‘That Is Why We Raise Children’: African American Fathers' Race-Related Concerns for Their Adolescents and Parenting Strategies

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Journal Name
Journal of Adolescence
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Cooper, S., Burnett, M., Johnson, M., Brooks, J., Shaheed, J. & McBride, M.
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Journal Article
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The current study highlights the voices and perspectives of African American fathers, with specific emphasis on their race-related concerns for their adolescents as well as how these concerns guide their parenting strategies. Twenty-four African American fathers participated in 1.5–3-hour long focus group interviews. All fathers resided in a mid-sized city in the Southeastern United States. All participants were either biological fathers or non-biological fathers. Fathers were residential and non-residential, with at least one adolescent child. Fifty-eight percent of fathers had both male and female children, 29% had only female children and 13% had only male children. After codebook development and refinement, key themes were explored using a theoretical thematic analysis. In response to race-related and other social risks for African American adolescents, fathers articulated a number of parenting motivations and intentions: 1) fathers' own racial experiences; 2) negative media images of Black youth and families (e.g. media influences, negative stereotypes, and portrayals of Black fathers); 3) preserving families through community support; 4) developing awareness of discrimination and coping strategies; 5) cultivating positive personal and cultural identities; and 6) achievement as necessity. Also, gender emerged as a critical lens for African American fathers’ concerns and parenting strategies. Overall, our investigation highlights African American fathers’ own meaning-making around concerns for their adolescents as well as how they shape parenting processes.

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