Search Results for: facts for living

Facts for Living: Are we from the same planet?

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, I’m sure you’ve heard that statement before or you may have even read the book by John Gray, Ph.D. It’s true that men and women 080714-facts-for-living1communicate differently; in fact some people believe that they are so different that they come from different planets. However, it’s important to remember that we are more alike than different. Nonetheless, women and men have been found to interpret the same message differently, and these differences can cause major conflicts.

Studies have shown that women, more frequently than men, emphasize the similarities between themselves and others, and try to make decisions that make everyone happy. Women tend to be the relationship specialists and are typically the experts in “rapport talk” – the type of communication that builds, maintains, and strengthens relationships. Rapport talk reflects skills of talking, nurturing, emotional expression, empathy and support.

Men tend to emphasize the differences between themselves and others, and oftentimes make decisions based on their personal needs or desires. They are the task accomplishment specialists and talk the “report talk”, which refers to the types of communication that analyzes issues and solves problems. Men seem to be more attentive to issues of independence and competition, and report talk reflects skills of being competitive, lacking sentimentality, analyzing, and focusing aggressively on task accomplishment.

Facts for Living: What you heard vs. what I said

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

Healthy relationships thrive in an atmosphere where each person feels comfortable talking openly and honestly about important issues. In this way, minor issues can be talked about before they become big issues that can damage the relationship.080714-facts-for-living1 Couples who have lived together for many years may think they know everything about their partner that there is to know. But, you change over time. Unless couples intentionally and continually share, your partner may have no idea how you have changed in your thinking and your reactions to the world around you.

Sometimes the hardest part of communicating is hearing what is actually said. Misunderstanding the meaning behind your partner’s message often leads to an argument. When what you say, or maybe intended to say, is not the same as what your partner heard, then a filter is at work. Filters affect what we hear and say as well as how we interpret the conversation.

Facts for Living: Love for a lifetime

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

What are you doing to keep your love strong for a lifetime? Because of busy lifestyles, many couples may not think about practicing or expressing love on a daily basis. 080714-facts-for-living1You may say “I love you” to your spouse frequently, but have you stopped to think about what those three words mean? Love can be a noun, as in an object of devotion, attachment and admiration. It can also be a verb – actions associated with passion, desire and devotion. There are times when love is romantic and full of pleasure, and other times it is merely unselfish loyalty and shared interests.

So what can a couple do to ensure that their marriage has every opportunity to succeed?

Facts for Living: Great expectations! Have you discussed them?

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

Expectations, whether minor things or common issues, play a crucial role in how happy a marriage will be. When expectations are unstated, unreasonable, or unmet, this can become a source of major conflict in the relationship. No matter how big or small the issue, we shouldn’t assume our partner will “just know” what we expect. Remember, he or she can’t read your mind. Expectations need to be shared and discussed.

080714-facts-for-living1We develop our expectations from what we have seen, heard, experienced in our family of origin (parents, grandparents), our previous relationships and marriages (friendships, dating partners, prior marriages), and our culture (media, religion, ethnic background). We soak up images of marital and family life and learn how couples should act in a marriage. Some expectations are so engrained that we don’t even realize it.

Facts for Living: Marriage is a promise to work!

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

Many people go in to marriage thinking that the person they married makes them “happy” and that it will be always be that way. Remember, happy is an emotion, and our emotions change day to day and even throughout the day. The illusion about living happily ever after is a comforting thought, but for long-term happiness or contentment, each partner must consider the commitment that they have made to their spouse.

080714-facts-for-living1Marriage isn’t just about being in love, although far too many people think that is what sustains a marriage. Marriage is about the commitment and agreement to love and support one another – even when you don’t “feel” like it. Love should be an active verb and is about a person’s ability to love their spouse. One of the advantages of marriage is that when you fall out of love with your partner, your marriage commitment keeps you together until you fall in love again.

Marriage is not designed to make you happy. It is supposed to keep you focused on your commitment to your partner for life. For better or worse. It gives you the structure, support and security from which you and your partner are free to create happiness.

