Building Strong Families 2004

Eugene C. Roehlkepartain
November 1, 2004

Summary Report
Building Strong
Families 2004
A Study of African American and
Latino/Latina Parents in the United States
Prepared by
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain
Marc Mannes, Ph.D.
Peter C. Scales, Ph.D.
Shenita Lewis
Brent Bolstrom
of Search Institute
In Collaboration with YMCA of the USA
Released November 2004
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 2
Contents
Introduction ....................................................................................................... 3
The Challenges of Being a Parent Today ............................................................ 5
Parents? Perceptions of Their Strengths .............................................................. 8
Parents as Asset Builders: Nurturing Healthy Development .............................. 10
Where Parents Turn for Support ....................................................................... 13
The Help that Parents Value ............................................................................. 16
Conclusion: Toward a Positive Vision of Parents and Parenting ....................... 19
Appendix A: Study Methodology and Sample .................................................. 20
Appendix B: Search Institute?s Framework of Developmental Assets .............. 23
Building Strong Families 2004:
A Study of African American and Latino/Latina Parents in the United States
By Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Marc Mannes, Peter C. Scales, Shenita Lewis, and Brent Bolstrom
Copyright ? 2004 by the YMCA of the USA and Search Institute. All rights reserved. The contents of this report
may not be reproduced in any means?graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, or
information storage and retrieval systems?without prior written permission of the YMCA of the USA or Search
Institute. Members Associations of the National Council of YMCAs of the United States may contact the Office of
the General Counsel for permission to reproduce. All others, contact Search Institute?s Permissions department at
www.search-institute.org/permissions.htm.
The following are trademarks of Search Institute: Search InstituteSM and Developmental Assets?
YMCA of the USA, 101 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606; 800-872-9622; www.ymca.net.
Search Institute, 615 First Avenue, Northeast, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828;
www.search-institute.org.
The Building Strong Families study is part of an ongoing collaboration between the YMCA of the USA and Search
Institute around strong families and parenting. It is part of the larger Abundant Assets Alliance, which combines the
resources of the YMCA of the USA, YMCA Canada, and Search Institute?three organizations with proven success
in building strong kids, families, and communities. For more information, visit www.abundantassets.org.
Acknowledgments
This study would not have been possible without the partnership with our colleagues at the YMCA of the USA.
Particular thanks goes to Joanna Taylor, who sponsored the project, along with her colleagues Arnold Collins and
Julie Mulzoff in communications. In addition, we thank Carmelita Gallo, Barbara Taylor, and Tony Ganger for their
contributions to this project and the broader Abundant Assets Alliance.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 3
Introduction
Parents1 represent a vital resource for communities and society in their central
role in nurturing the children and adolescents. Although other adults and
institutions share in this responsibility2, parents are essential to the task of
nurturing young people?s healthy development.
This study was initiated as part of the Abundant Assets Alliance between the
YMCA of the USA, YMCA Canada, and Search Institute.3 It builds on a similar
study in 2002 that involved a survey of 1,005 parents in the United States that
began to link the YMCA?s historic commitment to strong families with Search
Institute?s groundbreaking research on Developmental Assets, which are building
blocks of healthy development for children and adolescents.4
A limitation of the 2002 study was that its sample was not large enough to draw
conclusions about parents of color. This study focuses, therefore, on the two
largest communities of color in the United States: African Americans and
Latino/Latinas. In addition to testing whether these original findings held true
with these specific populations, this study sought to deepen exploration of key
areas that emerged in the previous analyses and to examine some dynamics that
are unique to these populations using focus groups and interviews to delve more
deeply into their specific realities. When combined, these various information
sources give rich insight into the strengths, challenges, and needed supports of
African American and Latino/Latina parents in the United States.
The telephone survey included 685 African American parents and 639
Latino/Latina parents. In addition, focus groups were conducted with 16 African
American parents and 24 Latino/Latina parents in New York and Chicago. Indepth
interviews were conducted with 20 of these parents. The ?Voices of
Parents? sections throughout this report are drawn from these interviews and
focus groups. For more information on the study sample and methodology, see
Appendix A.
