Q&A with Beth Anne Grant

January 2, 2013 

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Licensed marriage and family therapist

QUESTION: People make resolutions for the new year, how about families? Are resolutions a good idea for families?

ANSWER: I think it’s a very good idea for families. It could be one factor that helps pull families closer together. I think it’s a great idea.

QUESTION: Could you actually define what a resolution is and why they may be needed?

ANSWER: They’re needed for growth. A simple way to look at it is that a resolution is something I resolve to do or do differently. It’s a change I want to make that usually comes about when I become dissatisfied in an area or want something to be improved. That’s usually the catalyst.

QUESTION: How might individual resolutions differ from family or group resolutions?

ANSWER: The obvious answer is the person takes full responsibility for change with individual resolutions but with a family there is agreement required from everyone. With family resolutions you probably have a better chance for success because it has group accountability built in. Individuals often fail because of a lack of accountability

QUESTION: What are some typical resolutions?

ANSWER: Weight loss tops the list, but other ones include things like new hobbies, self-development, work on relationships, greater diligence at work--that sort of thing.

QUESTION: What about for families?

ANSWER: I can think of a lot of good ones. I’d say number one is time together. With television, the internet and all our electronic gadgets we’ve learned to engage through disengagement and it’s a real stumbling block for families and relationships. I’d say have supper together at least three times a week. Designate a family night at least every other week with games, a movie and popcorn, bike rides, something like that.

QUESTION: I think you have more.

ANSWER: I do. Couples should have a date night at least once every other week. Families are so disengaged now you have to purposefully find ways to pull yourselves together. I would recommend finding a place to worship together. As a Christian, I believe when you bring Christ to the middle of family relationships they’ll be stronger. Be more cognizant of praise and affirmation as opposed to demeaning one another and tearing one another down. Resolve to be kinder, more grateful and helpful.

QUESTION: How do make resolutions as a group?

ANSWER: I suggest a roundtable discussion, taking into consideration age and life stage. Let each person freely say what they would like changed within a year in the family and what they’re willing to work toward. Roundtable discussions are good to have regularly, anyway.

QUESTION: The million-dollar-question: how do you keep resolutions?

ANSWER: It’s back to accountability. Also, encouragement. Encourage yourself. Write yourself sticky notes and put them on your mirror or fridge. Visual reminders are good. If you want to walk, put your walking shoes out where you can see them. Take some action that leads to your goal. Lay out your bathing suit if you want to swim every day. And reward yourself incrementally as you succeed.

QUESTION: What have you seen develop as the greatest problem area for families during the 20 years you’ve been a therapist?

ANSWER: Technology. Despite its benefits, it can be very damaging to marital and family relationships. It needs to be monitored for content and time spent. That has to do with actual internet sites we go to and how long we spend connected to technology rather than those around us. I tell couples to get a basket and let it be the cell phone, iPad or whatever basket. Come home and put your gear in it and leave it there. Designate some time prior to bedtime to reconnect with it if needed, but keep it at that.

QUESTION: How do you relate to tech?

ANSWER: As little as possible! That’s my funny answer, but really, in my opinion there are more negatives to technology because of the dangers and disengagement. There has to be accountability. The proper use of technology makes fertile ground for positive resolutions. I see too much infidelity and marital discord directly relate to the Internet. The more we disengage personally from those around us the more selfish we become, the more indulgent we become and the less we care for others.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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