2018 Cutler Lecture recap: Addressing the universal need for love and security

BYU Marriage and Family Therapy professor Jonathan Sandberg’s thought-provoking Cutler Lecture can be encapsulated in a simple scene from Winnie the Pooh:

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

The need to feel connected and loved is a universal need.

Safe and secure relationships form when individuals in the relationship are responsive to and accessible by the other individual. The isolation created by taking away this accessibility and responsiveness is traumatizing.

In a disconnected world, it is vital that we form and foster relationships where we truly see people and their needs and truly love them. Feeling loved and recognized gives us a secure base from which we can launch and explore other aspects of life.

Be vulnerable and seek out deep, meaningful and loving connections and relationships. Repair conflict in your relationships. Be hopeful in developing secure attachments and relationships with others–even if you have not experienced those relationships in the past. And find ways to be emotionally accessible, responsive and engaged with others on a daily basis.

People are in need of love and security and we are the ones who can help them.

For the full 2018 Cutler Lecture, watch the video below.

Passion for life, passion for others: 2018 Hickman lecture to teach the place for passion

Life is a constant search for balance.

Especially in religious living, it can be difficult to find a place for passion. But passion for what we love improves our minds and makes relationships beautiful.

At the 2018 Martin B. Hickman Lecture on Thursday, November 1 at 11 a.m. in 250 KMBL, BYU School of Family Life Professor Dean Busby will speak on how we can appropriately use passion to foster appreciation for life and loved ones in his lecture “The Place of Passion in Our Lives and Our Relationships.” The lecture is a free event and is open to the public.

Professor Busby has a Ph. D. in Family Therapy from Brigham Young University and taught Syracuse University and Texas Tech University before returning to BYU. Since his return, he has played a prominent role in the School of Family Life as the Graduate Coordinator of the Marriage, Family, and Human Development M.S. and Ph. D. programs, as well as the Director of the School of Family Life.

The lecture is in honor of Martin Berkeley Hickman, a BYU political science professor who served as the dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences from 1970-1986. He helped make possible the Women’s Research Institute, the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Family Studies Center. As for teaching, Hickman is recognized as the father of BYU’s American Heritage program. Hickman was renowned for his loyalty and dedication to his family, the Church, the college and BYU.

The Martin B. Hickman Scholar Award is given annually to recognize a notable college faculty who follows Hickman’s example of service and dedication.

2018 Cutler lecture: Securing marriage with (research-proven) attachment

Research and clinical experience not only tell us that a healthy, happy and passionate marriage is possible, it also shows us how to create it.

The School of Family Life 2018 Virginia F. Cutler Lecture will give you the knowledge and resources to do this within your own family and home.

On Wednesday, October 17, BYU Marriage and Family Therapy professor Jonathan Sandberg will give his lecture “Secure Attachments: The key to a happy, healthy, and passionate marriage” that will highlight current research on adult attachment and romantic relationships. More specifically, Sandberg will review actionable behaviors that we can adopt to promote attachment—a key factor that leads to safety and security in marriage.

Our society may spread the message that having a happy and healthy family is no longer an option, but science says otherwise. You can choose–and act–to have a healthy, happy and passionate marriage.

Learn how to strengthen your marriage and family at the 55th annual Virginia F. Cutler Lecture on Wednesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. in 151 N. Eldon Tanner Building. The event is free and open to the public.

This lecture series is named after Virginia F. Cutler, former dean of the College of Family Living (now the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences). Dr. Cutler spent her entire life educating people on the home and family. She also cared deeply about women and people in other nations, and her career took her across the globe as she served people in Thailand, Indonesia and Ghana.

Preparing with hope: 2018-2019 Families at Risk lecture series

We aren’t meant to be alone, and in a world continually changing, Families at Risk reminds us what the core of life is: our families. An upcoming series of lectures powerfully advocates effective communication, healthy sexuality, mental health awareness and more.

