Share Power: Learn About It

What Does It Mean to Share Power?

“Ungrounded parental direction and blind obedience to parents is no longer part of the modern life of children and adolescents. Young people are seen, in many respects, rather as partners of their parents in the process of everyday negotiation.”What does it mean when we say that sharing power is key to family strengths and relationships? What kind of power? How much is shared? By whom? When? Why?

Your family’s culture, background, beliefs, and circumstances all affect how you might answer those questions. The answers change as kids grow up. However, at its core, sharing power in our relationships involves these four key actions:

  • Respect—Take each other seriously and treat each other fairly.
  • Negotiate—Give each other a voice in decisions that affect them.
  • Respond—Understand and adjust to each others’ needs, interests, and abilities.
  • Collaborate—Work together to accomplish goals and solve problems.

At its heart, “sharing power” highlights the ways we influence, learn from, and work with each other through our relationships.

How Do U.S. Families Share Power?

U.S. parents of 3 to 13 year olds surveyed who score high on the four actions that are part of sharing power:

SOURCE: Search Institute survey of 1,000 parenting adults in the United States. Made possible with generous support from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to explore the ways you share power with your kids.
  • Learn about why sharing power with your kids is important.

Research Sources

1. du Bois-Reymond, M., Büchner, P., & Krüger, H.-H. (1993). Modern family as everyday negotiation: Continuities and discontinuities in parent-child relationships. Childhood, 1, 87-99. doi:10.1177/090756829300100204