Raising African American Boys: An Exploration of Gender and Racial Socialization Practices

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Abstract

Although parental socialization practices are critical to a child’s social development, little is known of the details of how parental practices function to meet the specific challenges of supporting young boys’ development as African American and men. Accordingly, this article offers a window onto how 15 parents of African American boys (ages 3–8) conceive and implement strategies for their sons’ social and emotional development. Using ethnographic observations and structured interview data, this article explores the ways they promote emerging racial and gender identities and socioemotional well-being. Findings reveal that highly incongruous messages and expectations are communicated to young boys about race and gender. The study’s findings have implications for young African American boys’ emerging racial and gender identities.

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