Today’s blog is a conversation with Jodi Chafee on family culture and traditions!

She is a homeschool mom, seasoned podcaster, coach, and family culture expert. Her husband, Michael, and their kids are on their own family culture journey to change their trajectory. Jodi has studied business culture and compared it to families. They are on a mission to break away from the status quo that has failed them; they are redefining their own culture using the skills she has learned as she studied these principles. This has resulted in a powerful framework for hacking successful cultures and applying it to families who want to live with intention.

Generations of families and create what they want when it comes to their family traditions. 

For you to create the traditions, you need to start by defining what you do.  Before you can create habits, which is really important because it all comes down to habits, but you have to know what’s important to you and your family before you can create those habits.

I wanted to talk with her to add oral health habits into the family tradition conversation. What  I  find with working with families, when it comes to tooth brushing is it is way down on the list of things that we’ve got to accomplish, so it’s not important, but when we talk about being healthy, our mouth is the staple because we’re touching our mouth with putting things in our mouth all day long. So what we put in and how we take care of it is going to be important not only for your health, your children’s health but generations to come as we kind of talked about.

Jodi talks about habits, the rituals, the norms and, and all of those stem from your family identity and your values. And so, when you as a parent model certain behaviors, because you value those behaviors that is what your child picks up on,  so much of what we do is conditioned into us socially and a little bit genetically as well you know, but even there are studies that that are proving that epigenetics is also a social construct you know these things that shape our genetics.

The behaviors, the habits, the norms, the things that we do, they impact our ourselves and our children and our grandchild like like you just said it’s being able to instill those values into our children through modeling that behavior, through expressing that it’s something that you value, and, and then, you know, coming together to agree on what you want your values to look like and the habits and the practices that you want to adopt as a family because of those values.

She likes to have people start by examining the values and beliefs where they come from. So a lot of times, you know, for our families and our ourselves we have judgments, and we judge ourselves based on things like appearance, success,  failures and those judgments stem because at some point in our family history growing up, our parents, or people around us suggested that something about that you were either good or bad.

And so we grow up with these kinds of judgments, and we look around and look at ourselves and other people, and you start to create these kinds of judgments. 

The first step is to analyze those things and where they come from and identify what your family culture is.  It’s coming together to go on like a family road trip or something. And when you start out. Do you want to know what is your vehicle? What is this thing you’re getting into that’s going to take you to where you want to go, and that stems from your family history and your genetics and it stems from the traditions and norms you grew up with, and it also stems from the stories and shared experiences they have as a family and the environment that you grew up in? And so all of those things shape what your identity is where you’re going in as a family. When you start to analyze those things, you could start to see where the stories were the narratives, where the social conditioning came from. Then you can start to take inventory of what’s working and what’s not. You throw out what’s not working. Create new habits and traditions.

What are your habits, or what did you learn from a family when it comes to tooth brushing?

That’s a good question because when you think about as far as, you know, dental, and dental hygiene. I mean, we definitely went to the dentist regularly. But my mom was really picky about the dentist we would see because she didn’t like any kind of oral surgery or things like that.  She wanted to be able to avoid anything like that. So that’s a big part of my dental narrative growing up is, you know, it is being able to trust the doctors and feel like, you know, because we don’t know we open our mouths. 

We have no education about what’s going on inside there, and you hear them spouting out. Oh, this tooth and they have code words that you know you know, or each of the letters of your, your teeth, you know, and so we go in there basically ignorant and, you’re at the mercy of the dentist and the hygienist you know. And so my mom was always very particular about these, she would always get like second opinions. Um, it’s very hereditary on my mom’s side that we have,  almost an underbite. And so, the dentist would always try to tell her that she needed to have a jaw surgery to fix this protruding jaw, you know, as the mandible. Yeah, so, she was always skeptical of that, and that definitely came with me with my dental hygiene narrative of, you know, what is necessary and, just being able to maintain good dental hygiene. My parents were also very skeptical of fluoride. So they would use all-natural tooth toothpaste and stuff like that.

So it’s really interesting. Having watched that and knowing that my mom is actually has a lot of false teeth. I’m sorry, mom. You know, and, um, and it’s just because they were very holistic and, and they just felt like they wanted to do things holistically and and and I think it’s resulted in some of their dental hygiene kind of being on the,  less healthy spectrum. 

