Social media. Constant work demands. “Game of Thrones” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It seems our attention is pulled in so many directions these days, thereby pulling us away from those who care about us the most, and creating a metaphorical solitary confinement. But evidence indicates family dynamics can be integral to individuals’ development, fulfillment and success. So how can those relations be strengthened and sustained?
An upcoming University of Findlay free, public lecture series will address those questions and more. “Fortifying the Family: Exploring Strategies for a Life in Balance” is the theme of the 2018-2019 Richard E. Wilkin Events Series offered by the College of Liberal Arts.
The series’ first speaker will be William Berry, a Toledo resident who will address his teen daughter’s mental health challenges, the affect they’ve had on their family, and his fight to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Berry’s talk will be offered Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Union’s Multipurpose Room.
Berry, a Scotland native, describes himself as a “very full-time dad” and advocate for community mental health services. He chaired NAMIWalk 2018, is a board member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Toledo, and is serves on the board for Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School. He is also the chairman of Northwest Ohio SCORE, a nonprofit organization that provides free business mentoring services to prospective and established small business owners in a 13-county area, and is a principal with International Growth Consulting.
Other “Fortifying the Family” events will feature
- Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik ‘02, who will reflect on her success strategies used to hold the top elected position in city government while raising three children and sustaining her marriage;
- A panel of regional education and nonprofit representatives who will discuss some of the most significant issues facing today’s families, and talk about strategies for addressing those issues; and
- Wilkin Event Chair Andrea Mata, Ph.D., associate psychology professor at UF who will present research regarding work/life balance studies; and
- Manfred van Dulmen, Ph.D., associate dean of Kent State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, who will share his research knowledge and personal experiences with adoption.
Mata said she developed the “Fortifying the Family” series as a response to an erosion of family cohesion in recent decades.
“High quality, supportive families, she noted, “play an important role in the development and psychological outcomes of individuals.” Yet within clinical and developmental psychology, practitioners, researchers and educators are noticing that “it seems as though the family has taken a back seat to numerous other aspects of life: work, school, screen time, and social media, to name a few,” Mata mentioned.
“I believe it is time to shine an empirical light on how families are currently functioning, and what both we as individuals and our society can do to help bring order back to the family unit,” Mata said.
“Family,” Mata emphasized, is being considered within a broad sense, rather than as a traditional, nuclear makeup of a married heterosexual couple and children. Finding ways to strengthen all family structures, via interpersonal relationship improvements and coping skills, is the goal of the series, and of Mata’s research.
Mata is also completing a video series about ways to improve family dynamics, which will support Wilkin Event Series talks.
For more information about the 2018-2019 Wilkin Event Series, contact Mata at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-434-5785.