1 For this study, we define parents broadly as those adults with primary responsibility for raising children. These
include biological parents, adoptive parents, guardians, stepparents, grandparents raising grandchildren, or any other
type of parenting relationship. We also use the term to show the collective sample of parents polled, whether they
are single, divorced, widowed, married, or in a committed relationship.
2 Scales, P. C. (2003). Other people?s kids: Social expectations and American adults? involvement with children and
youth. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. (Available from Search Institute.)
3 For more information on the Abundant Assets Alliance, visit www.abundantassets.org.
4 Roehlkepartain, E. C., Scales, P. C., Rude, S. P., & Roehlkepartain, J. L. (2002) Building strong families: A
preliminary survey on what parents need to succeed. Chicago: YMCA of the USA and Minneapolis: Search
Institute. Available at www.abundantassets.org and www.search-institute.org/families.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 4
Overview of Findings
The bottom line?The vast majority of African American and Latino/Latina
parents are working hard to raise strong, healthy, and successful children and
adolescents, and most feel they are doing well as parents. Yet they are doing so in
the face of multiple challenges in their communities and society. Furthermore,
most have little support beyond their immediate family to help them as parents.
This conclusion is consistent with the findings from the 2002 study, which
consisted primarily of Caucasian parents.
The challenges?Parents face many challenges in being strong parents. Most of
the major challenges are dynamics beyond the immediate family; these parents
see fewer challenges in parenting that are related to their own families (such as
sharing household chores or bickering among children).
The key challenges these African American and Latino/Latina parents identify
involve economic issues (with job loss in community being the #1 challenge) and
protecting their child from negative influences in society. In addition, many
Latino/Latina parents face a particular challenge by not knowing English well.
They are much more likely to name problems that are ?out there? as major
challenges than they are to point to close-to-home issues.
The strengths?Most of the parents surveyed say they feel pretty successful as
parents, and they report doing many positive actions with their child. When we
look more deeply, we see that the areas where they are most satisfied relate to
what we might call ?private parenting??things they do one-on-one with their
child. They are much less satisfied with what we might call ?public parenting??
those parenting actions that involve connecting with the broader community.
The supports parents value?Although there are many things that parents say
would really help them as parents, the things that parents most value start with
positive relationships. These include relationships within the family and
relationships with sources of support and guidance in the community.
For example, 70% of African-American and 84% of Latino parents say spending
more time with their children would help them be better parents?more than
anything else they identified. In addition, these parents say they are most likely to
seek help from their spouse or parenting partner, followed by their extended
family. Beyond that, they turn to friends and professionals they trust. Thus, the
primary sources of support are relational.
Conclusion? This study points to a major?often overlooked?challenge facing
America?s parents: They are trying to undertake the critical task of parenting in a
complex society with little or no support from their community. That challenge
represents a real opportunity for YMCAs and other organizations to step up to
build relationships with parents in ways that both affirm their current efforts and
provide the supports and guidance they need when things get tough.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 5
The Challenges of Being a Parent Today
Key Message
American parents feel like they?re facing uphill battles in dealing with economic
challenges, negative values in society, and community and neighborhood
conditions (Figure 1). These challenges are particularly hard for parents of
teenagers, those facing economic stress, those with limited English, and those
who are not married or in a committed relationship.
Survey Findings| Overall, half of the African American and Latino parents surveyed say it is
very challenging to be a parent today.| Being a parent today appears to be especially challenging for parents who are
not married or in a committed relationship; parents facing economic stress;
parents with limited English; and parents of adolescents.| Although none of the listed challenges was named a ?major problem? by a
majority of the parents surveyed, job loss in the community was the most
frequently mentioned ?major problem? that African American and
Latino/Latina parents face as parents.
Figure 1?The Challenges Parents Face
African American and Latino/Latina parents both say that job loss in the community is the greatest challenge they
face as parents. Other challenges are shown here.
