Why Shaping Your Family Culture Is Important
Interview with Jodi Chaffee, host of the Home & Family Culture Podcast
I recently had the pleasure to speak with Jodi Chaffee, who started the Home & Family Culture podcast back in 2016. She’s passionate about discovering what it takes to run a healthy, successful family. So whether you’re a mom, wife or single, Jodi has valuable insights about the importance of intentionally creating family culture…
Ann: Can you start by telling me who are you and what you do?
Jodi: I’m basically a mom and a wife… my husband and I have been married for 12 years and we have 4 kids. We homeschool and right now I’m volunteering for an organization that’s organizing a homeschool conference in May… I’m helping with that and I’ll be speaking at the conference about homeschool philosophies. I’m also very active in my church and right now I’m the president of our congregation’s children’s organization.
Ann: You’re very curious about family culture and you also host a podcast called The Home and Family Culture Podcast, so I’m curious about how you got started with family culture?
Jodi: There’s a couple of things that stirred my interest for it… About 15 years ago I was able to serve in my church and I went to Hawaii and there’s a lot of cultures there. They call it the salad bowl…
And one day… I met this young newlywed couple who were students there and my companion and I went to their home. [T]hey were from two different countries. They were having a very serious disagreement about their marriage because of their cultural differences and the tension was so thick…
So we left there thinking, “That was awful. I [didn’t] know what to say to those people.”
And I just kept thinking: even if I meet and marry someone that I grew up with… even just being from two different families, you have a different culture. So I was like, “What could I do? What could I possibly do if this was my family someday and we’re arguing about our cultures.”
So I talked to somebody who I thought was really wise… I told him what happened and asked him what can you do to survive? He said that when you come together, you forget about your past culture. [Y]ou adapt the church culture as your new culture…
But the more I think back on it, it really meant that you just have to come together and agree what your new culture is going to be as a family…
Then more recently, I was watching the Olympics and now that I have my own families… I was going, “Wow, these people had to have started with these sports from very young to be this professional and to take it to an Olympic level. Their parents would have had to really encourage them to turn a hobby into basically a professional sport.”
So I just started thinking: what is going on in their family culture that not only do they know what their child would excel at but also to encourage them to take it to the Olympic level? And so that’s what really sparked my interest to start the podcast…
Ann: Can you tell me more about the challenge of taking what you’re learning and then being able to understand what is best for your family and then putting it into action?
Jodi: The things that I’ve been learning is that change is simple but it’s not always easy.
The things that we do to change habits or to break a habit are actually quite simple but… I read the 5 Second Rule… [If] you can trick your brain and get ahead of talking yourself out of making the changes [so you] just jump up and act, then you can make major changes. But you talk yourself out of it within 5 seconds. So that makes change hard…
It [also] takes a team effort… And that’s where your family comes in. You have to be able to enlist each other in what this vision is for your family and to hold on to that vision… So you have to daily make it a practice to visualize what you want and you know, speak affirmations to yourself and to your family so it becomes your habit to replace the lack of vision or the bad habit.
Ann: I like that – change is simple but not always easy. What is the impact that this has had on your marriage and your family?
Jodi: I used to think that as a family we were doing okay… But more and more we realize[d] that in a lot of ways… we were pretty much coasting, thinking that we’re doing everything right, we’re checking off all the boxes…
[W]hat I’ve learned from this exploration of family and culture is that coasting isn’t going to be enough…
You have to have a vision and a purpose and a mission that will be bigger than those challenges and bigger than those negative things because the negative things will drag you down so easily. But when you can have that bigger picture, then your kids feel [a] safety net, they feel security because they know who they are [and] they know why they’re here…
A friend of mine used to say that life is like climbing up a down escalator. You have to keep going up and for every step, you take it’s going down five more. But the stronger you become and the stronger your vision, then the faster you can go and the stronger you are to take on that climb in life because it can be challenging…
And how it’s impacted my family is that… It’s changed my perspective about what my role is… My role is to be a mentor and a leader and to be an example and a modal for them and also to enlist them in this idea of whatever it is our vision is.
Ann: I love the way you talk about a mom as being intentional and a mentor and a leader in your home… So what changes have you made in your own family culture as a result of what you’ve learned and how did you make those changes?
Jodi: Most of what has changed has mostly come through changing the mindset… I like to read a lot of self-help books and it’s helped me to see that… it really all comes back to what can be translated to a family culture… because what I’ve learned is that when you have a personal mission, it really translates into a family mission…
I just watched this video lately of… Steve Irwin’s daughter… he was saying in an interview… he would, in a heartbeat, walk away from what he was doing if he knew that his kids were ready to pick it up and carry on his mission… Now his kids… work with their mom and they’re animal conservationists and that’s so inspiring… he was passionate enough about something so much so that his kids caught on to it.
Ann: That mindset can be a challenge, to change the way we’re thinking.
Jodi: Yes, because I think there’s this narrative out there: if you have a family, then you can’t do the things you want to do. Or if you’re a stay-at-home mom, then those kids are your 100% focus and you’re selfish if you do anything else.
But when you have a new perspective [then] you can say, whatever I do, I’m going to use that to fill my bucket so I can turn around and take care of my kids and also bring them along for the ride.
Ann: So you’ve spoken to some great experts. What have you learned from those experts or what really stands out to you from the conversations that you’ve had with them?
Jodi: I’ve learned that family culture is like a garden… I’ve learned that it’s like culturing where if you have the right environment to help your children thrive, then they will naturally cultivate a culture, their character and things like that…
Those all speak to this idea that family culture is the big picture and when you think about a garden… you have to have a plan… you have to learn about what plants thrive best together and you have to get out there every day and weed that garden… You have to make sure your soil is cultivated and nourished. All those things are like metaphors about what family culture is…
Ann: If readers could change one thing about their family culture to have a massive positive impact on their family, what would you suggest they implement in their family culture?
Jodi: I would say that it definitely comes back to this vision. The idea that whatever it is, to have a picture… 10 – 20 years in the future of what you want your family to look like, or what you hope they become and pick your purpose and your meaning of what speaks to you and your family and just start. And then everything kind of closes around that vision.
It will shape the values that you have for your family. It will shape the values and standards and rules that you set for your family. It will filter out and help you to discern what’s good and what’s not going to serve your family. Being willing to go against the grain sometimes with the rest of the world.
If you have a vision then it can support and empower you through any number of trials… It’s like your roadmap.
Founder of the Home & Family Culture Podcast
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