The Families at Risk lecture series is held every second Wednesday of the month for nine months, beginning on October 10th, 2018. Classes start at 7 am and last for about two hours. Prices vary from $10 to $25 depending on the class, and all lectures are held at the BYU Conference Center.

From parenting kids with behavioral concerns, helping children transition to adulthood, and building healthy relationships in all stages of life, BYU Continuing Education offers advice and techniques for you and those you care for.

With such a diverse range of subjects, you may register for only the topics which are most useful and compelling to you and your family.

In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy asserted, “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” No family’s trials are the same, and yet they can all be reconciled through Christ. His hands are outstretched, offering hope and healing. The best thing we can do to build lasting, beautiful relationships with those who mean the most is to learn and grow together.

Registration is available in multiple convenient ways: over the phone (877-221-6716 weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays), by mail (Families at Risk Registration 229 HCEB 770 E University Pkwy Provo UT 84602), in person at 116 HCEB 770 E University Pkwy, or online at familiesatrisk.ce.byu.edu, where a full schedule and additional details are also posted.

Growing together: The importance of consistent sexual communication in families

Patting yourself on the back for gritting through “the talk” with your kid? Not so fast: new research from BYU family life professor Laura Padilla-Walker suggests that when it comes to your teens, one vague and generic conversation about sex is not enough.

In her study, just released in top-ranked Journal of Adolescent Health, Padilla-Walker found that ongoing communication about sex between parents and their adolescent children benefits the parent-child relationship and leads to safer sexual activity at age 21.

“Our current culture is highly sexualized, so children are learning about sexuality in a fragmented way from an early age,” said Padilla-Walker, who has been publishing in top family science journals for nearly two decades. “Research suggests that parents can be an effective means of teaching their children about sexuality in a developmentally appropriate manner, but that does not occur if parents only have a single, uncomfortable, often one-sided talk.”

Padilla-Walker evaluated parent-child communication among 468 14- to 18-year-olds and their mothers, plus 311 of their fathers. She contacted participating families every summer for 10 years and evaluated their level of sexual communication.

Each summer, participants responded to a four-item measure assessing parent-child communication about sexuality and avoiding sexual risk.

The study found that both teens and their parents reported relatively low levels of sexual communication, though teens reported even lower levels than their parents did. Those levels, for the most part, stayed constant.

“Whether or not parents think they are talking about sexuality often, children are generally reporting low levels of communication,” said Padilla-Walker. “So parents need to increase sex communication even if they feel they are doing an adequate job.”

An increase in sexual communication between parents and children, she found, can help adolescents feel safe going to their parents with questions and concerns. She also found that ongoing sexual communication resulted in safer sexual activity at 21, a finding that should increase the urgency parents feel to have conversations with their children.

Even if parents don’t anticipate that their children will be sexually active before marriage, said Padilla-Walker, “all children are developing sexually and need continuous and high-quality communication with parents about the feelings they are experiencing.”

Moving forward, Padilla-Walker hopes to explore the quality of conversations parents have with their kids about sex, specifically whether parents are being open and approachable or are using fear tactics and negativity.

“I would like to see an upward trajectory of parent-child communication as children age,” she said. “Parents should talk frequently with their children about many aspects of sexuality in a way that helps the child to feel comfortable and heard, but never shamed.”

– Jayne Edwards, University Communications

Spring/Summer Valedictorians: Changing the world a cap and gown at a time

With the end of the spring/summer terms comes another inspiring graduating class of Cougars.

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences boasts some of the best and brightest of the more than 30,000 students who walk across campus each year. This graduation, we celebrate the almost 400 FHSS graduates and their studies, efforts and experiences that are helping families, individuals and communities thrive. From Orem, Utah, to Tokyo, Japan, our graduates act as forces for good across the county and world.