African American Parents Latino/Latina Parents
SOURCE: Building Strong Families 2004, a study of 685 African American and 639 Latino/Latina parents in the
United States by YMCA of the USA and Search Institute. See www.abundantassets.org.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 6| ?Needing to protect your child from negative values and influences in this
society? is a ?major problem? for both African American and Latino/Latina
parents, though other items ranked higher for Latino parents.| Parents are less likely to point to the daily tasks of parenting than they are
larger social issues that get in their way. For example, while 40% of African
American parents surveyed said that protecting their child from negative
values and influences was a major problem; only 13% indicated that sibling
rivalry is a major problem.| The more problems parents say they face, the less likely they are to be
attentive to their children?s healthy development. The parents in the highest
third of problems experienced are significantly less likely to be in the top third
in how often they do things to build Developmental Assets (Appendix B) in
their children. More than 4 in 10 parents (44%) with low problem scores are
in the highest asset-building group, compared to just 29% of parents facing
the most challenges who are also in the highest asset-building group.
The Voices of Parents| An African American mother: ?Very challenging. Particularly in the economy
where both parents do have to work to really be able to hold it down so to
speak. We?re fine?right now I?m taking a hiatus. But it can?t last forever! I
know I need to get back out there to the grind. Very difficult.?| A Latina mother: ?The weak economy?yeah that?s always something that I
find worries?you know, I mean, what?s going to happen to my children when
I?m gone?things like that?healthcare is not even affordable right now. I?ve
got my medical plan and I have to pay for my medicines?| An African American mother: ?It?s hard for me to think of the challenges
without thinking of the rewards. So I think it?s phenomenally challenging, but
I think that the rewards outweigh the challenges.| A Latino father: ?I worry that, tomorrow my wife would feel sick, and I don?t
have money to pay for medical care. But from the moment I wake up I think,
I?ll go to whoever, and I?ll fix the situation, he could lend me money. I go to
the doctor, and I?ll pay later, and that?s how I get by.?| An African American mother: Most of the challenges are external. They?re
not in the relationship with my child. So to that extent I think it would be less
challenging if there wasn?t all this other context around you: the context of
consumerism, the context of a world that is in disarray in many ways, the
context of not having a community feel in the place that you live, and not
being able to buy a house in New York without a million dollars. I feel like
those are greater challenges than the day-to-day stuff.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 7| A Latina mother: ?Not having that person there to support me, you know,
when it?s needed. Not financially even, just the presence of the father involved
in the children?s life is a good thing for the child growing up.?| An African American mother: ?There are also challenges of the world we live
in now, where consumerism and commercialism and?everything is
consumption. And that?s not something I value. Or at least that?s not a value I
want to pass on to my child. . . . Aside from the day to day, trying to instill
values when the rest of the world seems caught up in ?what kind of car am I
driving, how many more pairs of sneakers can I buy.??| An African American mother: ?As a parent you have certain values and
morals and principles that you want to instill in your child. But there are so
many competing forces out there. There?s so much negativity in the street,
there?s so much negativity on television, there?s so much negativity and
violence on television. . . . . So it?s a constant struggle to keep them on a path
that?s positive and constructive.?| A Latina mother: ?It?s difficult to be a good parent. You don?t go to school to
learn to be a parent, one has to learn it by trial and error?.But now, here, I
say, that being a parent is the most difficult career in our lives, be a parent and
learn to be a parent.?| A Latino father: ?Sometimes the assignment?maybe because we come from
another country. We know the subject, but we don?t understand the way they
present it. Then, at times there are certain things that we are not able to help
them with. It is going to be the same outcome, but if you try it this way is
going to be wrong. I can?t explain it to the child.?| An African American mother: ?Parenting is definitely intended to be two
individuals ? because the female brings certain characteristics to the child?s
development and the male brings the other part, which is what gives you a
well-rounded child. So I believe the child that is missing one of their parents,
they miss out.?| A Latina mother: ?It?s hard. It?s not easy. There?s certain things that is
difficult ? like raising teenagers at home is crazy. One day they?you know,
they get up in a certain mood, the next day the other. My challenge is just
understanding them, basically.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 8
Parents? Perceptions of Their Strengths
Key Message
The vast majority of African American and Latino/Latina parents surveyed feel
very successful as parents (Figure 2). Furthermore, most feel that they have an
excellent relationship with their child.
Survey Findings| Overall, 79% of African American and 80% of Latino/Latina parents say they
feel very successful.| African American and Latino/Latina parents who feel more successful in
parenting are more likely to engage in asset-building actions, less likely to
point to serious problems that interfere with parenting, and more open to
support from others. For example, 38% of parents who feel ?very successful?
have an asset-building score in the top thirds of all parents, but only 26% of
parents who feel ?somewhat? successful report such frequent asset building.
