Parental Connectedness: What is it?

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This is the first in a series of blogs about parental connectedness. “Parental connectedness” is a term researchers often use when talking about kids and the risks that they face. So what does it mean to you and me?

One good description of the word connectedness says:
“What is connectedness? It is a sense of being a part of something larger than oneself. It is a sense of belonging, or a sense of accompaniment. It is that feeling in your bones that you are not alone. It is a sense that, no matter how scary things may become, there is a hand for you in the dark. While ambition drives us to achieve, connectedness is my word for the force that urges us to ally, to affiliate, to enter into mutual relationships, to take strength and to grow through cooperative behavior.” (The TLT Group – Teaching, Learning and Technology)

So when we are talking about parental-child connectedness, this can mean that kids have a sense that their parents are always there, no matter what. It might mean they have confidence that their bond with their parents is consistent and assured. They are assured that when they hurt, their parents hurt; when they rejoice, their parents rejoice.

One of the great research projects measuring connectedness studied kids and high-risk behaviors, examining both school connectedness and parent-family connectedness. Conducted by Dr. Michael Resnick, a researcher from the University of Minnesota, this study reported that “Parent-family connectedness and perceived school connectedness were protective against every health risk behavior measure except history of pregnancy.” The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.