Check out these adventurous, ambitious, and world-changing valedictorians:

Alexander Baxter PictureAlexander Baxter, a psychology major, loves studying monkeys. As a sophomore, Alexander started working in Dr. Dee Higley’s nonhuman primate research lab. In conjunction with Dr. Daniel Kay, he studied mother-infant attachment and infant sleep development. Alexander went on a summer internship to the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis. While there, he collected data for his own project of studying prenatal testosterone exposure. He loved the experience so much that he spent the rest of his time at BYU in Dr. Higley’s lab, and went on the internship two more times to collect data. Alexander presented his research with Dr. Higley at four professional conferences, six undergraduate research conferences, and published two first-authored research papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition to studying attachment and social relationships in monkeys, Alexander also studied similar topics regarding humans, under the mentorship of Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Through the connections he made on his internship, Alexander was accepted into the biological psychology PhD program at UC Davis, and will continue doing research at the Primate Center. He is grateful for Elizabeth Wood, his lab manager and friend, and for Dr. Higley, his mentor. He will always remember Dr. Higley’s most important lesson: the people you work with are more important than the data they help you collect.

Berklee Baum PictureBerklee Annell Baum is a teaching social science major with minors in both history and teaching English as a second language. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a mission in Los Angeles, California. Berklee has always had a passion for learning about history and culture. During her education at BYU, she participated in a social work internship in Italy and was able to do historical research in Germany, Poland, and Austria. She was a member of Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, which gave her

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The Family That Prays Together . . . Feels Connected, Unified, Bonded with Less Relational Tension

In a recently-published study in the Journal of Family Psychology, BYU researchers explored how family prayer influences family relationships, finding a connection between prayer and a number of benefits for families.

The 198 Christian, Jewish and Muslim families in the study lived in 17 different states and represented eight religious/ethnic faith communities. Family members were asked questions such as “Does your relationship with God influence your family relationships?,” “How does your family overcome major stresses and problems?” and “How do you share your faith with your children?”

None of the questions actually included the word prayer, but while coding the interviews, the researchers found 96 percent of the families referenced prayer in their responses, with 3,868 references in their interviews in total. The references were sorted into various categories.

“Many families loved to pray together, and it was the most important practice in their daily lives,” said Joe Chelladurai, BYU PhD student in the School of Family Life and lead author of the study. “As a family ritual, it was more than just putting up with the experience and getting through it. Family prayer provided sacred time and space to connect with God and with each other. It was a time of togetherness and interaction and a space to express love and concern for each other.”

Some of the themes from participants’ responses, listed in the results of the study included:

  • Family prayer as a means for continuing family religious traditions
  • Family prayer involves issues and concerns of individuals and the family
  • Family prayer provides feelings of connectedness, unity and bonding
  • Family prayer helps reduce relational tensions

Continuing family regligious traditions

In the interviews, parents indicated their eagerness to instill meaning and a sense of ritual to prayer. It was important to them to pass this on to their children. Children reported that they learned to pray through their parents’ examples. It was evident that a flow of religious direction and communication was occurring during this time. Family prayer was a practice, but also a means to transmit faith.

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New SFL director Dr. Hawkins: Strengthening families by strengthening students

Recently appointed School of Family Life Director Dr. Allen Hawkins will miss teaching and researching, but he is excited for the opportunity to serve and bless the lives of SFL students and faculty.

“For 30 years I’ve been focused on my own research and career, so I’m looking forward to helping others more than focusing on myself.”

A personal focus on the family

While Hawkins began his career studying organizational behavior, he soon found a love for the field of family life.

“At first, I was drawn to the study of children and fathers and the importance of fathers in children’s lives and the importance of children in fathers’ and men’s lives. That’s what drew me in. But the number of questions, problems and issues in this field are so big, so many, so important, and so dynamic, it wasn’t hard to get me hooked really fast.”

Since then, Hawkins has studied many aspects of families and the relationships and marriages that form them. His dedication and focus on the family is marked by his extensive research and service activity (he currently serves as the co-chair of the Utah Marriage Council).

A set vision

The appointment to school director comes with a lot of changes. As Hawkins takes on a more administrative role in the school, he’ll have the opportunity to focus more specifically on the school’s faculty and students.