So then when I grow up, and I was taking health classes I did, public health, and that was my, my degree was in health promotions, and you know I started learning about the different things that were scientifically based that had to do with our health in our end, and even dental hygiene you know about, you know, tooth cavities and you know things like that depend, depending on the things that we eat, or things you know that. So I started to get this different sort of education through that understanding that there is scientifically based backed research for, you know, fluoride and taking care of your teeth and you know taking care of the enamel of your teeth and things like that so yeah it was interesting growing up they supported us to brush our teeth, but it was  very subtle, I would say,

That’s why I’m so passionate about this now, and in her defense back then, they didn’t do prevention or try to save teeth, they pulled them. And now we are more preventing and intercepting things before they become a problem but you many people wait until they’re in pain and in dentistry that’s the worst thing you can do because, you know, dental disease is silent by the time you’re in pain. It’s progressed to a really severe stage. Basically, I equate it to you’re in stage four cancer by the time you feel pain in your head. Yeah. So that’s the equivalent because now you’re having to make a decision you’re either going to need a root canal or have the tooth pulled by the time you get that pain. So when you start having kids, the habits that you then taught them based on your habits and heritage.

I mean, we just made sure that we have nightly routine habits and morning routine habits. You know I mean, we homeschool so I have to say we are a little bit late, relaxed in the morning, but our nighttime routine is very good, we have done the exact same night routine. Since our first child was born even before they were born, my husband and I had the same routines that we would practice every night. And so having those routines, implementing them modeling for our kids that this is what we do at night, um, you know, it involves dental hygiene getting ready for bed. And, you know, then we read together, and we pray together and do things like that, and then we tuck them in at night, you know, and because early on, it was like, okay babies need routine and then as they grow up that sticks with them. So yeah, we definitely have a productive routine. 

Another aspect of family culture. I got an education that was scientifically backed about hygiene and health. I started to question and to start and started to evaluate and take inventory like what is really the right thing what I want to be able to do that, you know, sometimes the traditions that we grew up with or even once we start out with as a family aren’t always the best ones or you know like after I started my family, and Pinterest became a thing. And, and so then it’s like, oh my goodness, are we supposed to be like Pinterest perfect all the time and it’s people started getting really obsessed with that idea and thinking that moms have to throw these perfect birthday parties and Christmases and having off on the shelf and blah blah blah and all these things. Well, those types of traditions are dysfunctional. If you aren’t, if they don’t serve your family. If you’re stressing out and you have anxiety about it like just don’t do it.

Make sure you’re doing the things that do serve your family. I think sometimes like you had mentioned how dental hygiene becomes so low on the totem pole is because our social values and our cultural norms are placing it there because you know if kids are you’re getting your kids ready to rush out the door and get them to school on time. Well, the top priority is being on time for school. But then, if they’re not brushing their teeth. Then, what that’s a social construct that says if you’re late for school, then you’re irresponsible, you know, and it’s like well change around that priority, what is it that’s causing the anxiety to miss and skip over brushing teeth, you know, question, don’t just do it just because that’s the cultural norm telling you what your value is based on. Oh, my kids aren’t time at school so, therefore, I’m not a good parent, but Is that really true. We tend to judge ourselves based on what other’s opinions are. 

You brought up fluoride, you know fluoride isn’t for everyone, and some people feel fluoride is poison and some people have fluoride is beneficial, and I know as even as a dental professional I thought my daughter needed to have fluoride well she has sensory issues, and she doesn’t like tastes and textures, and so I went through, probably 10 different toothpaste before I realized I wasn’t gonna use toothpaste with my daughter. And so that had to be something that I had to break that this just wasn’t gonna be what was right for my family. And so, we had well water, so I felt it was important. And we ended up just not using toothpaste. So just because everybody does something and we’re told we’re supposed to do that something, doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to be right for your family, and I do it took me a few months to let go of the fact that I wasn’t going to use toothpaste on my daughter. And when I started then researching it as you said, I realized, you know what, that fluoride toothpaste is not even on her teeth long enough to benefit her. So I stop fighting myself.

The benefit, yes it will help strengthen your teeth, yes the toothpaste helps freshen your breath, but ultimately it’s in there for two minutes, I’m having her swish and spit. It’s really not providing any benefit if that’s the way that I’m using it. So I found another product that I could put on after, but I had to break what I was taught and what I learned, and those habits are hard to break, and I mean I fought it the longest time and now. That’s breaking my cultural belief and doing what’s right for my family.

Yeah, exactly. The next step is then figuring out for your family, where you want to go with this you know it’s like okay you want to avoid in your instance you want to avoid having dental problems right you want to avoid getting into that stage for like you said when you, when you’re at that place we already have pain. So, habit modeling good behavior and then also helping your child understand their values. Because, and the values meaning what you want to establish and accomplish in the long run, you know, if you know you discussed as a family that one of your core values is health, then you have a family policy that we brush teeth every day, twice. Twice a day, we do things that take care of our teeth and our health. Right. And so you know it involves making sure you’re eating the right kinds of foods

Brushing your teeth and flossing and all those things that you know your family has decided, is,  part of your health, health values, right, because then you say, okay, in the long run, because we don’t want to have cavities or dentures when we’re older or we don’t want to have, you know, we would want to have health problems and dental problems when, when we grow up. 

