This week Uplift cofounder Drew Hansen sat down with Sara Hughes-Zabawa to discuss ways to rediscover your family’s values while parenting.
Sara is a trauma-informed therapist who has worked extensively with couples in mixed-faith marriages and is a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ youth. As a clinician and Uplift customer in a mixed-faith marriage herself, Sara has practical insights about how to turn family differences into a source of strength. This is a chance to hear how a licensed clinical social worker uses Uplift to be curious and explore values with her husband and two young children, ages 6 and 3.
Sara has also joined Uplift as an advisor, bringing her expertise in therapy and social work. See her bio on our team page.
Here are five insights from the conversation. You can also see the full video below.
1. Hearing other people’s stories is a spiritual practice.
Sara starts the conversation by talking about how she’s a third-generation social worker, how she’s interwoven social justice into her practice, and how she meets one on one with her therapy clients. As a result of this experience, she feels a “reverence for the human story.” She adds, “It’s been one of the most important spiritual practices of my life, sitting down and witnessing another person’s human experience.” It’s something that we can all experience with our kids as we fully witness them in their growth.
2. Knowing each other’s values can help us get along.
Sara talks about a practice she does as a therapist to help clients rediscover their values — a practice where clients pin down the five values that are most important to them. This practice is especially useful when married couples disagree about belief. “I help clients get really curious about their top five values individually,” she says, “and then we compare them as a couple.” What she finds is that more often than not, couples who go through this process realize that their core values haven’t shifted dramatically even though their beliefs may have shifted. The way that a particular value such as compassion surfaces may look different, but the core value often remains unchanged. Knowing this can help us feel grounded despite changed.
3. “Difference is not deficient.”
One of the concepts that Sara holds most dear is that “difference is not deficient” and is instead a source of strength. She shares a story about her 6-year-old son who values fairness — both in the sense that he feels frustrated when things don’t go the way he wants and in the sense that he wants other people who have less to have an equal amount. Just because Sara happens to not value this notion of fairness the exact same way that her son does, doesn’t mean she doesn’t learn from him. The same is true for all of us. By admiring the values that other people hold, we can appreciate them more fully.
4. Busy parents can use a bit of structure to teach values in the home.
“I’m busy, and I’m a young mom,” Sara says, “and like everyone else I need some support.” She talks about how the Uplift curriculum provides structure to help her a regularly explore values with her kids. Of course, this structure could come from any number of places — an integrated calendar, chore chart, a religious tradition, or something else. In each case, the point is that having some external support can make teaching values easier.
5. Have a routine — and a backup plan.
Sara outlines what her approach looks like in her mixed faith marriage. In addition to attending church services with her husband, who holds a more traditional approach to spirituality, they also practice regularly at home on Sunday. This starts with family yoga time via Cosmic Kids Yoga, and then moves into a 10-15 minute conversation centered around an aspect of an Uplift lesson. When Sunday gets too busy, they use their backup plan of having the conversation on the following Monday night.
Sara also shares about how Uplift discussions have led to touching moments in the home. For instance, she shares that it was during an Uplift discussion that she and her husband told their adopted daughter that they adopted her because of their inner knowing — that they just knew it was the right thing to do. This conversation has resurfaced multiple times since then and has been a source of love.
In addition, participants ask questions about helping teens and share their own insights around the lessons.
You can see the full video below. (Note that there are few brief moments where the internet connection experiences a hiccup.)