Facts for Living: Before you say “I do”

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

May through October are the most popular months for weddings. While many couples spend countless hours planning and preparing for the wedding, my hope is that they spend just as many hours preparing for their marriage. But, before making a lifetime commitment, it’s important to know as much about your partner, as well as yourself, as possible. It is a myth to think “love” is going to sustain your marriage.

080714-facts-for-living1How do you know if a person is compatible as a lifelong partner and what does it take to get to know someone? Think the three “T’s” – time, talk and togetherness. It takes TIME to really get to know a person. It takes TALKING to know what you have in common, to know how you both think and feel, and to know how you handle disagreements. It also takes enough experiences TOGETHER in different situations to see how a person acts with you and others. It’s important to see how he treats others and behaves in different situations, such as with family, friends at school, and how he handles other kinds of responsibilities.

Facts for Living: Celebrate our youngest learners during Week of the Young Child

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

“Celebrating Our Youngest Learners” is the theme for the 2016 Week of the Young Child, April 10-16. The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families.

080714-facts-for-living1Focusing on early childhood development and supporting parents and families is important. New scientific research shows that environmental influences can actually affect whether and how genes are expressed. Thus, the old ideas that genes are set in stone or that they alone determine development have been disproven. In fact, scientists have discovered that early experiences can determine how genes are turned on and off and even whether some are expressed at all. Therefore, the experiences children have early in life – and the environments in which they have them – shape their developing brain architecture and strongly affect whether they grow up to be healthy, productive members of society.

Facts for Living: Address the hidden issues behind an argument

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

In my last article about communication challenges and developing skills to address the challenges, I included information about complaining the right way.

080714-facts-for-living1Many of our arguments start over something small. Something just pushes our button and sets us off, like a volcano. Even though the argument started over something small, under the surface there is sometimes a lot more going on. Many people have problem areas or issues with people whom they are really close to. But, most people aren’t very good about sitting down and talking through their issues with one another. Instead, something happens that leads to a deeper argument. The problem or deeper issue you’ve never really addressed very well has been generating heat and pressure under the surface. It doesn’t take much for the volcano to erupt. Some problems or issues under the surface might be:

Facts for Living: Complaining the right way

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

080714-facts-for-living1Have you been practicing the speaker-listener technique? Previously, I shared the importance of using the speaker-listener technique after a time-out for sensitive or conflict-ridden issues. The next important communication skill to learn and develop is effective ways to raise issues and complaints. You’re probably thinking, “Complaining is okay to do and you can do it effectively?”

Yes, but first, let’s start with some common, ineffective ways to complain:

Mind-reading – assumes you know what the other person is thinking, what he or she intended, or why he or she did something. People hate to be told what they are thinking. Common statements such as, “You don’t care at all about my feelings” and “you just did that on purpose to get back because you are still angry about yesterday” are some examples.

Name-calling – occurs when you attack someone’s character, instead of focusing on a specific behavior that bothers you. “You’re so irresponsible. You’re such a jerk!” versus, “I’m really upset, you didn’t follow through with finishing the laundry when you promised you would.”

Facts for Living: Make it a win-win conversation

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

In my last article about communication and healthy relationships, I discussed the importance of taking a time out during a heated conversation to avoid using our “angry brains” instead of our “rationale, thinking brains” to handle conflict and communicate.

080714-facts-for-living1Once you’ve taken a time out and are back to your “calm, thinking brain” you can begin using the speaker-listener technique to talk through a problem or issue. The speaker-listener technique is simple; one person speaks while the other listens. It sounds simple, but our natural reaction is to think about our response, interrupt and disagree. We don’t truly listen. Listening means to hear what the speaker is saying well enough to be able to paraphrase what he or she said. Paraphrasing means to put what you heard in your own words. It feels unnatural and slow, but it’s the only way to ensure the listener is effectively listening and not distracted by thinking about his response.

Facts for Living: Take a time out!

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agent

Previously, I shared information about how negative communication patterns and interactions can erode relationships. As a reminder, communication danger signs include: put-downs or invalidation; withdrawal or avoidance, negative interpretation and escalation. These four danger signs are common, we all do them. But when we do them too much and they become the main pattern of interaction, they are likely to slowly poison a relationship. To keep a relationship healthy, you need five positives for every one negative. If you don’t maintain more positives than negatives, your relationship is probably going down.

