ADULTS, NOT KIDS, DELINQUENT: STUDY
A joint study sponsored by two Minneapolis-based institutions shows that American adults agree, across the demographic spectrum, about what healthy kids really need from parents.
But the same study, conducted by Lutheran Brotherhood (LB) and Search Institute, shows a big gap between what young people need and what adults actually do to meet their needs.
“American adults aren’t living up to their own expectations in their relationships with kids,”said Nathan Dungan, vice president of LB. He responded to the findings in Grading Grown-Ups: American Adults Report on Their Real Relationships with Kids, by saying, “[It’s] a wake-up call, reminding us that we know what to do, but we aren’t doing it. Kids need us, and we’re letting them down.”
Dr. Peter Benson, co-author of the study and president of Search Institute, said just one in 20 adults consistently relates to kids in a positive way. Said Benson, “The general assumption in our culture is that people are to take care of themselves and their own, and then mind their own business.”
But, said Benson, children and youth need a network of caring adults, in addition to their parents.
The study found significant gaps between what adults say is most important and how most adults know they act. For example, although 75% of adults say it’s most important to have meaningful conversations with children and youth, just 34% of adults surveyed said the adults they know follow through in that action.
Although 70% of adults re-ported it was most important to teach respect for cultural differences, only 36% were doing so.
Statistically significant gaps between beliefs and behaviors were found in 17 of the 19 actions studied.
Benson said a variety of factors may explain the gaps. He identified as possibilities: conflicting priorities, lack of social pressure, negative images of young people, lack of neighborhood connections, work-related pressures, consumerism, and even lack of confidence.
“Many factors in today’s world conspire against adults really connecting with kids,” Benson concluded.
A comprehensive version of the report is available online at www.search-institute. org.