Marital Processes and Parental Socialization in Families of Color: A Decade Review of Research

By McLoyd, Vonnie M.; Cauce, Ana Mari et al. | Journal of Marriage and Family, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Marital Processes and Parental Socialization in Families of Color: A Decade Review of Research


McLoyd, Vonnie M., Cauce, Ana Mari, Takeuchi, David, Wilson, Leon, Journal of Marriage and Family


Research published during the past decade on African American, Latino, and Asian American families is reviewed. Emphasis is given to selected issues within the broad domains of marriage and parenting. The first section highlights demographic trends in family formation and family structure and factors that contributed to secular changes in family structure among African Americans. In the second section, new conceptualizations of marital relations within Latino families are discussed, along with research documenting the complexities in African American men's conceptions of manhood. Studies examining within-group variation in marital conflict and racial and ethnic differences in division of household labor, marital relations,

and children's adjustment to marital and family conflict also are reviewed. The third section gives attention to research on (a) paternal involvement among fathers of color; (b) the relation of parenting behavior to race and ethnicity, grandmother involvement, neighborhood and peer characteristics, and immigration; and (c) racial and ethnic socialization. The article concludes with an overview of recent advances in the study of families of color and important challenges and issues that represent research opportunities for the new decade.

Key Words: families of color, marital processes, parenting.

As a review that closes out a decade and a century, leaving us perched to begin a new millennium, we are bid not only to look backward at what has happened, but also to look forward into the future. A look forward reveals a U.S. demographic profile that will be strikingly different than profiles of prior eras. In the 21st century, our country will no longer be overwhelmingly White; we can no longer describe it as simply "Black and White." It will instead be fully multicultural, equally divided between non-Hispanic European Americans and those of other racial and ethnic groups. Among people of color, Hispanics will become the largest group soon after the turn of the century. Asian American and Pacific Islanders will increase at the most rapid rate, although Hispanics will add more actual numbers to the U.S. population in the next century. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to be 8% Asian American, 14% African American, 25% Hispanic, and 53% non-Hispanic White. This differential increase in people of color in the United States over the next several decades is due both to increased fertility rates and to the younger average ages of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. It is also due to increased immigration among the latter two groups (Lee, 1998; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995, 1997a).

Yet, if we look backward at the research that has been published in social science journals over the last 10 years, such changes are scarcely reflected. Instead, notwithstanding some sparing changes in the last decade, our research, especially that in the quantitative domain, continues to largely reflect what Collins (1990) called biracial or dichotomous thinking, where the normative work is conducted using European American families and the "minority" perspective is represented via an examination of African American families. Our review necessarily reflects this fact, with the bulk of the empirical research we examine focusing on African American families. Wherever possible we present research that has been conducted on Hispanic and Asian American families. We also discuss briefly the new conceptual and theoretical frameworks that have been put forth to inform this research. Remarkably little research has been conducted on American Indian families. (For a few examples of recent research focusing on this understudied group, see McCubbin, Thompson, Thompson, & Fromer, 1998.) We present pertinent demographic information on this group wherever possible but make no attempt to summarize a knowledge base so small that generalizations are speculative at best.

We limit our review to selected issues within the broad domains of marriage and parental socialization. …

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