“I feel a pretty keen responsibility,” shares Hawkins. “I think the School of Family Life plays such an important role in students’ lives, and I think we can be a unique contributor to BYU and its mission, as well as the church’s mission.”

Moving forward, Hawkins is grateful for the decisions and set vision that Dean Barley established during his time as director.

“I’m deeply appreciative that he was able to tackle and resolve difficult issues. And now we’re just moving forward. I think we’re going to maintain a lot of the good direction that Dean has set,” says Hawkins. “I’m also looking forward to others’ input on how we can keep moving forward and improving to meet the changing dynamics of (faculty and students) and public scholarship.”

As for Hawkins’ larger vision for the school, he shares that “the vision is already set—to bless students’ lives so that they can be a light on the hill in terms of their own family lives and so that they can…help to strengthen families wherever they go. That vision continues, but we’ve also got new challenges and new students to be aware of.”

“We do really good work here, and we’re doing work in an area where the need for quality research and scholarship is so needed yet is receiving much less attention. Particularly around marriage, I think we make a really great contribution to the field and to society as well.”

Good luck, Dr. Hawkins as you embark on the next journey in your career and service at BYU!

FHSS Faculty Recognized by the BYU Faculty Women’s Association

The BYU Faculty Women’s Association, which seeks to improve the quality of professional life for faculty women at BYU, honored five women last week for their contributions to BYU. Two of these outstanding women are from our college!

Mentoring Award
Angela B. Bradford
Family Life

Dr. Bradford has chaired over 10 doctoral and master’s students, and has served on around 25 dissertation and thesis committees. Dr. Bradford supervises students on two projects she is co-leading related to family therapy clinical process research and physiology.

bradford

Citizenship Award
Mikaela J. Dufur
Sociology

Dr. Dufur’s work in the College of Family, Home, and Social Science has had a significant impact on changes made within the department. She shapes the experience of women on campus through various leadership assignments, including serving on the University Athletic Advisory Council. Most recently, she spoke about the importance of mentoring and holding open doors for people.

dufur

Other BYU Faculty Women’s Association award winners were Gaye L. Ray, Nursing; Bonnie Anderson, Information Systems; and Jill Larsen, English.

Congratulations, Dr. Bradford and Dr. Dufur!

FHSS Valedictorians: Setting the Curve

BYU is famous for many things: Cosmo the Cougar, being ranked the number 1 “Stone Cold Sober” school 20 years running, and our awesome chocolate milk. Our amazing graduates however, trump all. The graduating class this year is one of the school’s biggest, which the majority of the females being returned missionaries.  From undergraduate research in Thailand to managing a neuroscience lab, FHSS boasts some of the most accomplished graduates. Check out our incredible valedictorians:

Boone Robins Christianson, of Provo, had no idea what anthropology was when he declared it as a major his freshman year. He wants to thank his parents Marlin and LaDonn for supporting him even though they were equally confused about what he could do with the degree. Throughout his time at BYU, Boone has spent the majority of his studies researching African agricultural development, including conducting research in Malawi and Namibia. In addition, he speaks Otjiherero, a rare language spoken by small groups of people from those countries. Despite his successes in anthropology, Boone has decided to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and will begin his pursuit of this degree at Auburn University in Alabama this upcoming fall. Boone has enjoyed being involved in intermural sports, the Diction Club, and being an active participant in his LDS campus wards. He loves spending long hours playing Boggle and eating cereal.

boone baby

John Frederick Bonney, an economics major, is the son of Philip and Georgia Bonney. He grew up in the US, Senegal, and Italy, and served a mission in the Netherlands. John has thoroughly enjoyed working with faculty at BYU, performing research in areas including behavioral, educational, and familial economics and teaching other students about applied econometric research. He is grateful to the economics faculty for their stellar instruction and would specifically like to thank Drs. Lars Lefgren, Joe Price, and James Cardon for allowing him to enhance his learning through research and teaching assistantships. While attending BYU, John has also completed four internships during which he designed market research and forecasted models currently in use by multiple Fortune 500 companies. Within the community, John has enjoyed serving through educational organizations like Alpha and Project Read. John is happily married to Amanda Bonney, who is graduating with a Master of Accountancy. After graduating, John will continue his passion for economic research as a pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago.

