Update from the DFA Convenor

Zoom meetings will never be the same

We’re wearing unicorn masks to team video conference meetings, listening to Brenè Brown podcasts and swapping stories about Anzac Day, kids and schooling.

That’s how things are in DFA at the moment.

We’re also still here advocating for Defence Families.

In this podcast Brenè talks about having what she calls a ‘family gap plan’.

She tells a story from when her kids were smaller and she was travelling a lot. While travelling home all she could think about was getting into bed as soon as she arrived.

All her husband could think about was saying ‘tag you’re it’ and getting into bed himself! She described them both being at 20 percent capacity (so that’s 40 percent in total), when actually the total needed to be much higher for the family to function well. (She also assigns a smaller capacity percentage to her children.) She said it’s a myth that in a strong relationship each person is always at 50 percent.

It’s actually more about when one person only has 10 percent, the other person is willing to show up with their 90 percent.

A ‘family gap plan’ is then a plan to raise the overall percentage capacity of the family by reducing the gap between the current figure and 100 percent. Right now, for her family it’s simple: sleep; move your body; eat well and limit the news.

This generated a lot of conversation in the DFA team, particularly thinking about when our ADF members have returned from deployment or a long absence from home.

How do you get your percentages up when you’re both so low?

I’ll share with you that after one of my husband’s big deployments I went and saw a counsellor. I couldn’t ask anything from him initially so I went external.

During one of our First Five Years Webinars, Major General Fox said that if during this crisis you need to call the Defence Family Helpline every day then do it.

Major General Natasha Fox speaking on our recent webinar.

If you need to go outside of your family unit to raise your percentage, go for it.

Although we thought Brenè tips were simple, many of the DFA Team liked this language to describe what is happening or has happened in their family.Another topic that really resonated with the team was that of ‘comparative suffering’.

It’s the kind of thinking that says, ‘I can’t be honest about how tired I am with the flu because there are people dying of cancer’.

It means we start to rank our fear and compare it to others rather than give ourselves permission to feel. It comes from a belief that empathy is finite and that if we practice it there won’t be enough to go around. One of the DFA Team said that listening to this podcast made her realise that she needs to show herself some empathy. She’s juggling many balls and if one falls, that’s okay. She won’t run out of empathy for others if she shows herself some.

So how are you doing?

Do you need to show yourself some empathy?

What are you doing to keep up your percentage? In our house, on the weekend, we finally got Netflix. In response to this news one of my daughters raised her eyes heavenward and exclaimed, “Thank goodness!”

Take care,
Maree
DFA National Convenor

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Defence Families of Australia

National Advocacy body for current ADF families. We are all partners of current serving members.