Academic journal article Family Relations

African American Fathers' Racial Socialization Patterns: Associations with Racial Identity Beliefs and Discrimination Experiences

Academic journal article Family Relations

African American Fathers' Racial Socialization Patterns: Associations with Racial Identity Beliefs and Discrimination Experiences

Article excerpt

Racial socialization has been defined as the mechanism through which parents transmit the behaviors, perceptions, values, and attitudes of their racial or ethnic group (Hughes et al., 2006). Studies have noted the importance of several dimensions, which include the cultivation of group pride, discrimination coping strategies, intraracial communications, promoting personal and educational development, as well as views about racial equality (Boykin & Ellison, 1995; Hughes et al., 2006; Rodriguez, Umaña-Taylor, Smith, & Johnson, 2009; Stevenson, Herrero-Taylor, Cameron, & Davis, 2002). One important gap in the literature is the lack of attention directed toward understanding fathers' race-related socialization practices. Although some studies have explored racial socialization among African American fathers (e.g., McHale et al., 2006), these studies have focused almost exclusively on two dimensions (e.g., racial/cultural pride, preparation for bias) and have not examined diversity in the types of messages fathers communicate. Moreover, as studies have demonstrated that racial socialization operates conjointly (e.g., Neblett, Smalls, Ford, Nguyen, & Sellers, 2008; White-Johnson, Ford, & Sellers, 2010), little attention has been given to fathers' concerted racial socialization efforts. Taking this into consideration, this investigation uses a profile-oriented approach (i.e., identification of patterns across several dimensions) to better understand the racial socialization practices of African American fathers.

Additionally, a profile-oriented approach may be especially useful in illuminating how fathers' social experiences are related to their racial socialization practices. Ecologically grounded parenting models (e.g., Abidin, 1992; Belsky, 1984; Belsky & Jaffe, 2006) have suggested that parents' own developmental histories and social experiences influence their parenting practices. However, few studies have linked race-related experiences to African American males' parenting related behaviors, namely, their race-related socialization practices. Research has suggested that there is a distinct racial context that shapes the experiences and resultant outcomes of African American males (Franklin, 1999; Miller & Bennett, 2011). Moreover, it is presumable that these experiences would also affect interactions and discussions with their children. This link, however, has been rarely examined in the literature. This investigation seeks to address this gap by exploring the association between African American fathers' race-related experiences and their racial socialization patterns. Specifically, using the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (Sellers, Rowley, Chavous, Shelton, & Smith, 1997), this study explores whether the centrality of race as well as beliefs about one's racial group are associated with racial socialization patterns. Also, given indications that African American males report greater experiences with racial discrimination (Seaton, Caldwell, Sellers, & Jackson, 2008), this investigation considers the role of race-related encounters in the racial socialization process.

Traditional Approaches to Racial Socialization Processes among African American Fathers

Investigations have noted that ethnic minority fathers are active participants in the racial socialization process (e.g., Benner & Kim, 2009; Fagan & Stevenson, 2002; McHale et al., 2006). Among studies examining intragroup variation in African American fathers' racial socialization practices, fathers report transmitting a diverse range of racial socialization messages to their offspring, including messages regarding the promotion of racial pride and cultural history, intergroup relations, awareness of and strategies for coping with racial discrimination, as well as communications regarding personal and career self-development (e.g., importance of education, positive self-views; Crouter, Baril, Davis, & Mchale, 2008; Julion, Gross, Barclay-McLaughlin, & Fogg, 2007; Thornton, Chatters, Taylor, & Allen, 1990). …

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