|of natural aptitude in math and science also varied. In this sense, the idea of a "typical" Black son in the "typical" middle-class Black family has no meaning as applied to these youth.|
|Finally, these sons are keenly aware of the disregard for Black males in society and the negative expectations and stereotypes surrounding them. They note the special costs and challenges these entail, and the greater number of obstacles and distractions that may lead young Black males, more so than Whites, to "fall off the path"--that is, to succumb to negative influences, expectations, and stereotypes. 22 However, their parents, and perhaps especially their dads, serve as immediate, in-the-flesh embodiments of the reality that African Americans can overcome stereotypes and negative peer influence and forge rewarding paths toward personal, academic, and career success.|
We highlighted a number of distinctive features of four subgroups. Sons growing up in households with a single parent who did not have a college degree, for example, emphasize parental "pushing" and discipline, negative peer pressure, and strong maternal presence as primary themes. Sons growing up in households with a single parent with a college degree highlighted the importance of parental academic help, extended family, and religion, along with negative peer pressure and a primary maternal bond. Among sons growing up with both parents, neither of whom had a college degree, distinctive themes included the mother and father playing different roles in the family, the importance of respecting parents and other adults, and the central roles played by religion and extended family. Finally, among sons from college-educated two-parent families, themes emphasized included parents serving as both authority figures and friends, fathers serving as professional role models, and the sons having to cope with mixed- race or primarily White schools and neighborhoods.
The tapestries of the sons' lives are quite diverse in terms of the specific combinations of challenges they faced and the particular sets of factors that contributed to their ability to meet these challenges and beat the odds. No two sons faced exactly the same circumstances or succeeded due to the same combination of factors. The marital status of the parents and their level of college education helped to differentiate among groups of sons in terms of the challenges they faced and the parenting resources available to help them overcome these challenges. Within each grouping, the unique qualities of the sons and parents, together with the distinctive aspects of the sons' living situations, pro-