Character Strengths and Parenting
Summary of Research Findings
Strengths-based parenting is a new area of research that examines the process and benefits of parents being aware of and using their own character strengths when parenting, as well as parents’ recognition, encouragement, exploration, and reinforcement of the character strengths of their children.
- A rare positive psychology study of families found that families who engaged in positive interventions were significantly happier than families in a control group; the study emphasizes the importance of strengths-spotting practices in the family system (Waters, 2020).
Waters, L. (2020). Using positive psychology interventions to strengthen family happiness: A family systems approach. Journal of Positive Psychology, 15(5), 645-652. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2020.1789704
- In a Peruvian sample of LGBTQ+ adults who had “come out,” posttraumatic stress symptoms (bodily, cognitive, and sleep symptoms) and posttraumatic growth were present. Moreover, strengths-based parenting showed a protective role in reducing posttraumatic stress symptoms and increasing posttraumatic growth (Zavala & Waters, 2020).
Zavala, C., & Waters, L. (2020). Coming out as LGBTQ+: The role of strength-based parenting on posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Happiness Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00276-y
- Examined associations between parenting practices and character strengths across childhood age differences and noted a myriad of findings including that communication and psychological needs support predicted global character strengths across age groups (Shubert et al., 2019).
Shubert, J., Wray-Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., & Metzger, A. (2019). The role of family civic context in character development across childhood and adolescence. Applied Developmental Science. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2019.1683452
- Strengths-based parenting of adolescents had a significant positive effect on academic achievement and predicted engagement and perseverance of teens (Waters, Loton, & Jach, 2019).
Waters, L. E., Loton, D., & Jach, H. K. (2019). Does strength based parenting predict academic achievement? The mediating effects of perseverance and engagement. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20, 1121-1140.
- A strengths-based parenting study found that adolescents who view their parents as strengths-based report higher well-being and greater strengths use, especially when they have a growth mindset about strengths (Jach et al., 2018).
Jach, H. K., Sun, J., Loton, D., Chin, T. C., & Waters, L. E. (2018). Strengths and subjective wellbeing in adolescence: Strength-based parenting and the moderating effect of mindset. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19, 567-586. DOI: 10.1007/s10902-016-9841-y
- A 3-week intervention on strengths-based parenting involved teaching parents how to identify and cultivate strengths in themselves and in their children. In comparison with a waitlist control group, the strengths-based intervention group showed increases in positive emotions when thinking about their children and higher levels of self-efficacy (Waters & Sun, 2017).
Waters, L., & Sun, J. (2017). Can a brief strength-based parenting intervention boost self-efficacy and positive emotions in parents? International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology. DOI: DOI 10.1007/s41042-017-0007-x
- Strengths-based parenting was found to relate significantly to strengths-based coping in children and negatively to stress levels. It is suggested that strengths-based parenting encourages children to use more strengths-based coping when they face stress and adversity, which partially explains these beneficial outcomes (Waters, 2015).
Waters, L. (2015). The relationship between strength-based parenting with children’s stress levels and strength-based coping approaches. Psychology, 6, 689-699.
- Strengths-based parenting is significantly connected with life satisfaction in adolescents. Strengths-based parenting contributes to teenager life satisfaction above and beyond the benefits of authoritative parenting, and strengths-based parenting predicted life satisfaction in teenagers one year later. Parent awareness of their teen’s strengths and encouragement of strengths use explained teenagers’ life satisfaction beyond the teenagers’ own awareness and use (Waters, 2015).
Waters, L. (2015). Strength-based parenting and life satisfaction in teenagers. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 2(11), 158-173. DOI:10.14738/assrj.211.1651158B173.
Updated May 2021