Figure 2?Most Parents Feel Successful as Parents
The majority of African American and Latino/a parents feel very successful as parents.
SOURCE: Building Strong Families 2004, a study of 685 African American and 639 Latino/Latina parents in the
United States by YMCA of the USA and Search Institute. See www.abundantassets.org.
African
American
Parents
Latino/
Latina
Parents
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 9| Another item in the survey points toward whether parents are successful. It
asks them to rate the quality of their relationship with their child. Overall, at
least two-thirds of African American and Latino/Latina parents say they have
an excellent relationship with the child that they were asked to focus on
during the telephone interview.
The Voices of Parents| A Latino father: ?I try my best to care for my kids, to educate them the best I
can. More than anything to be patient?Being patient, more than anything,
and try to be involved with them in playing, school, homework. Not all the
time, but more or less, I can?t say daily, I am there for them. Sometimes, well,
I?m tired, sometimes not. But I try for a little while, half an hour you know.?| An African American mother: ?I think that having had him so young, and he?s
never been in trouble with the law, never been in trouble with school, always
stayed on the right track?I believe that I did that, I enabled him to get where
he is now.?| An African American father: ??I would say . . . that my personal strength is
my capability to nurture my children. Because sometimes we as men are not
looked at in the nurturing role or capacity ?because a lot of people think that
nurturing comes only from the mother. But due to my personal situation I?ve
been thrust in the role of being not only the provider but also the role model
and a nurturer for my children.?| A Latino father: ?I?m available at all times. I mean I?m a phone call away, if
that. Basically, I listen and understand. You know, I nurture her. Besides just
disciplining her I also give her nurturing, hug her, play.?| An African American mother: ?I always sacrificed what I needed for what this
child needed. So it?s like I sacrificed a lot in order to make sure he had [what
he needed]. And it may have ruined him in some ways?because he?s spoiled
rotten?but I sacrificed a lot. I didn?t put my needs first; I put his first.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 10
Parents as Asset Builders:
Nurturing Healthy Development
Key Message
Many say don?t have the opportunities to do some of the things that they know are
important to their children?s healthy development (building Developmental
Assets5). The biggest gaps appear to lie in building bridges for themselves and
their children to relationships, opportunities, and resources in the community
(Figure 3).
Survey Findings| At least a majority of both African American and Latino/Latina parents say
they do all but one of the asset-building actions as much as they would like.
The only action that most say they don?t do is ?speak out for the needs of
children and youth in your neighborhood or community.?| The most common asset-building actions for both African American and
Latino/Latina parents in this study are: teaching basic values such as equality,
honesty, and respect; helping their children know they are good at something;
and teaching children to deal with conflict nonviolently.| The least common asset-building actions (out of the 12 identified in the study)
are getting involved in organizations where the child spends time,
encouraging other adults to spend time with their children, and speaking out
for the needs of children and youth in the community.| Both African American and Latino/Latina parents in this study tend to do
those actions that are within their control within their family. They are less
likely to do the actions that connect their child to others and to community.
5 Developmental Assets are building blocks of healthy development that have been identified through extensive
research by Search Institute. See Appendix B, which includes the framework of 40 Developmental Assets. For more
information, visit www.search-institute.org/assets.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 11
Figure 3?How Parents Support Their Children?s Healthy Development
Below are the percentages of African American and Latino/Latina parents surveyed who say they take each action as
much as they would like.
SOURCE: Building Strong Families 2004, a study of 685 African American and 639 Latino/Latina parents in the
United States by YMCA of the USA and Search Institute. See www.abundantassets.org.
African
American
Parents
Latino/
Latina
Parents
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 12
The Voices of Parents| An African American father: ?Well I think it?s valuable to them because they
know that they have a father that is actively involved in their lives; and not
only their lives, but lives of other children who are in the community as well.
