African American Fathering in Violent Neighborhoods : What Role Does Spirituality Play?

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Letiecq, Bethany L.
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Journal Article
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The salience of spirituality in African American family life is well documented. However, less is known about the role of spirituality in the parenting styles and practices of African American fathers generally or among those fathers rearing children in under-resourced, high-violence neighborhoods. African American families are disproportionately represented in communities characterized by violence, crime, and drug activity. This study explores how fathers residing in these neighborhoods rear their preschool sons and daughters and how spirituality relates to their fathering practices and styles. Study participants included 61 African American fathers of preschoolers attending Head Start. Findings revealed that, regardless of their child's sex, highly spiritual fathers were more likely to use proactive parenting practices to decrease their child's exposure to violence. Further, highly spiritual fathers were significantly more likely to use an authoritative parenting style and less likely to use a permissive style with their sons than fathers who reported spirituality as less important. Implications for future research are discussed. (Author abstract)

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