243479 "You can't be a professional woman and not know how to cook.": How Black mothers socialize their adolescent daughters into womanhood

Monday, October 31, 2011: 3:30 PM

Tracy R. Nichols, PhD , Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Regina McCoy Pulliam, MPH , Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Background/Significance: Black mothers' socialization of their daughters has been portrayed as focused on self-reliance and strength. It has also been suggested that Black mothers have a unique influence on their daughters' expectations of gender roles and sexual relationships. Since mother-daughter relationships may be particularly salient to the health practices of Black adolescent girls, it is important to understand the socialization practices used by Black mothers to instill messages of pride, independence and gender expectations within their daughters. Objective/Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how Black mothers conveyed their expectations of Black womanhood to their adolescent daughters and how their daughters received these messages. Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with Black mothers (N=10) and their adolescent daughters (N=13) recruited through local community agencies and churches. Narrative profiles were constructed to identify participants' perceptions of one another and of their relationship. Profiles were condensed into analytic poems that were compared and contrasted across roles and within and across dyads/triads. Results: Analyses reveal how mothers balanced messages of independence and self-sufficiency with other cultural expectations of Black womanhood. In addition, mothers' personal experiences, as daughters and as partners within heterosexual relationships, shaped both the messages they give their daughters and the strategies they used to impart these messages. Discussion/Conclusions: Findings are discussed within the extended literature on Black motherhood and mother-daughter relations. In addition the impact of Black mothering on girls' adjustment and well-being will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
(1) Discuss Black mothers’ socialization of their adolescent daughters (2) Identify gendered expectations of Black womanhood (3) Describe how Black mothers balance conflicting demands of Black womanhood in messages to their adolescent daughters

Keywords: African American, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a tenured faculty member in Public Health Education and have been conducting research on adolescent behavior and using qualitative methodologies for over 20 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.