The Research behind ParentFurther

ParentFurther's positive, strength-based approach to parenting focuses on what’s right with kids (and parents), and the small, everyday steps you can take to help kids be successful in the future. Behind our advice and approach are research-based information and tools that have been put to the test in the real world, as well as a panel of experts in parenting, child psychology, and related fields.

Developmental Assets

The core of our advice and approach to Positive Parenting is built on Search Institute’s Developmental Assets®. Developmental Assets—a term coined by the researchers at Search Institute, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota—are the most valuable resources that young people need in order to grow up to be successful, caring adults. These assets are 40 values, experiences, relationships, and qualities that bring many benefits to the young people who have them. Learn more about Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets >

An Asset Overview

Learn more about Developmental Assets with this quick overview.

Developmental Assets are one valuable way to create a firm and loving balance within a family. Search Institute researchers have found that kids who experience high levels of assets are more likely to have
  • higher self-esteem;
  • more social skills;
  • more friends;
  • higher achievement in school;
  • fewer problems with alcohol, smoking, and teenage sexual activity.5
  • While parents have a role in their child’s development, so do schools, child-care centers, neighbors, before- and after-school activities, congregations, and communities. Unfortunately many families feel isolated or not well connected to these resources. Being an authoritative parent doesn't mean you have to figure everything out all by yourself. In fact, connecting with other caring adults will make your family stronger.

    Family Assets

    The Family Assets build on 20 years of research on the Developmental Assets that kids need to succeed. Search Institute’s framework of Family Assets names 21 specific, dynamic qualities that strengthen families. Based on extensive research, the framework identifies and documents positive dimensions of day-to-day family life that allow families and their members to flourish. Parenting adults, youth, other family members, and people who support families all play roles in nurturing and sustaining these strengths. The Family Assets are organized around five themes:

  • Nurturing Relationships—Healthy relationships begin and grow as we show each other we care about what each of us has to say, how we feel, and our unique and shared interests.
  • Establishing Routines—Shared routines, traditions, and activities give a dependable rhythm to family life.
  • Maintaining Expectations—Expectations make it clear how each person participates in and contributes to family life. Shared expectations require talking about tough topics.
  • Adapting to Challenge—Every family faces challenges, large and small. The ways families face and adapt to those changes together help them through the ups and downs of life.
  • Connecting to Community—Community connections, relationships, and participation sustain, shape, and enrich how families live their lives together.
  • The Family Assets framework is the result of extensive Search Institute study of family life (see The American Family Assets Study and the Building Strong Families research). Search Institute research on diverse families across America shows that the more of these assets that families experience, the better off they are in many areas of life.

    Learn more about Family Assets >


    Sparks help give young people joy and energy, meaning, purpose, and direction. Pursuing and developing sparks helps young people make positive choices about their activities and use of time, helps them fully reach their potential, and helps them contribute to their families, schools, and communities. Research indicates that young people with sparks lead more caring, responsible, healthy, and productive lives than those who do not have sparks.

    Learn more about Sparks >

    A groundbreaking study on what teens need to succeed, _Teen Voice 2009_ measured three factors critical to the success of 15-year-olds. The study found that only 7% of teens have high levels of all three life experiences--"sparks" or passionate interests they pursue, relationships to help them pursue those deep interests, and a sense of voice or empowerment in their lives. Sponsored by Best Buy Children's Foundation, this research shows a large gap in the support that American teens receive in their daily lives.

    Download the report >

    Find out more about the study >

    Other Research Studies

    In addition to Search Institute's research on the 40 Developmental Assets, the following research studies contributed to the development of the information on

    Building Strong Families 2004

    Search Institute surveyed over 1,000 African-American and Latino/Latina parents about their challenges, perceptions, and asset-building actions, as well as the support they receive as parents. The results show that parents are trying to raise children in a complex society, too often with little or no support from their communities.

    Download the summary report > Find out more about the study >

    Successful Young Adult Development

    Prepared for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this study establishes 8 measures of the successful development of youth, many of which are central to ParentFurther.

    Download the executive summary >

    Find out more about the study >

    Grading Grown-Ups 2002

    A follow-up to Grading Grown-Ups 2000, this study looks at the actions and responsibilities that both kids and adults think are important, as well as how the expectations placed on adults affect their contributions to kids' lives. You can find many useful conversation starters on the Grading Grown-Ups 2002 page at Search Institute.

    Download the summary report >

    Find out more about the study >