We have this saying in our Male Involvement program that ?in order to be a
man you have to see a man.? And he has this in his life every day.?| A Latina mother: ?I want to be there for them?something different than when
I was growing up. . . . I always try to tell them, ?Any problems you have or
anything, try to come and speak to me first about it.? . . . Instead of me always
stepping in, I try to let them be their own person.?| An African American mother: ?What was important for me as a grandparent
raising grandchildren, I needed to have a support group for me. But at the
same time I had to think about them and what they could benefit from. And so
I was fortunate enough to not only find a program for myself, but for the
children too.?| An African American mother: ?I grew up where kids were ?seen and not
heard.? And I mean I turned out to be an okay person, but I really think that
kids have a lot of things to say, they have a lot of things on their mind, and
they?re constantly restricted as to what they can say, what they can express.
And, in my opinion, to a certain extent, it stifles their growth when they?re not
able to really express what they?re feeling, why they did certain things. . . . So
I encourage my kids to talk, to say what they feel. And sometimes they go
over?they cross the line, right? . . . I let them know when they?re going
beyond what?s expected, but I also allow them that freedom.?| A Latina mother: ?I?ve learned that you have to give them options and they
have to think for themselves, so they will know if what they?re doing is right
or not, because we?re not always going to be right beside them when it comes
time to make decisions.?| An African American mother: ?I go to school meetings. I try to participate in
the parent-teacher conference. I don?t just look at the small picture with my
children, I look at the bigger picture. I try to take them to marches, I try to get
them involved in anything political that they may understand. I want them to
see both sides of the world and understand both sides of the world.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 13
Where Parents Turn for Support
Key Message
Most of parents? supports are within their own families, with their relationship
with their partner/spouse being a key resource for many parents (Figure 4).
Survey Findings| The most common source of support in parenting for most African American
and Latino/Latina parents in this study is their spouse or parenting partner.6 It
is followed by extended family, professionals or spiritual leaders from
community organizations, and friends and neighbors. The least common
source of support is community service organizations.| Most African American and Latino/Latina parents (88%) have at least one
source of support they turn to ?a lot? around parenting issues. However, the
majority (66%) report two or fewer sources of frequent support.
Figure 4?Where Parents Turn for Support in Parenting
Having a network of support is an important resource for parents. African American and Latino/a parents are most
likely to look close to home for support and encouragement in parents. Here are the percentages of parents who say
each source of support helps them a lot as parents. Overall, almost 60% of parents have only one source of support
beyond their spouse or partner.
SOURCE: Building Strong Families 2004, a study of 685 African American and 639 Latino/Latina parents in the
United States by YMCA of the USA and Search Institute. See www.abundantassets.org.
6 It is important to note that parents may have a supportive partner in parenting, even if they are not currently
married or in a committed relationship. At the same time, the gap between African American and Latino/Latina
parents on this item (see Figure 4) is likely due to the higher proportion of single parents in the African American
sample. In this survey, 54% of the African American parents are married or in a committed relationship, compared
to 84% of the Latino/Latina sample.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 14| A different perspective comes by excluding the most common source of
support: One?s spouse or partner. The result is dramatic: nearly 3 in 10 parents
(29%) report no parenting support from any other source than their spouse or
partner?not even from extended family. Nearly 60% have only one source of
support other than their spouse or partner.| The number of supports that parents report is important. For example, 45% of
parents in the highest third of number of supports also report high levels of
building their child?s Developmental Assets, but only 28% of parents with low
levels of parenting support report such frequent asset building.| Different sources of support emerge as children grow older. Whereas the
proportion of parents who get support from their spouse/partner and extended
family is consistent across the ages of children, parents are more likely to
receive support from the community (friends and neighbors, professional or
spiritual leaders, and community service organizations) when their children
are older.| Overall, only 33% of African American parents and 43% of Latino/Latina
parents indicate that they have an excellent relationship with their spouse or
partner. (The difference between the two is attributed to the higher proportion
of African American parents who selected ?no spouse or partner.?) Almost
one in five parents indicate that their relationship is fair or poor.| The quality of a parent?s relationship with her or his spouse was associated
with a wide range of parenting variables. Parents who report having an
excellent relationship with their spouse or partner are more likely to have an
excellent relationship with their child, more likely to engage in asset-building
actions, and more likely to have a strong network of support.
The Voices of Parents| A Latina mother: ?If it weren?t for him [husband], I don?t know how I would
have adjusted at all to American society. Because it seems as though here
everyone seems to be cut off. And I mean I?m living in a different reality, you
know. Comparing the reality here right now with the society from where I
came: there is an aunt, there is a cousin, there is someone who can help, who
can be there to help you through something. There?s a grandparent and so on. .
