The Stronger the Relationship, the Better Teens Fared in Health, Grades, School Attendance and Level of Workplace Skills
June 11, 2007 - WASHINGTON – The America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance) today announced the release of the first in a series of national research briefs on issues impacting American youth and their families based on the Alliance’s landmark study, Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action (ECEP). To coincide with Father’s Day this Sunday, the first brief, titled “Parenting,” addresses the association between a strong parental influence and a teenager’s success in school and health. Additionally, this brief explores the relation between strong parental influence and the presence of the Five Promises in the youths’ lives – the Five Promises are caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others, that research has shown children need in order to lead the most productive and healthy lives.
The Alliance collaborated with the Search Institute, Child Trends and the Gallup Organization on ECEP, which surveyed a national sample of more than 2,000 teenagers ages 12-to-17 and 2,000 of their parents by telephone. The results showed that teenagers who had the strongest relationships with their parents were healthier, performed best in school, missed fewer days of school and had a higher level of workplace skills. Furthermore, these teens were more than twice as likely then their peers who had a weaker relationship with their parents, to experience more of the Five Promises in their lives. The study also demonstrated that contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming majority of young people said they have a “mostly” or “very” close relationship with their parents. More than 80 percent of teens said they had a close relationship with their mother and more than 70 percent with their father. Nearly 80 percent also said they felt they could talk with their mother about problems they were having.
“This study validates how important it is for young people to have an adult in their lives—be it a parent or other—that they can talk with and rely on regularly to help guide them in the right direction,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “What we have here is a situation where the success of our children is directly impacted by the kind of adult support they have at home, in school and in the community.”
Researchers posed a variety of questions to gauge parental relationship quality, including asking teens how much their parents know about their friends and whereabouts after school, how safe they felt at home and how often teens and parents talked about school. The results of those questions were added up and recorded as part of a “parent influence” index which measured the level of parental influence — high, medium or low.
Those teens with the consistently highest levels of parent influence also had better grades, more school engagement and better workplace skills than those who had medium or low parental influence. In some cases like school engagement and experiencing at least four out of the Five Promises in their lives, youth with high levels of parental influence scored more than twice as high as those with low levels. For example, 67 percent of teenagers with the strongest levels of parental influence felt safe and had constructive things to do with their time, such as involvement in high-quality after-school programs, as opposed to just 20 percent for those with the lowest levels. Likewise, 61 percent of teens with high quality parental influence felt their schools were challenging them and treating them fairly—critical elements for the effective education Promise—whereas only 21 percent of teens with the lower quality levels of parental influence experienced this Promise or challenging schools. Overall, half of teens surveyed with high levels of parental influence experienced at least four of the Five Promises—the critical mass researchers believe is necessary for success. Only eight percent of those in the bottom echelon of influence were receiving four or more Promises.
To help more of the nation’s children who are falling into the lowest level of parental influence, and provide them with more of the Promises in their lives, the Alliance is launching three new National Action Strategies designed to improve the lives of 15 million of the nation’s most disadvantaged children over the next five years.
The research brief series is based on the Alliance’s ECEP report released in November 2006. ECEP was the first comprehensive research report that attempted to measure the presence of the key developmental resources—Five Promises—that correlate with success in young people’s lives, as well as the association between the Promises on children’s overall well-being. The report revealed that experiencing at least four of the Five Promises is necessary to succeed in life; moreover, our study suggests that for youth who receive these fundamental resources, economic and racial disparities can be diminished. ECEP also showed that less than one in three young people are receiving enough of the Promises to feel confident that they will succeed.
The entire parenting brief, including the full “parental influence” index, can be found on the America’s Promise web site at: www.americaspromise.org. Additional national study briefs will be released over the next several months to complete the series.
About the America’s Promise Alliance
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s leader in forging a strong and effective partnership alliance comprised of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers, advocacy and faith groups committed to ensuring that children receive the fundamental resources - the Five Promises – they need to lead successful, healthy and productive lives and build a stronger society. Building on the legacy of our founder General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our children is grounded in experiencing the Five Promises - caring adults; safe place; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others - at home, in school and in the community. For more information about America’s Promise Alliance visit www.americaspromise.org.