“Doing the best we can”. Black Parenting Couples’ Discussions of the Racial Socialization Process: A Mixed-methods Analysis


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Racial socialization is one of the most important parenting practices Black parents undertake as a means of promoting the well-being of Black children (McAdoo, 2002). Prior research has identified several types of messages parents may convey to youth, as well as a number of individual and contextual factors that may impact the content, frequency, and delivery of these messages. However, the extant literature has not yet examined the ways in which Black coparents socialize around race together. Moreover, much of the work examining parental racial socialization has focused on quantitative survey methods, limiting our ability to truly understand these processes. Integrating key principles from the racial socialization and family systems (i.e., coparenting) literatures, this convergent (Qual + Quan) mixed methods investigation sought to understand the ways in which Black parenting couples navigate the racial socialization process by: a) investigating the nature of parental communications about racial socialization; b) understanding and operationalizing successful navigation of the racial socialization agenda; and c) examining the ways in which individual (e.g., racial identity), couple-level (e.g., relationship satisfaction), and contextual (e.g., neighborhood composition) correlates influenced both the occurrence and success of dialogue about racial socialization. In the quantitative strand, 44 Black married and cohabiting parenting couples completed surveys and 91% (n= 40) also responded to two racial socialization vignettes, which were videotaped and coded. Parents and their partner’s scores on the survey questions were used to assess the occurrence and success of dyadic discussions around race using both self-report and observer reported methods. Results from a series of actor-partner interdependence models (APIM) revealed significant actor and partner effects for all factor types (i.e., individual, couple, contextual). A 10-couple subsample was also interviewed and asked questions about how they communicate and co-parent around race. A number of relevant subthemes emerged relating to the nature of dyadic conversations, determinants of decisions to deliver messages, division of labor, and coparenting dynamics specific to racial socialization. Data from the two strands were integrated, with emerging themes being compared and contrasted with the quantitative findings. Implications, strengths and limitations of the current study are discussed, and areas of future research for deepening our understanding of how parents traverse this important and often challenging process are presented.

Fahs-Beck Scholars

Meet the Scholars

Fahs-Beck Fellows

Meet the Fellows


Our grant programs are changing.


Learn more