The past 20 years proves solid information according to a research study by the Search Institute. The study measures family assets and whether or not today’s families offer the level of support, care and community that is needed for a positive productive environment. According to the research, families in America score 47 of 100 assets needed. Among the groups, White American families scored less than those in other groups.
The American Family Assets Study presents a compelling national portrait of families. It introduces a new framework of Family Assets—relationships, interactions, opportunities, and values that help families thrive. These assets are associated with positive outcomes for young teens and their parenting adults; explaining more of the differences in outcomes than many demographics or other individual and family characteristics explain.
The study blends the perspectives of both teens and their parenting adults, to show how a wide range of diverse families experience both strengths and gaps in Family Assets. The framework proposes an ideal—something families might aspire to—as vision for how they live their lives together. In our national study, American families scored an average of 47 out of 100 in theFamily Assets Index, suggesting that the vast majority of families have both strengths to celebrate and opportunities to grow stronger together.
Why the Study Is Important
The American Family Assets Study gives voice to the diversity of adults, youth and the experiences that make up today’s families, while demonstrating empirically the ways adults and youth pull together to support and bring out the best in one another.
What does this mean for families in the Greater Rockford Area?
According to my work in the past 18 months I have commented on the issues emphasized in our city. While we talk of crime, depression, education, politics, revitalization, social services and youth we forget the foundation of what makes a city unite—the idea of “Family.” Somehow we forget the foundation of where great people begin, where great cities prosper and how we move from one generation of people to another. Reading the Family Asset report will provide you with information which demonstrates that the importance of the foundation of family remains. We cannot improve our community by building facilities, programs or services until we revitalize the family, because this is the “root” and heart of the individuals we are trying to serve.
Selected Key Findings
1. The average American family surveyed scores 47 out of 100 on the Family Assets Index. The vast majority of families score between 26 and 50 (39%) or between 51 and 75 (34%). (See chart above.)
2. Families are more alike than different when it comes to overall levels of Family Assets. When comparing different subgroups of families, we find no meaningful differences in overall levels of Family Assets based on income, family structure (single-parent or two-parent; heterosexual or LGBT parenting adults), parents’ education level, region of the country, or immigrant status.
3. Some demographic factors do make a difference in overall levels of Family Assets, though these differences tend to be small. Some factors that do affect overall levels of Family Assets include age of the child, parenting adults’ marital status, the family’s access to basic resources in their community, race/ethnicity, and mobility.
4. Overall, parenting adults and their teens tend to report similar assets in their families. Where there are differences, they fit what we would expect developmentally. For example, there is a 31% gap between parents and teens who say their family has the asset “openness about tough topics,” such as sexuality, religion, and substance use.
5. Specific Family Assets and categories of assets are more or less common in American families. Families show the most strength in the category of “nurturing relationships” (average score: 12 out of 20), and the greatest needs in the categories of “establishing routines,” “adapting to challenges,” and “connecting to community” (each 8 out of 20). The most common Family Asset is “clear expectations” (84%); the least common Family Asset is “relationships with others” (22%)
6. When families foster more of these assets, both the parent and kids do better in life. Teens and parents from families with more assets tend to:
- Have higher satisfaction with their families and their lives;
- Take better care of their health; and
- Contribute more to their communities