Tim MarshallWhy some relationships matter more than others?

Think about the relationships you had with peers and adults when you were growing up – parents, teachers, family members, pastors, neighbours, friends. I’m guessing you could divide those into ‘good, bad and ugly’, depending on whether those relationships were healthy or not.

Did you have someone who influenced you an incredibly positive way? What was it about that relationship that helped you grow, make the right choices, thrive? Why are some relationships transformative while others less so?

The Search Institute (USA) sought to answer these questions in a recent study. They discovered that ‘the number and intensity of high quality relationships in young people’s lives is linked to a broad range of positive outcomes, including increased student engagement, improved academic motivation, better grades, higher aspirations for the future’ and many more.

They termed them Developmental Relationships: ‘close connections that powerfully and positively shape young people’s identities and help them develop thriving mind-sets’.

They discovered twenty actions that make a relationship developmental, organised into a five part framework:

1) Express CARE – pay attention when you are with me; commit time and energy to doing things for and with me; be dependable;

2) CHALLENGE Growth – inspire me; stretch me; hold me accountable to appropriate boundaries;

3) Provide SUPPORT – encourage me, guide me and stand up for me when I need it;

4) Share POWER – hear my voice and let me share in making decisions;

5) Expand POSSIBILITIES – expand my horizons and connect me to opportunities.

You can download the Developmental Relationships Framework for free on their website: www.search-institute.org.

Who do YOU have a developmental relationship with? How many young people are thriving because you intentionally and intelligently love them?

You may not have had that experience yourself, but you do have the opportunity help build this nation one life at a time. As Josh Shipp said, “Every child is just one caring adult away from being a success story”.
Rev Tim Marshall is the Youth Director at Walmer Methodist Church.