African American Fathers’ Parenting Practices: Constructions and Consequences Within Local Contexts
Fathers represent an important component of the family system and increasing evidence supports both direct and indirect effects of fathering on youth’s well-being (Lamb & Tamis-Lemonda, 2004). However, fathering is distinct from mothering, multifaceted, and culturally constructed (Lamb & Tamis-Lemonda, 2004; McAdoo, 2002). Much is left to be learned about fathers’ parenting practices, and the contexts and processes that influence these practices. Qualitative research conducted with fathers can broaden our understanding of the dimensions and contexts of fathering and inform new and developing fathering frameworks. In addition, children are important sources of knowledge about fathering. New quantitative techniques (i.e., LPA) allow researchers to identify father types based on the perceptions of their offspring and increase our understanding of variations in fathers and the processes and mechanisms fathers undergo in rearing their children. Cultural variations in fathering require investigations among subgroups of fathers. One group of interst is African American fathers. Many African American fathers are involved with their children, regardless of their relationship status with their child’s mother (Edin, Tach, & Mincy, 2009; King, Harris, & Heard, 2004). Still, the characteristics and impacts of African American fathers’invovlement, specifically parenting practices, are only scarcely known. Therefore, using data from qualitative and quantitative studies, the purpose of this symposium is to broaden our understanding of African American fathers’ parenting practices within local contexts in the U.S.
Papers one and two utilize qualitative data from a convenience sample of 30 African American fathers in the Mid-Atlantic region who had pre-adolescent biological sons at-risk for developing aggression and depressive symptoms. Both analyses were informed by grounded theory methods. The third paper utilized quantitative data including 660 African American youth recruited from public housing developments in three large U.S. cities. The analyses included: (1) a latent profile analysis (LPA) to identify latent classes of fathers; (2) one-way ANOVA to assess mean differences across father types on key study variables; and (3) a discriminant analysis to assess whether youth in each latent class could be successful classified based on their internalized behaviors. Results
In Paper one, the authors report fathers’ descriptions of their parenting practices such as discipline and monitoring. In Paper two, the authors report fathers’ descriptions of the values fathers instill within their sons including values such as respect, responsibility, and education.
In Paper three, the LPA identified a four class model of father types which differed significantly across key study variables. Implications
Each paper provides a unique perspective on fathering in understudied populations. Data from African American fathers’ perspectives, as well as from youth who reside in public housing projects are only scarcely available. Collectively, these papers advance the scientific knowledge base and provide a basis for the development of innovative interventions to local problems (e.g., poverty, environment) facing African American youth, fathers, and families. Implications for social work intervention, policy, and practice are discussed.