Relationships: 5 Actions for Character Strength

Posted by Liz Perraud at

In the span of the last 24 hours, I’ve heard or read two reports about the importance of relationships.

The first came from Search Institute with research about how schools can help parents help their children be good students. Typically, the emphasis has been on “parental involvement"--meeting with their child’s teacher, attending school meetings and events, and volunteering.

Has this been the wrong emphasis? While recognizing that these opportunities may be of value, what is of more value, says their research, is helping parents with something that most are more willing and able to do: influence the quality of their family relationships.

The strengthening of these relationships, Search Institute’s study shows, built high levels of five actions:

expressing care

challenging growth

providing support

sharing power

expanding possibility

When high levels of these five actions were reported in the parent-child relationship, “they were also significantly more likely to report that their children have developed key character strengths including perseverance, conscientiousness, self-control and the ability to work well with others.”

These characteristics have a huge influence on “life outcomes” in school, workplace, and health—well beyond the immediate classroom.  

How can we, as “the church” support parents and grandparents in building up relationships in the home? How can we provide other healthy adult relationships in the lives of children and youth that reflect the identified “five actions”?

And what does this all mean for preparing young people to learn and grow in the Christian faith? Where should the emphasis of the church be to positively influence future generations for their relationship with God? 

Consider implementing a LOGOS ministry for your church--an intentional, sustainable, engaging approach to building relationships cross-generationally that also includes parents and pastors so that people of all ages can experience an abundant life-giving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

Look into our summer Youth Summits for high school students and older as a week of faith-growth and relationship-building. 

Read the article ("Parents Aren't Teachers--They're Parents) from Search Institute here.

Tomorrow: Part 2 on research from Germany on the importance of the teacher-student relationship

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  • We have never looked at it this way – five actions – but the end result is that we do all those things and more to enhance our ‘school participation’. Main focus is the relationship we have with our children and the effort we put into it to continually improve upon that. Every other thing we do with the school, be it attend school events, meet regulary with teachers and principals, attend games and help with any and all events, is what flows out of that relationship. If we didn’t have a good relationship that respects the children and enhances their school lives, we wouldn’t even bother with participation.
    Our main focus is on sending good human beings to school each and every day…everything becomes easier after that.
    Just last night we were on the receiving end of a story of a situation that happened in class earlier in the day….student requests to go to the bathroom but teacher refuses because student didn’t follow official process/rules…student asks and asks but teacher still refuses…another student jumps in and gets into an argument with teacher…teacher is exercised and angry….
    The reason we heard about this ugly situation is because we have a good, open and non-judgmental relationship with our children. The reason that our child shared this story was because he was equipped to be sympathetic and empathetic…to look out for such situations where ‘process’ required more than simply following it…being flexible and understaning and loving is more important and Godly…another reason is that our child, though admiring of the student who jumped in to help, was turned off by the unnecessarily ugly and disrespectul way that ‘help’ was offered. All this because, indirectly, because we do the five actions and more.

    If it were only about meeting with teachers just so we badger them to give our child another chance to complete his/her assignment or give another chance to improve on a ‘low’ grade, it wouldn’t be ‘parental participation’ but, truly, parental disruption.
    Thanks for your blog

    Hyiwot Teshome on

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