080714-facts-for-living1Have you ever tried to talk to someone who is all riled up? It’s not easy. Have you ever been so angry that you later regretted what you said or did? During those times, you are operating in your lower brain (the part of your brain that controls vital bodily functions like blood pressure, breathing reflexes, etc.). Your lower brain doesn’t think, it reacts. It’s impulsive. That’s why you can’t reason with someone who’s all riled up. You can’t return to your thinking, smart brain and use that power until you calm down with your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones at normal levels. This takes at least 30 minutes. So, during those times, instead of using your “angry brain”, take a time out. The time out skill provides a way to calm down and bring you back to your more powerful thinking brain. The time out skill sounds simple, but when you are in the heat of the moment it isn’t easy to stop. So, here are the rules and steps for the time out skill.

Facts for Living: What to take, what to change?

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension District Agent

I’ve recently completed a series of sessions on healthy relationships with teens in the Frontier Extension District. A couple of the lessons that I think are really important are on communication challenges and conflict management skills.

080714-facts-for-living1The teens have a workbook that helps them apply the concepts we talk about to their own lives. One workbook activity I find particularly helpful is, Communication Patterns: What to Take, What to Change. The teens reflect upon the communication patterns in their families of origin and identify the patterns they want to work toward for their own lives. You see, without this kind of conscious examination, we all have a tendency to repeat the same patterns we grew up with. Or, we tend to react in totally opposite ways, which can be just as problematic. However, we can develop skills to communicate effectively and to manage conflict in healthy ways.

Negative communication patterns and interaction are what starts to erode relationships. Danger signs include put-downs or invalidation, withdrawal or avoidance, negative interpretation and escalation.

Facts for Living: Have an attitude of gratitude

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension District Agent

“Of all the attitude we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing.” – Zig Ziglar

It is the “season of thanksgiving (gratitude)” and over the past decade, research has identified the social, psychological and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks. One study found that grateful people are more likely to help others, exercise and complete their personal goals. They also tend to be more determined, optimistic, more alert, and have energy and enthusiasm.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin work gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Facts for Living: Enrolling for insurance through the marketplace

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension District Agent

080714-facts-for-living1Individuals and families across our great state will be enrolling in health insurance or are renewing their health insurance through the federally run Health Insurance Marketplace, during open enrollment, Nov. 1, 2015, through Jan. 21, 2016. Since the new requirements for all to be insured began in 2014, more than 100,000 Kansans have gained insurance, mostly through the Kansas Health Insurance Marketplace, also called an exchange. Eighty-percent of people purchasing health insurance in the Marketplace are getting financial assistance paying for premiums.

As you prepare to enroll or renew:

Facts for Living: Early childhood interactions could cause mean behavior and bullying

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. When we think of bullying behavior, we often think of it occurring between school-age children. To date, little attention has been given to the relationship between early childhood experiences and bullying behaviors later in life.

080714-facts-for-living1Among school-aged children, bullying is characterized by aggressive behavior, which is repeated or has the potential of being repeated, and reflects an imbalance of power between the aggressor and victim.

Early childhood often marks the first opportunity for young children to interact with each other. Research shows that a young child’s aggressive behaviors become more organized into bullying-like behavior during the preschool years. These behaviors are similar to bullying in many ways, but may not be carried out consistently over time, or the dynamic between the two children or groups of children may not reflect a consistent imbalance of power.

Facts for Living: You’re a new step-grandparent! Now what?

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

Stepfamilies are becoming one of the most common family forms in the United States. When stepfamilies are formed, many new relationships are created and you may become an instant grandparent with step-grandchildren. You may have both grandchildren and step-grandchildren in the same family. Grandparenting can offer some challenges, uncertainties, conflicts and rewards that exist in other relationships within a stepfamily.

080714-facts-for-living1It’s important to understand the differences between stepfamilies and biological families. Understanding the differences may help you in your new role as a step-grandparent.

There is no such thing as instant love. Relationships build over time. To expect step-grandparents and step-grandchildren to instantly love each other is unrealistic.