. . If I were back home I would have more of a support. And people could
see? even though it?s a Third World country, . . people still seem to be able
to maintain a close family structure and survive and get by.?| An African American father: ?My support group really is my family
base?you know, my brothers, my sister, my father. My mom, she was my
best?she was my best friend?I use the word ?was? in the past tense because
she?s no longer with me. But that was my best friend. That was my
counselor.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 15| A Latina mother: ?What has helped me with my children is that web of
support that I have that includes my mom, my sister, my priest, other
professional parents. And when I say ?professional?: other executive directors
who have children, who are going through the same thing that I go through.
And also other parents at the school, in the community, friends, family. My
husband. And my children!?| An African American father: Spiritually, church is one of my biggest support
groups. . . . I ain?t talking about just the people. . . . I?m talking about just the
idea of worshipping with people and listening to a minister, you know. . . .
You know, that?s the strongest support group for any family or
anybody?because I mean it brings you that little peace.?| A Latina mother: ?I think the best is for both parents to be in agreement. The
couple needs to talk seriously how they are going to raise the kids, how are we
going to raise the kids, what are the rules we are going to follow. If at one
point there should be a disagreement we need to discuss it, the two of us
alone, not in front of the kids.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 16
The Help that Parents Value
Key Message
While many parents would benefit from policy changes (economic stability, work
flexibility, etc.), they also realize how valuable it would be to strengthen and
expand their web of relationships?and their child?s web of relationships?within
the community (Figure 5).
Survey Findings| Seven in 10 American parents say government officials do not place a high
enough priority on families, and most believe it would really help them be
better parents if leaders would place a higher priority on families.
Figure 5?What Parents Say Would Help Them as Parents
Spending more time with their child is the #1 thing that African American and Latino/a parents say would help them
?a lot? as parents. Here are the supports they say would help the most.
SOURCE: Building Strong Families 2004, a study of 685 African American and 639 Latino/Latina parents in the
United States by YMCA of the USA and Search Institute. See www.abundantassets.org.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 17| The change that these parents value most is being able to spend more time
with their child. More than 9 out of 10 African American parents surveyed say
this change would help them as a parent ?some? or ?a lot.?| Interest in multiple forms of help is higher among the Latino/Latina parents
surveyed when compared to the African American parents. About 8 out of 10
Latino/Latina parents surveyed say 4 different changes would help a lot:
Spending more time with their child; feeling more secure financially; a
teacher taking a personal interest in helping their child, and a more flexible
work schedule. This overall pattern of Latino/Latina parents saying that most
changes would help them ?a lot? suggests a particular openness to support for
their role as parents. Though the study does not explore the reasons for this
difference, it merits further exploration and dialogue to determine whether
there is, in fact, a greater openness to support and help from others within the
Latino/Latina community or among immigrants to the United States.| African American and Latino/Latina parents of young children (birth to age 5)
place a greater value than parents of school-age children or teenagers on
spending more time with their child, having a more flexible work schedule,
having more quality child or after-school care, and help in improving the
partner/spouse relationship.| One way to support and encourage parents is for them to be a national priority
that is articulated and acted upon by national leaders and elected officials. A
strong majority of African American and Latino/Latina agree that today?s
national leaders and elected officials do not put enough emphasis on the needs
of parents, children, and families. In fact, 90% of African Americans assert
that children, parents, and families are not a high enough priority in the nation.
Furthermore, a majority of parents indicate that government placing a higher
priority on families would help them a lot as parents.
