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27-02-2021 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2021

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2021

African-American Mothers’ Socialization Strategies to Address Adolescent-related Academic Expectations and Risk Concerns

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2021
Nestor Tulagan, Jacquelynne S. Eccles
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Parental socialization entails purposeful and goal-driven strategies that promote positive youth development and prevent youth-related risks and challenges. Guided by a family management perspective, we examined the variety in African-American mothers’ academic expectations and risk concerns for adolescents, and the parenting strategies they employ to address each of these beliefs. We also examined the associations between mothers’ beliefs and strategies, as well as variations across adolescent gender and socioeconomic status (SES). We used open-response data collected from 619 African-American mothers of eighth-graders from Prince George’s County, Maryland, varying in adolescent gender, maternal education, family income, and family structure. We systematically coded interview data and tabulated main categories, subcategories, and first-round codes. Then, we conducted multivariate regression analyses to examine the relations between academic expectations, risk concerns, socialization strategies, and socio-demographic characteristics. Overall, mothers held high academic expectations, perceived contextual and behavioral problems for adolescents, and reported strategies that positioned them as direct and positive socializers. When mothers reported concerns for underachievement, they had increased odds of providing necessary materials and services, holding discussions, and expressing negative reactions. Finally, adolescent gender and family SES predicted academic expectations and risk concerns, as well as parenting strategies. Our study highlights the importance for studies to consider the purposeful nature of parenting, as socialization strategies were linked to specific developmental goals. Our findings call for the development of measures that capture a wider range of parenting strategies and contextualize these strategies to parents’ aims.

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