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(209) What the Heck is a "Family Culture" and Why is it Important?

In this podcast episode, Sara Olsher talks to Danielle Bettmann about family culture and values.

The conversation covers:

  • Family culture and values as a protective factor for kids' mental health;
  • The Family Business Plan, developed by Danielle Bettmann, which is modeled after writing a business plan for a company;
  • The value in establishing clear communication, structure, and a shared vision and goals in a family;
  • Creating a sense of belonging, and how this is key to helping kids feel valued and important in the family, contributing to their overall well-being.

Sara Olsher: Hello, friends. Welcome back to the Raising Resilience podcast. My name is Sara. I am the founder of Mighty and Bright, and I am here talking with Danielle Bettmann, who is our parent support coordinator for the Raising Resilience Program and is a parenting coach at Parent Wholeheartedly. She is brilliant and today we are talking about something that Danielle really —I mean, she just like super, super rocks at — which is talking about family, culture and values. And, you know, we're talking about some of the protective factors that help prevent mental health crises in kids. And the research shows that having strong family values and norms and just a strong family culture is a protective factor for kids. And so that's why it is month nine in the Raising Resilience program, and that's why we're talking about it today. Hello, Danielle.

Danielle Bettmann: Hi. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

Sara Olsher: Me too. So, Danielle, why don't you kind of start by talking about how you help families with this, like when you're working with them, like on a one on one basis? Yeah.

Danielle Bettmann: Yeah. So one of the first things I developed with my one on one parent coaching clients is the process of writing a family business plan. And I modeled this after writing my business plan for my company because I just realized, what if we took that same intentionality that we brought to work [00:01:30] home, and what would it do for us if we were able to have structure, to have a vision and end goals that we're all striving for, and a structure to set us up for success, like family meetings so that we could have clear communication across the board. And what if we looked at the best practices of leadership and reflected on how parenting is the most important form of leadership? And what does that look like in more of a corporate realm? And how could [00:02:00] we take some of that perspective home? So I created these conversational exercises to take my clients through, and a lot of it was getting clear on their values and their culture inside their home and their end goals and just kind of their norms. And it all culminates in like a mission statement and they write an agreement that's kind of their code of ethics, and it all is prompts that helps them have conversations they just wouldn't have had otherwise. That brings a [00:02:30] new sense of energy and clarity to what they're trying to do and what matters to them as parents and as a family and the support to actually put those things into their day to day where their main things are, their main things.

Danielle Bettmann: And unfortunately in life as as families in this day and age, the best intentions don't bring that to reality. We have responding to too many urgent things. Our life is too busy to be able to hit pause and zoom out and truly put the [00:03:00] thought into this that we would love to, unless we have things that provide that sense of activity in front of us and we can really carve out the time to do it. So one of the elements of that is the values that each family has that are different from the family next door. And the only way that you can sort through those sometimes is to circle star read through what examples there even are, because [00:03:30] your brain is not just going to bring them to light of like, well, the cornerstone of my life is whatever If you if you just had kids two years ago and you have a like a three and a two year old or you've just been like running with your head like a chicken with their head cut off since you became a parent, you probably haven't taken the time to sit down and do this, and that is your normal. So instead it's being able to have something that puts a tool in front of you so that [00:04:00] you can start to identify what is important to our family.

Danielle Bettmann: And how is it different than our neighbors or our best friends. And neither one of them are bad nor good. They are just us. And when we can get clear about who we are and kind of what the standard is in our four walls in our home, then that creates a really strong sense of belonging for the people that live here. Because in any corporate setting, the [00:04:30] culture of the workforce is a lot of times determined by the intentionality that the company puts into their morale and being able to be really responsive to the needs of the people and helping them see the why behind what they're doing and just being able to really champion them for being the boots on the ground. We want to do that too, as parents. So one of the things that we can do to be really clear about that is to help our kids identify in our family. We value blank. [00:05:00] And you are also a really key contributor in our home and your voice matters and you are needed when you're not at a dinner table, you are missed. Creating that sense of belonging is super powerful, and that's something that we can do with this family culture piece.

Sara Olsher: Yeah, I think that that part of creating that sense of belonging is key because it's not like [00:05:30] this idea of creating a family like values list. It can feel kind of like, I don't know if that's really a must do sort of thing, but we all want our kids to feel a sense of belonging in our families. And it does not matter the size of your family. I in my house, it is just me and my daughter all the time and our cats. And it does not matter because we still have [00:06:00] values. There don't need to be eight of you to have a strong family culture. In our family, we value art. We value time together, we value being silly, We value, you know, all these things that make us different than the family down the street. They may value cooking together. My daughter and I just value eating together. We don't care. And so [00:06:30] and and to feel that there are strong reasons and you are part of a group that and and that that that group has a strong feeling or strong values is a feeling of belonging that is I mean, it's fundamental to our identity. And when we name that, when we name what makes us different and special, you [00:07:00] know, there's a sense of pride associated with that and yes, a sense of roots that your child may not have recognized earlier, because sometimes we just need to call attention to things, you know, like we all know what our values are when we think about them. But how often do we think about them? How often do we name them? And that sense of of strong roots happens when we call attention to those things.

