Academy Advice

LA Family Support--Full Content for Expand Possibilities

The Developmental Relationships Framework

Young people are more likely to grow up successfully when they experience developmental relationships with important people in their lives. Developmental relationships are close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them.

When kids experience these five keys in their relationships with parents, they develop attitudes and skills that will help them throughout their lives. They become more resilient, and that helps them overcome the challenges they face.

Search Institute has identified five elements that make relationships powerful in young people's lives. (Source: Each month we will highlight one of the elements and share practical ways to build this in your child.

Big picture
Big picture

Developmental Relationships: Expand Possibilities

What does that look like?

  • Inspire: Inspire them to see possibilities for their future.
  • Broaden Horizons: Expose them to new ideas, experiences, and places.
  • Connect: Introduce them to people who can help them grow.

Bottom Line: Connect them with people and places that broaden their world.

Discussion Starters to Expand Possibilities

It can be exciting and stimulating for family members to help each other explore new possibilities together.

  • What is one thing you really enjoy that someone else in the family introduced to you? How did they introduce you to it?
  • What is enjoyable about spending time with people who are different from your family? What can make it hard?
  • Who are significant people outside your immediate family who have had a big influence on your life? How have they influenced you?

Developmental Relationships: Expand Possibilities

Getting Started: Ideas for Parents

Here are some ways moms, dads, and other parenting adults expand possibilities with their kids:

  • Find ways for your children to spend time with people who are different from your family.
  • When your kids seem curious about an activity, topic, or issue, ask questions such as “what strikes you as interesting about this?”
  • Introduce your kids to a wide range of people, places, ideas, cultures, and vocations. Start with ones they’re curious about.
  • Encourage your children to try things they might be interested in. Maybe try it together.
  • Connect your kids with people you know in your extended family or community who can explore with them their areas of personal interest and strength.
  • Model being a curious learner by asking questions and sharing what you’re learning in your own own life. Learn things from your kids.

Discussion Starters with Your Kids

  1. What is one thing you really enjoy (such as music, ideas, foods) that someone else in the family introduced you to? Tell the story of how they introduced you to it.
  2. Think about the different people your family spends time with. In what ways are they similar to your family? How are they different from your family? Think about similarities and differences such as culture, political ideology, religious beliefs or practices, birth country or nationality, sexual orientation, food choices, and hobbies and interests. Are most of your family’s friends mostly like you, or do you see a lot of differences?
  3. What do you find to be enjoyable about spending time with people who are different from your family? What can make it hard?
  4. Who are (or were) significant adults outside the immediate family who have or had a big influence on your life? How did they influence you?
  5. Who has helped you deal with disappointment or working through challenges when you’ve been trying to achieve something important to you? How did they do it?
  6. What are ways we can support each other in our family when we run into roadblocks to our goals or dreams?

Discussion Starters with Other Parenting Adults*

  1. What are ways you have introduced your kids to different ideas, people, or cultures? What has worked well for you? What didn’t work out well?
  2. Sometimes we worry about our kids getting exposed to ideas or beliefs that are different from our own. How might those encounters help our kids grow?
  3. Most families spend most of their time with people who are a lot like them. What ways, if any, has your family intentionally expanded your circle of friends to include people with many different backgrounds, experiences, or beliefs? What opportunities do you see for doing that?
  4. What are areas of life where you have encouraged (or could encourage) your child to get help from an adult outside your family? How has (or could) asking someone outside the family for help made a difference?

* These parenting adults may include your spouse or partner, extended family members, friends who are parents, or a parent group or class.

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