seeking that one and only true love,” wrote a Relate Institute author. While the idea of a soulmate is enticing, it can lead us to miss out on so many potentially great relationships and opportunities to grow. The Relate Institute advises singles to not have a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality, among other things.

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Tip #6: Develop Your Sense of Self-Awareness and Self-Compassion

Dating can cause one to question one’s identity and value. It is important to cultivate self-awareness and self-compassion, since research shows that these practices can help in alleviating depression, and mediating shame, avoidance, self-criticism, or irrational beliefs. Among other strategies for such cultivation, psychology student Olivia Thompson advises practicing informal mindfulness in everyday life. Be a nonjudgmental observer of the present moment. Try to refrain from making quick value judgements. Periodically take a few conscious, deep breaths.

Dating is cardinal, yet very tricky. It can be done successfully, though, with help.

 

How can You Help Kids Learn about Healthy Living?

Anatomy AcademyAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of American children are obese. As obesity can lead to a plethora of health problems, the prevalence of it is a serious problem. BYU Neuroscience professor Jonathan Wisco recognized this and founded the Anatomy Academy to combat the nationwide epidemic by teaching children about healthy living.

 

 

 

What is it?


The program recruits BYU students to go visit local fifth and sixth grade classes to teach the kids about healthy living. “You’re teaching all these young kids how to take care of themselves so that they can be healthy in the future, and they won’t have to go to the hospital,” said former BYU student and Academy mentor Janeen Williamson.

Dr. Wisco, in an interview with KBYU Radio’s Top of Mind host Julie Rose, said that some of the activities the mentors and middle schoolers do are:

  • Measuring out the amount of sugar in foods, especially drinks, so that the kids can see how much sugar they’re really consuming
  • Studying a cow heart to gain an increased understanding of how the organ works
  • Playacting as blood cells to better comprehend how the heart functions
  • Inflating cow lungs with a straw

anatomy academyBy having students engage in hands-on activities, Dr. Wisco believes that they will learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. And they seem to be getting the message. A mother of one his students received a call from her son’s camp leader. While on a camping trip, her son would not sit next to the fire because he didn’t want to inhale the smoke. “It was a little extreme, but he clearly got the message,” said Dr. Wisco.

Origins

How did Anatomy Academy begin? While Wisco was employed at UCLA’s medical school, he and other faculty members were “looking for an impactful way to help our medical students translate complicated medical information to a population that’s often ignored. And those are junior high students.” While there are programs and classes for high school students, very little was being done for those in middle school and junior high. Anatomy Academy was introduced to a school in the area, eventually spreading to Utah when Dr. Wisco became a professor at BYU. Since then, it has “just exploded.” Through word of mouth, it has spread to a profusion of states.

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have,” said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Through his Anatomy Academy, he is giving the rising generation invaluable instruction about how to live a healthy lifestyle.

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What tips or healthy recipes have helped you or your kids lead healthier lifestyles?

 

How to Actually Help Your Kids Develop Empathy?

Ninety-six percent of parents consider it “very important, if not essential” that their children have “strong moral character,” according to a 2012 study done by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, but only 20% of youth actually prioritized caring above achievement and personal happiness, in a 2014 Harvard study. Parents and students BYU industrial design student Alison Brand and sociology student Marissa Getts recently spoke in a 2017 BYU TED talk about the importance of cultivating empathy in youth, which parents seem to understand, and effective ways to do so, which they might need assistance implementing to help children better overcome what may be seen as the natural selfishness of youth. “By actively and deliberately cultivating empathy in young people,” they said, “we empower them to create positive change in their communities and in the world.”

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What is empathy? Getts defines it as the ability of one person to step into another’s shoes, imagine what they are feeling, and feel it with them. What would happen if no one possessed empathy? “Self-interest would reign. Anger, aggression, bullying would be more common than not. And we wouldn’t try to understand what people were feeling and think,” said Brand. Such actions could have a deleterious effect on one’s relationships from childhood to the relationships between countries.

By contrast, an empathetic world “is a world filled with kindness and compassion.” In it, people would be able to have positive interactions with both close friends and strangers.

Fostering Empathy

How does one foster empathy? Getts and Brand recently interviewed young change-makers between the ages of 13-20 who were engaged in empathetic social innovation. Their projects included the construction of a Braille printer from Legos and the successful creation and implementation of an anti-bullying program in their school. They found that each of these children got to where they were through three milestones: 

  • Spark: “an experience or something they learned that made them feel deep empathy for a person or a problem” 
  • Action: this experience so impacted the children that they took action
  • Validation: adults validated them, which helped them take their actions or projects further. “It was only because the adults in their lives didn’t snuff out their flame that they were able to accomplish such great things,” said Brand.

 In each of the interviews, the youth cited the importance of their parents’ support. Furthermore, Getts and Brand reported that nearly all of the youth said that their parents initially said no to their project ideas but amended their answer after the child persisted or that they were surprised when their parents were in favor of their idea. “Somehow, parents have become either a real barrier or a perceived barrier to a child developing empathy and creating positive social change off of that,” explained Getts.

How does one rectify that? The speakers offered the following suggestions: pexels-photo-355948

  • Foster an environment for ‘sparking.’ Help children meet new people and have new, foreign experiences
  • Encourage exploratory action. “It’s crucial that we step back and let these youth take appropriate risks. We need to teach them that learning, not perfect execution, is success,” said Brand.
  • Provide positive validation wherever possible. Whether it’s feedback or money, any form of validation can help a child pursue their idea and go further than anyone might expect.

Men build too many walls and not enough bridges,” said Joseph Fort Newton. This can be redressed by fostering empathy in youth. By allowing them to spark and take action, while offering affirmation, we enable them to feel with and for others and therefore change the world.

What are your ideas for fostering empathy in kids?