The Impact of African American Parents’ Racial Discrimination Experiences and Perceived Neighborhood Cohesion on their Racial Socialization Practices

Abstract

Parental racial socialization is a parenting tool used to prepare African American adolescents for managing racial stressors. While it is known that parents’ racial discrimination experiences affect the racial socialization messages they provide, little is known about the influence of factors that promote supportive and communal parenting, such as perceived neighborhood cohesion. In cohesive neighborhoods, neighbors may help parents address racial discrimination by monitoring youth and conveying racial socialization messages; additionally, the effect of neighborhood cohesion on parents’ racial socialization may differ for boys and girls because parents socialize adolescents about race differently based on expected encounters with racial discrimination. Therefore, the current study examines how parents’ perception of neighborhood cohesion and adolescents’ gender moderate associations between parents’ racial discrimination experiences and the racial socialization messages they deliver to their adolescents. Participants were a community sample of 608 African American adolescents (54 % girls; mean age = 15.5) and their primary caregivers (86 % biological mothers; mean age = 42.0). Structural equation modeling indicated that parental racial discrimination was associated with more promotion of mistrust messages for boys and girls in communities with low neighborhood cohesion. In addition, parental racial discrimination was associated with more cultural socialization messages about racial pride and history for boys in neighborhoods with low neighborhood cohesion. The findings suggest that parents’ racial socialization messages are influenced by their own racial discrimination experiences and the cohesiveness of the neighborhood; furthermore, the content of parental messages delivered varies based on adolescents’ gender.

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Author Contributions

FS conceived the study, performed interpretation of the data, drafted significant portions of the introduction and discussion, and conducted revisions and edits; DE conducted the statistical analysis, drafted significant portions of the methods sections, and edited to the manuscript; DB assisted in the interpretation of the data, drafting significant portions of the introduction and discussion, conducing critical revisions, and contributed to the literature review; SL assisted in design of the study, interpretation of the data, and provided critical feedback and editing on manuscript drafts; AH assisted with literature review, contributed to drafting portions of the methods section, and provided edits and feedback on the manuscript; MS provided feedback on the design of the study and provided edits and feedback on the manuscript; RG was responsible for the design and coordination of the study and provided feedback and edits on the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Farzana T. Saleem.

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The research was carried out in accordance to APA standards for the treatment of individuals participating in research studies with the Committee on Human Research.

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This work was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse Grants DA018871 and DA021898 and by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH062668.

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Participants completed informed consent in each wave of the FACHS data collection.

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Saleem, F.T., English, D., Busby, D.R. et al. The Impact of African American Parents’ Racial Discrimination Experiences and Perceived Neighborhood Cohesion on their Racial Socialization Practices. J Youth Adolescence 45, 1338–1349 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0499-x

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Keywords

  • Racial socialization
  • Racial discrimination
  • Parenting practices