More Than Race or Income, Relationships Matter

Oct 15, 2015
To find out whether or not students will do well in school, don’t look at their race or family income; instead, consider the quality of their relationships with their parents. 
 
According to a new report from the nonprofit Search Institute, the quality of child-parent relationships is 10 times more important to the development of a child’s social and emotional development than demographic factors like race, ethnicity, family composition and family income.
 
Don’t Forget the Families studied 1,085 parenting adults of 3- to 13-year-olds from across the United States. The report found that, when parents had stronger relationships with their children, children were more likely to develop key character strengths, such as taking responsibility, managing emotions, and being concerned for others.
 
As more research points to the crucial role that social-emotional skills play in academic success, the report argues that schools should tap into the power of child-adult relationships, both inside and outside the family.
 
“Though this report focuses on relationships in families, the broader vision highlights the power and need to understand and strengthen a web of important adult and peer relationships across all areas of kids’ lives,” the report notes. 
 
“There is a rich but perhaps untapped reservoir of relational power across the economic and cultural spectrum in the United States,” the report continues. “It lies in the families, schools, programs, neighborhoods, communities, and virtual spaces where our children and youth live and learn.”
 
In an article for the Huffington Post, Search Institute CEO Kent Pekel writes that schools should refocus their efforts to reengage families. “Rather than asking parents to reinforce what we do in schools, we need to find ways to reinforce what parents can do to be effective parents.” 
 
To read a summary of the report, click here.