The Search Institute has long been doing research on identifying assets necessary for positive outcomes for young people. (Their Developmental Assets played a predominant role in the footnotes of our foundational document Renewing the Vision of Youth Ministry: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry.)
Search has recently published a compelling national portrait of families, the American Family Assets Study. What the study proposes is an ideal in the manner which families might live together.
In the study, American families scored an average of 47 out of 100 in the Family Assets Index, suggesting that the vast majority of families have both strengths to celebrate and opportunities to grow stronger together… THIS CHANGES THE CONVERSATION… Allowing us all to celebrate the strengths that are present in families and challenge towards healthier family dynamics.
For a listing of the assets and for links with more information, please click for more.
> Positive communication — Family members listen attentively and speak in respectful ways.
> Affection — Family members regularly show warmth to each other.
> Emotional openness — Family members can be themselves and are comfortable sharing their feelings.
> Support for sparks — Family members encourage each other in pursuing their talents and interests.
> Family meals — Family members eat meals together most days in a typical week.
> Shared activities — Family members regularly spend time doing everyday activities together.
> Meaningful traditions — Holidays, rituals, and celebrations are part of family life.
> Dependability — Family members know what to expect from one another day-to-day.
> Openness about tough topics — Family members openly discuss sensitive issues, such as sex and substance use.
> Fair rules — Family rules and consequences are reasonable.
> Defined boundaries — The family sets limits on what young people can do and how they spend their time.
> Clear expectations — The family openly articulates its expectations for young people.
> Contributions to family — Family members help meet each other’s needs and share in getting things done.
Adapting to Challenges
> Management of daily commitments — Family members effectively navigate competing activities and expectations at home, school, and work.
> Adaptability — The family adapts well when faced with changes.
> Problem solving — Family members work together to solve problems and deal with challenges.
> Democratic decision making — Family members have a say in decisions that affect the family.
Connecting to Community
> Neighborhood cohesion — Neighbors look out for one another.
> Relationships with others — Family members feel close to teachers, coaches, and others in the community.
> Enriching activities — Family members participate in programs and activities that deepen their lives.
> Supportive resources — Family members have people and places in the community they can turn to for help.
Of all the above… What is the most expected and what was the most surprising of the research?