Stepfamilies are not like first-time married families. First-time married families grow up together, while stepfamilies do not. Stepfamilies are confronted instantly with different traditions and values in everyday living.

Facts for Living: Safety tips for back to school

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

Many parents, grandparents and school faculty and staff are preparing for the start of the 2015-2016 school year. As kids head back to school this fall, parents and guardians should spend a few minutes discussing back-to-school safety tips.

080714-facts-for-living1There are several easy ways parents can get kids ready to safely face a new school year. One thing that most parents may not consider doing is preparing their child or grandchild for a disaster while at school.

Start by assembling an emergency kit for your child’s book bag or locker. Similar to kits families are encouraged to build for home use, it should include basics such as water, food, clothes, a small flashlight with extra batteries and a first aid kit. For a complete list, see

Be sure to check with your child’s school to confirm what is allowed on campus. For instance, schools prohibit pocket knives and medicines outside the nurse’s office. Also, don’t forget to include an emergency contacts card sealed in a plastic bag to keep it from getting wet. A form can be found on the FEMA website at (family communication plan).

Facts for Living: Prepare Kansas

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

Droughts, floods, fires and tornadoes are all disasters that we can experience in the heartland. Would you have been prepared to take action if you were in one of these situations? Many people have installed smoke detectors, fire alarms, and dead bolt locks in their homes, and stocked extra food in the pantry. But, to be prepared, you should also have a household inventory, check your insurance coverage, and prepare a grab-and-go box.

080714-facts-for-living1The Frontier Extension District will be offering an online financial preparedness challenge throughout the month of September. Prepare Kansas is an annual K-State Research and Extension online challenge designed to help individuals and families be better prepared ahead of disasters which can make recovery easier. The program focuses on a few activities every week during September.

Facts for Living: Are you an emotionally available father?

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

We celebrated Father’s Day this past Sunday, and while many fathers may be physically present in their child’s life, it isn’t enough to be a great father. Fathers (and mothers) must also be “emotion coaches”.

080714-facts-for-living1Dr. John Gottman, a well-known author and researcher, describes this kind of father as an “emotion coaching father”. Emotion coaching fathers listen to their children’s feelings, see the sharing of feelings as an opportunity for intimacy, and validate their children’s emotions.

Being open to the full range of a child’s emotions can put some dads outside their comfort zone. But remember the first time you fed your baby a bottle or changed a diaper. That was scary, too. You knew the task was important, but, like your partner, you probably wondered, “Am I doing this right?” At first, emotion coaching can feel the same way.

Facts for Living: Do I let my baby “cry it out” or not?

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

080714-facts-for-living1I’ve been preparing to teach some parenting classes and considering issues/challenges that new parents face. It’s no doubt that one of them is, “do I let my baby cry it out?” If you Google “do I let my baby cry it out”, you’ll get a myriad of responses, many of them are not based on child development or research, but on popular opinion.

Crying is the only way your baby can communicate with you and from the moment your baby is born, he begins to form expectations about the world. He can learn that the world is a safe, predictable environment where growth and exploration is possible. He can also learn that the world is scary, out of control and no one is there to meet his needs.

Your baby does not have the ability to soothe herself or take care of herself. Crying is the only way she can tell you she needs her diaper changed, is hungry, is too hot or cold, has a tummy ache or is in pain, or stirred up by too much noise or activity. When their cries are ignored, babies fail to learn that they have any control over how they feel. But, a consistent response teaches babies that they have some way of helping themselves feel better, by getting you to respond. Eventually your baby will be able to soothe herself.

Facts for Living: Active children outdoors require sun safety and insect repellent

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

080714-facts-for-living1With the weather getting warmer and summer break upon us, children will spend more time outside being active (hopefully). But, with the spring and summer sun comes the need for extra vigilance about sun safety and biting insects.

Exposure to UV or ultraviolet light from the sun is the most preventable cause of skin cancer. A few serious sunburns as a child can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to make sure we protect our children from the damaging rays of the sun. Within as little as 15 minutes, the sun can damage unprotected skin. Most people think exposure to UV rays only occur on sunny days, but sunburns can happen on cool cloudy days too.

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