Danielle Bettmann: Yes. And and [00:07:30] to add on to the belonging piece, it's not the belonging that we all craved for in middle school of fitting in, you know, of like assimilating enough to be accepted as part of the group. It's much more it's much bigger than that. In a family, we have the opportunity to provide an identity of something bigger than us that is on a mission to either make a difference in the world or to have a certain code of ethics of how we treat others or [00:08:00] provide an impact in some way, or to be a part of really fun things or go on adventures or whatever that looks like for your family. Every piece of that family contributes to that identity, and they not only fit in, but they are celebrated and accepted for who they are and seen for that and and known for who they are and that they don't have to hide any part of who they are [00:08:30] to be a part of that identity. And I think that that's what's unique to the family culture versus an organization culture, because when you are truly known by your family, that that that's just such a strong sense of like stability and and self concept that you get to ground into love that.

Sara Olsher: So I just I love this conversation so much. I love this idea so much. I think [00:09:00] until I read this research and this the how important this is for a child's mental health, it did not occur to me that this was something that I should be prioritizing and prioritizing. It is not like an ongoing like every day we have to talk about our family values sort of thing. So you can really just it really backs you up with the reasons why you're choosing to do certain [00:09:30] things and not do others. Like, you know, for my daughter and I, we recently reevaluated our values regarding the holiday season. And, you know, because we previously had done a whole bunch of these activities and since cancer, it's been really overstimulating to me. And I really wanted to talk to her about, you know, what is she value about this season, what [00:10:00] is important to her, And to be able to have that baseline means that we are a family that doesn't value pumpkin patches anymore. And so we don't go and say, that's okay to say. And it's and it's not. Then I didn't feel guilty about not participating in these things that I was telling myself a story about. You know, I am a terrible mother if I don't create these [00:10:30] family memories that it turns out. Not only did I not value it, but it turns out my kid didn't value it either. Or why are we doing it? Yeah, great point. What could we do instead? That is a match for our values and the things that we care about.

Danielle Bettmann: Mm hmm. And sometimes we just don't know until we try. And that's where, you know, you go to the pumpkin patch, because that's what everyone else is doing and then realize, Oh, this is a terrible time.

Sara Olsher: And you don't [00:11:00] like this.

Danielle Bettmann: And then, you know, okay, now we know, you know, and like or maybe you had expectations of the family you thought you would be. And then now you have the kids that you have. And their personalities are also not a match for the things that you would have thought you were doing together. And so then you need to reevaluate and create a better fit for the personalities that you are parenting or the people that are inside your home. And maybe there's some give and take there. There's some [00:11:30] collaboration, and maybe they open up your world into a whole new realm or both. My kids are really into music lessons, so recitals and things are a part of our life that that was not part of my childhood or something I would have planned for. But it's great. It's a whole new world that we get to explore with them. So there's there's no right or wrong for sure.

Sara Olsher: Yeah, I think this is one of those situations where diversity is celebrating the things that are different [00:12:00] and that there's no right or wrong anything. It's just different. And that's awesome because that's what makes the world interesting, that that's what makes it fun. I remember being a kid and going to my friend Aaron's house for dinner, and the way that her family ate broccoli was totally different than the way that my family ate broccoli. And so I came home and told my parents how their family ate broccoli. And now, 30 years later, we still eat broccoli [00:12:30] that way. What a glorious example of learning from differences. And I love it. Yes. Yes. You're talking about the.

Danielle Bettmann: Core values is like authenticity being yourself. That's a that's a huge part of our family's values. And that comes out almost every day by the power I give them to express themselves with their clothing and some of the ways that they [00:13:00] just have that control that I want to be a student of them. I want to learn who they are as they go and for them to be celebrated as they figure it out. So I think that they are very simple values, but they can mean very, very deep things over time as they're internalized and really exemplified.

Sara Olsher: Yeah, love that. Well, thank you for talking today about this, Danielle, and thank you for being [00:13:30] here. Listeners, if you have any questions about this topic or want us to talk about it more, feel free to ask us a question. You can visit Mighty and Bright podcast and click on the button that says Ask a question and we will answer it. So thanks so much and we will chat with you next time.