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Dorothy Berglund

COLUMBUS, Miss.-- Mississippi University for Women’s Dr. Dorothy Berglund, Dr. Cecy Brooks and Dr. Youn Mi Lee presented papers virtually Nov. 2-5 at the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) national conference.

 Berglund, the chair of the Certified Family Life Education (CFLE) Board, led that group’s virtual meeting and was the host for the annual reception Nov. 2. It marked the 10th time Berglund, chair of The W’s Department of Psychology and Family Studies, presented at the NCFR annual conference.

“I am still as excited now as I was in graduate school because NCFR is the premier academic organization for family scientists,” Berglund said. “It publishes the top academic journals in our field, and I know that, after peer-review for acceptance at this conference, that my paper has been accepted by my academic peers as a valued contribution to knowledge in our discipline.”

Berglund presented an Advancing Family Science interactive workshop on “Faculty as First Responders: Building hope and resilience in times of toxic stress.” She collaborated with Dr. Deb Berke, director of the Wilmington University Psychology programs, Dr. Sharon Obasi, from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Dr. Chad Nunamaker, from the University of Akron. Berglund’s work focused on the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic and other events, like the Black Lives Matter movement, as traumatic and as potential crises for people. She said it is important to note the word “crisis” is not necessarily bad, but is a sign for needed change. Berglund said she and colleagues have been asked to turn their presentation into a journal article for potential publication in a conference-themed NCFR journal.

Berglund also said a continuing education course she completed two years ago has her thinking about the current situation in relation to the ideas of ambiguous loss and boundary ambiguity. Ambiguous loss refers to a stressor that can’t be defined. For example, people don’t know when the pandemic will end or what will happen next with vaccines, masks and surges.

“It is hard for us to move on from this kind of stressor, as we see it as something we cannot control or move beyond because we do not know what the parameters are,” Berglund said. “Trying to negotiate through these kinds of events to help others requires us to re-frame how we see the current situation. We can control our own reaction to COVID, and the social justice movements, even if we cannot control what will happen next with either. As soon as we start that mental re-frame, and change our way of looking at what is going on, we can move forward to helping others.”

BrooksBrooks was involved with three poster presentations and was the primary author for two studies – “Coping with Stressors and Caregiving Responsibilities in Times of COVID-19” and – “Peer-to-Peer Financial Education Programs in Times of COVID-19” (co-author: Dr. Brandan Wheeler of Mississippi State University) -- that she presented.

“The COVID-19 pandemic posed significant concerns among college students and faculty and staff working in higher education environments,” Brooks said. “While awareness of precautionary measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and remote instruction have been extensively covered, little was known about how individuals coped with stressors related to the pandemic. Through this study, we learned that individuals are just trying to keep up with daily demands. Those who reported greater levels of overall distress and caregiving distress feel emotionally taxed. While we found that they are managing their distress, some of the methods used to manage it, can lead to people burning out.”

Brooks said the finding of the study she did with Wheeler can be used to identify additional experiential learning opportunities in the classroom and their effectiveness in bridging the gap between theory and application.

Brooks also was involved with the study “Predictors of Financial Well-Being Among Emerging Adults within the Context of a Romantic Relationship” that Wheeler will present. The study found that gender, perceived proficiency in finances, religiosity and gratitude toward a partner are associated with greater financial well-being. On the other hand, having greater financial anxiety reduces financial well-being. The implications are important for understanding the role financial matters play in romantic relationships.

“Presenting at NCFR is an opportunity to share and gain knowledge for improving the well-being of individuals and families in our communities,” Brooks said. “This was my fifth year presenting at the conference and as a member. Each year, I come back with information and resources I can use in the classroom and research ideas to continue to promote financial capability among college students.”

Lee was co-author of the study “Helicopter parenting and college students’ well-being: A comparative study of the U.S. and South Korea.” Lee said helicopter parenting influences the mental and physical health of emerging adults. Recently, interest in the role played by paternal helicopter parenting in children’ well-being has been increasing. The study examined the association between maternal or paternal helicopter parenting and college students’ mental and physical health in terms of the mother- or father-child relationship, using a cross-national comparison between the U.S. and Korea.

leeLee said the study found negative associations between paternal helicopter parenting and college students’ depressive symptoms via the father-child relationship in both the U.S. and Korea, and positive association between paternal helicopter parenting and students’ physical health via the father-child relationship in the U.S. She said one interesting finding is that mother’s helicopter parenting is negatively associated with father-child relationship. Lee said the study could shed light on the salience of paternal parenting for college students’ well-being.

It marked the 10th time a project Lee has been involved with was presented at the NCFR conference. 

“Presenting at and participating in the NCFR, as Dr. Brooks mentioned, provides several opportunities,” Lee said. “In addition, it is a valuable time to represent my ongoing research work at The W, to discuss the research/conduct the research as a team (this year – helicopter parenting) and to meet colleagues from around the world to continue the network outside the conference. These opportunities help me grow as a teacher, researcher and as a member of the communities I belong to.”


Nov. 12, 2021
Contact: Adam Minichino
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