The Voices of Parents| A Latino father: ?Help for schools?art, music, everything?more than
anything will be educational for parents to improve themselves.?| An African American mother: ?I am their only resource at this moment
because there?s nothing in our community. Nothing. And I feel that?s the basic
need! They need programs in the community! I mean really some good
programs. And they don?t have it. They don?t have it.?| A Latino father: ?To be a good parent, I believe, to continue in the training, to
keep trying to better ourselves to help others, not just in our family but to
other people too.?| An African American mother: ?It?s very hard to find companies to work for
that care about the quality of life?you know, family quality of life. . . . I my
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 18
experience, you know, it?s like no one cares if your child is sick. You have to
be here. Not that they don?t feel for you, but the bottom line is ?handle your
business and then come to work.? They don?t really consider your family life
as part? or crucial to your performance at work.?| An African American mother: ?I think that kids like my son?and any
kid?they need to see African American people in positions of power and
authority. Because there?s a quote that I keep sometimes; ?A child cannot
achieve anything they can?t dream.? And if they don?t see it then they may not
even dream it, because they don?t know that it exists. So I think that?s
important.?| A Latina mother: ?We have a lot of support in the groups. Like the reading
group: It supports us a lot because after reading we talk and comment about
it? By our own experience, listening to other people talking about their
things, so we support one another.?| An African American mother: ?I just think we definitely need resources and
we need more educational programs to go out into the community, more
advertisements in the media to let people know?particularly males?that it is
okay to become more involved and it is okay to show emotion. And if people
just come together in a collaborative type of forum so we can get back to that
extended family. Instead of different groups saying, ?Well it?s that group?s job
and that group?s job,? that everybody come together and we all get it done.?
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 19
Conclusion: Toward a Positive Vision
of Parents and Parenting
This study clearly demonstrates the commitment and effort that parents put into
the parenting task?sometimes against the odds. Despite messages in society that
blame them for the ills of children, parents manage to maintain a sense of success
as they continue to build their children?s Developmental Assets with little support
from their community and society. In fact, the greatest challenges they faces are
broader social issues?economic trends, pervasive negative values, community
violence?not the daily squabbles and chores.
These are not common messages we hear about African American and
Latino/Latina parents?the emphasis of this study. Yes, the parents in this
study?many of whom are from low-income families?struggle (as is evident
from the length of comments from the focus groups on the challenges they face).
But the most important story may be that they are struggling, not giving up or
letting go. They are working hard trying to ?do right by? their children with little
support and inadequate resources. To be sure, some parents do not effectively care
for their children all the time. But that story is told over and over,
disproportionately to the powerful story of success and engagement that emerges
from this research.
To be sure, this study and other research points to some ways that parents could
use more help in being better parents. They need encouragement, skills, and
opportunities to connect themselves and their children to the broader community.
Some want and need help in strengthening their relationship with their spouse or
partner. Others need basic information on effective parenting.
But perhaps the more important message in this study is a call for the broader
society to reflect on and rethink how it views and supports parents. Rather than
merely blaming them when things go wrong (which they will sometimes), how
can we support, encourage, and affirm parents? Instead of leaving them to their
own devices, how can we be there for them as trusted friends and allies in the
vital task of raising this society?s youngest generation to be healthy, caring, and
responsible? The answer to these kinds of questions point toward creating
communities, organizations, and systems that recognize strengths of parents,
regardless of their family composition, cultural background, or other individual
differences, and that understand that parenting is best done in the context of a
supportive, engaged community.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 20
Appendix A:
Study Methodology and Sample
This appendix provides information about the study?s methodology and samples.
More detailed information (including survey instruments) is available in the
background report for the study, available at www.search-institute.org/families.
The Telephone Survey
This report presents findings from three separate polls, all of which were
conducted simultaneously in September-October 2003. The two major surveys
focused exclusively on African American and Latino/Latina parents, respectively.
(A third, smaller, survey was conducted of Caucasian parents on selected items.
Data from this smaller sample are not included in this report.)
The Sample of African American Parents?Sample design and data gathering for
the study of African American parents was conducted by Marketing Analysts,
Inc., of Charlotte, North Carolina. The African American sample was drawn from
telephone directory-listed households located within U.S. census tracts with 30%
or greater density of African American households.
The Sample of Latino/Latina Parents?The sample was a targeted list of Hispanic
surnames in five U.S. regions with the highest Latino/Latino density (and are all
covered by Spanish language media). Together, they represent about 70% of all
Hispanics in the United States: West (Los Angeles) = 38%; Northeast (New
York) = 18%; Midwest (Chicago) = 9%; Southwest (Houston) = 24%; and
Southeast (Miami) = 11%
The city in parentheses, the primary market in the region, is the location for the
bulk of the interviews. The percentage is the weight of each region in the total
sample, mirroring the proportion of Hispanics within the five regions based
on Census data. Sample design and data gathering for the study of Latino/Latina
parents was conducted by Garcia Research Associates, Inc., Burbank, California.