And so then it’s like, okay, you see your child is like, oh, I don’t want to brush my teeth out and one more thing. I don’t want to do it for two minutes or whatever, you know, it becomes a fight right, but then you can sit down in a family meeting or something and remind them hey remember we talked about that in 20 years you want to still have your teeth. If you fight about brushing your teeth. Are you going to see that happening, you know, are you going to be able to, and then they get their own realization of saying, Oh right, this is important to me. And, and they will start to act on that realization, because I know there’s a lot of things you could do like sticker charts or you know rewards and things like that to help encourage your kids to keep those habits. But like I said, modeling it, and then, establishing that as a value, where. Look, we want you to have good healthy teeth. Because in 20 years, they could fall out if you don’t, or, you know, you won’t be able to eat candy anymore because your teeth will hurt every time you bite into a candy bar.

And they’re like, what really, you know, um,

so being able to remind them of that vision that you have based on your values, and then implement the policies our policies we brush our teeth every day or, you know, our policy is, we, we make sure that we’re not eating the things that are going to deteriorate our teeth or, you know, things like that. Um, so it comes back to also that the values, and that that part in my structure is, is what I define as the navigation portion of this family culture journey. 

So after you’ve, you’ve established you know who you are, you’ve identified some of these norms and habits and traditions that have come with you and you’ve taken inventory. Then you want to navigate, and you want to figure out, okay, where are we going, what do we want to become. And that is your mission as a family. And then you want to say, Okay, well how do we get there, and why. And that’s your family vision. And then you want to decide, like, Okay, so what are our core values, what defines us and who we are and what we’re known for. That’s like your compass of your family, you know, and. And so, and then the policies are like street signs and road, you know, road laws and things like that right that every family has, and it’s sometimes it’s hard to implement but that’s why you need to establish the mission and vision and values of your family, so that once you have an act these policies everybody is agreeing to them and I’m bored with them they go oh yeah because we talked about our values, our health is a core value of our family. And so this policy makes sense that we uphold our dental hygiene.

Then they feel part of the process so they’re more willing to follow through with it because they’ve been part of the decision making process.

They feel like they’re part of something, you know I think that that’s the thing with our families, my family life is just so messy and all our kids just going to do their own thing and, and then you kind of lose control it’s almost like when you’re in that car journey and your family road trip, you decide you’re just going to put it in cruise control, or neutral even and just roll downhill right like, well, then you’re who knows you’re gonna end up or at every intersection and you’re like, oh, let’s just flip a coin and see where we end up. Well then everybody’s gonna is scattered and you’re getting lost, it’s like, I mean it sounds funny applying this to,

When you’re on this road trip you’re on this family culture journey. Just like any vehicle you need maintenance, you need their service that you need to be able to do to that vehicle in order to keep it going. And so I talked about having those family meetings and communication, and also who’s the driver who is driving this vehicle and parents, you know if you are modeling that behavior and establishing these practices and recognizing the ways that we can help and condition our children to have good habits and beliefs. 

You’re the driver and, and then talk about trust is the fuel for your vehicle. So if your children don’t trust you and you’re trying to tell them to brush their teeth, they’re gonna be like yeah whatever No thanks, you know, and so trust is a big part of this process, and also having the coping strategies, when things don’t aren’t going right, or when you’re stressed out and, and just going. I don’t know what to do anymore. Well that’s almost like okay all of my other devices, my GPS is broken my compass is broken, okay we got to bust out the roadmap and follow the detours or you know these things to get on track, like already suffering or struggling from dental problems or any other issues that have the family, then, to following those detours and figuring out, you know how to navigate those changes and those disruptions in your plans to get back on track or start a new track altogether is be a that’s how you cope, you know, and it has a big part plays a big role in who you end up becoming because how you cope with stuff is really what becomes your default. You know if you. It really is. I mean, if you’re coping by. If you have destructive and dysfunctional behaviors when you cope with stress, then that’s what becomes your norm. And so it’s learning how to adopt different kinds of behaviors, so that. So, that you can cope in a healthy and constructive way.

So, you know, if your family is struggling with those kinds of things like finding constructive ways to cope. I mean, and even going back to the beginning like reestablishing if you, If your family is struggling with brushing and having those teeth.

Even with brushing habits if something is not working just reestablish what you would like to happen up to this point we haven’t been very good at modeling and establishing this behavior, but from here going forward. This is something we want to be able to do. And that’s okay.

Even though family life is messy and it’s scary, it doesn’t have to be. It can you can take control of of the narratives and the norms and the constructs and, and the social conditioning that you grew up with you can change, you can face it and take that inventory and decide for yourself, because, you know if enough of us say no to the dominant culture, that’s out there that’s negative and dysfunctional, then that’s what’s going to change our society.

If you would like more from Jodi, you can find her at home and family, and you can also sign up for my family success roadmap. It’s free.

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