A Resource for Enhancing Your Family's Relationships
ParentFurther is resource for families. Key features of ParentFurther’s approach include:
- Tap strengths in all families
- Discover and use family’s strengths
- Focus on family activities rather than parenting strategies
- Learn and grow by trying things
- Connect with others for inspiration and support
There are many ways to think about families and parenting. Here’s how we approach these topics on ParentFurther
Families—ParentFurther is a resource to help all families see their strengths. All families have strengths, regardless of income, race, or ethnicity. Strengths exist in a family with two parents, a single parent, multi-generational members, and straight and gay parents.
Parents—When the term parent is used on ParentFurther, it includes any parent or guardian who is raising a child. This includes biological, adoptive, and foster parents. It also includes grandparents in parenting roles. Other adults who invest time in the lives of children and youth will find the site useful. But our focus is on those who have primary or legal responsibility for children.
Children’s Ages—The information on ParentFurther applies to families with children of all ages. However, the activities will be most helpful for families with children in upper elementary grades and middle school. Many activities can be adapted for younger and older children. ParentFurther welcomes readers’ ideas for adapting activities.
What Matters Most—ParentFurther is based on research that shows strengths exist across many types of families. The quality of the relationships in the family is the focus of this website. Quality relationships play a bigger role than family demographics in children’s development. (See the research page for more information.)
Most families already do many things right. Most parenting adults are deeply committed to their children.
Sometimes, though, families get distracted by other demands. Sometimes strengths get buried under stresses. Sometimes life changes, and families need to regain their bearings.
That’s where ParentFurther comes in. The quizzes, articles, and activities can help parents assess where they are. Parents will find suggestions to talk about what matters, try new things, and make commitments with children to learn and grow. Parents won’t find long lists of things to do. Rather, family members will find activities to do together. These activities offer families ways to spend quality time together. Families will discover new things about each other, what makes their family strong, and ways to support each other.
ParentFurther focuses on shared family activities, rather than advice and strategies for parents. This approach is grounded in a belief that parenting is a relationship. We also know that many families crave for more meaningful time together.
A parenting relationship involves give and take, self-disclosure, and growing together. The conversation starters and activities encourage kids and adults to participate fully, telling their stories, giving ideas, and learning together.
That may seem uncomfortable at first, especially if parents haven’t had these kinds of conversations and interactions with their kids. Choose activities that are most comfortable. Over time, parents will discover that they enjoy the interactions more.
Starting something new can be hard. Small steps are a great way to try something new without committing to it forever.
If it goes well, try it again—or adapt it and try something else. If it’s working, parents can build a plan to make it a positive habit. This plan includes clear goals, what to do when obstacles come up, and people who will provide support until it becomes a habit.
ParentFurther builds on this understanding. Parents can see how they are doing (a quiz) in an area, talk about it, then try activities to explore the issue. Parents can track their progress on activities and get reminders to nudge them forward. We know it’s easy to get distracted by other priorities. When parents are ready, they can take it further by creating a plan with their family to help everyone get into the habit of interacting in new ways.
ParentFurther can be used by families on their own. It can also be a powerful tool for connecting with other parents in networks or communities. Commit to work through topics together. We’ve included discussion starters for groups of parents on every “Talk About It” page to make that easier.
In Fall 2015, we’ll begin piloting tools and resources as part of the Keep Connected Program to help networks, schools, and organizations use ParentFurther as a resource for engaging and supporting families. Contact us if you’d like more information when these resources are available.