Strengthen Your Family Relationships
Relationships that Help Kids Thrive
Sometimes we think parenting is most a set of strategies and techniques we use to shape our kids. But—at its core—being a parent is primarily about having a powerful relationship with a child who becomes a teenager, and then an adult. But what do those strong family relationships look like? What can we do in our families to be intentional and proactive in ensuring that our relationships continue to be positive and powerful as our kids grow up, even as we each grow and change?
Through extensive research with families across the United States, Search Institute has identified five keys to that help young people be and become their best selves. Many people can have these kinds of “developmental relationships” with children and youth. But mothers, fathers, and other parenting adults have central and powerful relationships that typically begin before childbirth and continue throughout life. The challenge and opportunity is to work together to keep those relationships strong, flexible, and resilient as each person grows and changes. We created Keep Connected to help you do just that.
What Are Developmental Relationships?
There are five elements—or five keys—to relationships that help kids grow, learn, and thrive. They are:
- Express care—Show me that I matter to you.
- Challenge growth—Push me to keep getting better.
- Provide support—Help me complete tasks and achieve goals.
- Share power—Treat me with respect and give me a say.
- Expand possibilities—Connect me to people and places that broaden my world.
Learn more about specific actions you can do in relationships to help kids thrive.
Take a quiz about these five keys in your family. Invite other family members to do it too. Then compare results.
What Strengths Do Families Experience in their Relationships?
Why Do Developmental Relationships Matter?
- Take personal responsibility for their actions
- Are motivated to learn
- Manage their emotions well
- Experience fewer behavioral problems, such as throwing temper tantrums or fighting
- Help other people
- Are hopeful and have a sense of purpose
Read more research on the power of family relationships.
Explore Your Family Relationships on Keep Connected
- Take a quiz to see how you see relationships between yourself and your child or children. Then invite other family members to try it, too. Compare results, then decide where you want to focus.
- Pick the key to relationships that is most interesting or challenging to you:
- Ben-Eliyahu, A., Rhodes, J. E., & Scales, P. C. (2014). The interest-driven pursuits of 15 year olds: “Sparks” and their association with caring relationships and developmental outcomes. Applied Developmental Science, 18(2), 76–89. doi:10.1080/10888691.2014.894414.
- Borawki, E. A., Ievers-Landis, C. E., Lovegreen, L. D., & Trapi, E. S. (2003). Parental monitoring, negotiated unsupervised time, and parental trust: The role of perceived parenting practices in adolescent health risk behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 33(2), 60–70.