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Parenting In the Black Community: Why Raising Children Is Different for Us

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA --- Black family relaxing on sofa together --- Image by © JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA — Black family relaxing on sofa together — Image by © JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis

It’s no secret that Black and White parents often raise their children differently. White children are frequently allowed to “explore the world,” which is exhibited by running free in public places or expressing their displeasure with a decision a parent has made. Black children, on the other hand, are taught to accept the word of their parents above all else, and are often taught to be quiet and polite when in public.

It’s also no surprise that the way a child is raised shapes the way he/she sees the world. Discipline and child-rearing (or lack thereof) also determines how the world sees a child. For example, many older Black parents and grandparents do their best to ensure that the children and grandchildren “behave” in public. This stems from a desire for Black children to be seen as non-threatening and civilized. So, in essence, part of the reason Black parents are so hard on their children is because they don’t want to perpetuate the Black stereotypes perpetuated by a racist society.

In the study Parenting Styles African American and White Families with Children–Findings From an Observational Study, research reveals that male children are parented more harshly than female children. While some Black parents do this in an attempt to prepared their sons for the realities of white Supremacy, this style of parenting often sends the message that aggression and violence are acceptable forms of behavior.

The American Sociological Association also published a 2002 study that indicates African American parents favor the disciplinarian or authoritarian approach to parenting. The study involved 302 African American adolescents and their mothers, and revealed that Black parents have more a take-charge philosophy to parenting than their white, middle-class counterparts.The study states that Black parents may be more harsh on their children in an attempt to prepare them for a world that is filled with discrimination and societal biases that do not favor people of color.

There is also a strong religious component to Black parenting when compared to white parenting. Another study conducted by the American Sociological Association reveals that regardless of social class, Black parents were more likely to send their children to Bible camp and Sunday school, while their white peers encouraged their children to participate in activities such as piano lessons and soccer camp.

These factors reveal that not a great deal has changed in terms of the values African Americans hold dear in terms of child-rearing. While raising children who are structure and hard-working is important, regardless of ethnicity, the data suggests that a balance of discipline and encouragement is necessary for Black children.

Spending quality time with children, learning their interests, and enforcing chores and household duties while encouraging social time are among the ways Black parents can teach their children the values of respect and responsibility, while encouraging healthy parent/child interaction and enhancing the child’s social skills and worth ethic. Enforcing these ideals can help to ease the fear some Black parents have about the fate of their children in the real world. Promoting a balanced approach to life can also increase the chances that the child will grow into a productive and well-rounded member of the community.


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