JohnBonney_headshot

Grayson Morgan, a geography major with a geospatial science and technology emphasis, is the second child born to Daniel and Michelle Morgan and grew up in Beaufort, South Carolina. Geography has surrounded him his whole life, but it wasn’t until his freshman year that he realized that it was exactly what he wanted to do. During his short time at BYU, Grayson has come to thoroughly enjoy his encounters with the various Geography Department Professors, secretaries, TAs, and fellow students. Certainly, much of his learning could not have taken place without their generous help and overwhelming kindness. His family means the world to him and he would like to thank his wife, parents, siblings, and extended family for their support. Grayson loves serving others, BYU sports, playing with his two-month-old daughter, and learning new things. He is excited to continue learning this fall as he begins a master’s degree and eventual PhD program in Global Information Systems/Remote Sensing at the University of South Carolina.

Morgan

Kaytlin Fay Anne Nalder, a history teaching major, grew up in Alberta, Canada. She is the sixth of seven children born to Byron and Deanne Nalder. Her love for history began in high school, but it wasn’t until she came to BYU that she considered majoring in it. While at BYU, Kaytlin was able to work as both a teaching and research assistant for Dr. Underwood, a job which was one of the highlights of her undergraduate experience. She was also the recipient of two history paper awards including the De Lamar and Mary Jensen Student Paper Award in European History and the Carol Cornwall Madsen Student Paper Award in Women’s History. Kaytlin enjoys skiing, reading, cooking, crocheting, and spending time with family and friends. She would like to thank all of the wonderful mentors and professors she was privileged to work with during her time at BYU, as well as her family and friends for their support and encouragement.

Nalder Picture

Marissa Skinner, a family life major with an emphasis in Human Development, is the daughter of Terry and Lottie Anderson. Although she grew up in Salt Lake City, she is a Cougar fan through and through. She discovered her passion for human development simply by taking a general class and has been hooked ever since. During her time at BYU, she served as a council member for Y-Serve, served a mission in the Philippines, and worked closely with many professors to conduct research projects regarding the topics of gender-socialization and moral development. Marissa also conducted two research projects that she presented at conferences on campus. She is so excited to implement what she has learned in her program and hopes she can make a difference because of it. She would like to thank her husband, family, and faculty members for pushing her out of her comfort zone and helping her reach her goals.

Marissa Skinner

Reed Lynn Rasband, a political science major, is the son of Kevin Rasband and Heather Watts and is the oldest of eight children. He grew up raising sheep in Brigham City, Utah and served a mission in Rancagua, Chile. As an undergraduate, he was able to carry out research for his Honors thesis in Thailand, additional research in the United Kingdom, and an internship with a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. He worked for four years as a teaching and research assistant in the Political Science department. He has also served as the President of the BYU Political Affairs Society, as Editor-in-Chief for the undergraduate journal Sigma, and as a volunteer with two organizations serving the Utah County Latino community. This fall, he will begin work on a Ph.D. in political science, focusing on ethnic and migration politics in the hopes of finding ways to improve intergroup relations around the globe. He is incredibly grateful for the continuing support his family provides him, as well as for the excellent mentorship he has received from BYU faculty.

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Charlotte Esplin, a psychology major with a clinical emphasis, grew up in Basildon, Essex, UK. After serving a mission in the Utah St. George Temple Visitors’ Center, Charlotte came to BYU. The first to attend a university in her family, Charlotte has embraced academics and all that a university life has had to offer.  While at BYU, Charlotte has worked as a teaching assistant for multiple psychology classes, and has performed quantitative research into how personality variables affect marital outcomes with Dr. Scott Braithwaite. This research has resulted in various articles,

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