Sample Characteristics?The total sample consists of 685 African American
parents and 639 Latino/Latina parents. The samples vary considerably on several
key demographics. Here are some basic demographics of the samples:| The sample consists primarily of mothers (76% of the African American
parents and 71% of the Latino/Latina parents).| African American parents in this study are much less likely to be married or
living in a committed relationship than are Latino/Latina parents. In this
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 21
study, 54% of the African American parents are married or in a committed
relationship, compared to 84% of the Latino/Latina sample.| The Latino/Latina parents in this study tend to be younger, with 54% of the
Latino/Latina parents being younger than age 35, compared to 35% of the
African American parents.| Latino/Latina parents in this study are less likely than African American
parents to have more than a high school education. Thirty-six percent of the
Latino/Latina parents indicated that they have less than a high school
education, compared to on 6% of the African American parents surveyed.
Moreover, 30% of the African American parents surveyed indicated that they
have at least a college education, compared to 14% of the Latino/Latina
parents in this study.| The vast majority of parents are the child?s birth or biological parent.
However, African American parents in this sample were more likely to be
grandparents (11%) or legal guardians (5%) than were the Latino/Latina
parents in this study.| About half of the African American and Latino/Latina samples have
household incomes under $30,000.| More than half of the Latino/Latina sample of parents indicates that they are
of Mexican origin (55%) or Mexican-American (11%).| Overall, 39% of the parents in the Latino/Latina sample speak only Spanish in
the home, with another 29% indicating that they speak mostly Spanish with
some English. In comparison, only 14% indicate that they speak mostly or
only English.| Of this sample of Latino/Latina parents, 81% were born outside of the United
States. Almost half (44%) have lived in the United States 10 years or less.
Because of differences in sampling methodologies, sample differences, and
differences in sample sizes disproportionate to the U.S. population, the three
samples cannot be combined to provide a national portrait of parents. However,
they provide particularly unique insights into the experiences of African
American and Latino/Latina parents.
The Focus Groups and Interviews
To complement the quantitative telephone surveys, focus groups and in-depth
interviews were conducted with African American and Latino/Latina parents in
two major cities with sizeable African American and Hispanic populations. In all,
16 African American parents and 24 Latino/Latina parents participated in focus
groups. In addition, 20 in-depth structured interviews were conducted (10 per
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 22
site). Focus groups and interviews were conducted between October and
December 2003.
Data Analysis
Quantitative?A wide range of data analyses were conducted on the survey data
to surface major issues and points of comparison. In this report, we have only
highlighted those comparisons that are statistically significant (p = .05).
Qualitative?An inductive grounded theory approach was applied to the focus
group and interview data. Two applied research staff served as readers and
?coders,? of the transcripts for the purpose of allowing those themes to naturally
emerge. Actual transcribed text is provided to document the salience and
substance of the themes and subthemes that surfaced.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 23
Appendix B: Search Institute?s
Framework of Developmental Assets
External Assets Internal Assets
Support
1. Family support
2. Positive family communication
3. Other adult relationships
4. Caring neighborhood
5. Caring school climate
6. Parent involvement in schooling
Empowerment
7. Community values youth
8. Youth as resources
9. Service to others
10. Safety
Boundaries and Expectations
11. Family boundaries
12. School boundaries
13. Neighborhood boundaries
14. Adult role models
15. Positive peer influence
16. High expectations
Constructive Use of Time
17. Creative activities
18. Youth programs
19. Religious community
20. Time at home
Commitment to Learning
21. Achievement motivation
22. School engagement
23. Homework
24. Bonding to school
25. Reading for pleasure
Positive Values
26. Caring
27. Equality and social justice
28. Integrity
29. Honesty
30. Responsibility
31. Restraint
Social Competencies
32. Planning and decision making
33. Interpersonal competence
34. Cultural competence
35. Resistance skills
36. Peaceful conflict resolution
Positive Identity
37. Personal power
38. Self-esteem
39. Sense of purpose
40. Positive view of personal future
Copyright ? 1997 by Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN 55413; www.search-institute.org. Used with permission.
Developmental AssetsTM is a trademark of Search Institute.
Building Strong Families 2004 Summary Report Page 24


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