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Research on Resiliency in African American Families Carolyn E. Cutrona Frederick X. Gibbons Iowa State University Ron Simons University of Georgia.

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Presentation on theme: "Research on Resiliency in African American Families Carolyn E. Cutrona Frederick X. Gibbons Iowa State University Ron Simons University of Georgia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research on Resiliency in African American Families Carolyn E. Cutrona Frederick X. Gibbons Iowa State University Ron Simons University of Georgia

2 What is resiliency? Overcoming adversityOvercoming adversity Achieving despite disadvantagesAchieving despite disadvantages “Doing better” than expected, given the circumstances“Doing better” than expected, given the circumstances

3 Goal of this Presentation To describe examples of resiliency among African American families who are currently participating in a large study: The Family and Community Health StudyTo describe examples of resiliency among African American families who are currently participating in a large study: The Family and Community Health Study

4 The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) Who is in the study?Who is in the study? –897 African American youths and their families Where were the families recruited?Where were the families recruited? –Iowa (Des Moines and Waterloo) –North Central Georgia

5 The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) When were families interviewed?When were families interviewed? –When the “target child” was in Fifth gradeFifth grade Seventh gradeSeventh grade Tenth gradeTenth grade Currently preparing to interview youth at age 17-18Currently preparing to interview youth at age 17-18

6 The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) What is unique about the FACHS study?What is unique about the FACHS study? –It is the largest study ever conducted that follows African American families over time –It does NOT focus on inner-city African Americans, but includes families from moderate-sized cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural areas.

7 The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) What is unique about the FACHS study? –T–T–T–The study includes families with a wide range of incomes – from poverty to affluence. –M–M–M–Most previous studies have focused exclusively on poor African American families. –E–E–E–Effects of poverty often attributed to race.

8 Stressors Racial DiscriminationRacial Discrimination Family PovertyFamily Poverty Neighborhood Poverty and DisorderNeighborhood Poverty and Disorder Work StressWork Stress

9 Resiliency Factors High quality parentingHigh quality parenting Youth involvement in activitiesYouth involvement in activities Sibling prosocial behaviorSibling prosocial behavior Family routinesFamily routines

10 Parenting Behaviors, Racial Discrimination, and Child Conduct Problems Ron Simons University of Georgia

11 When do stressful events increase risk for negative behaviors? Exposure to stressful life events increases delinquent behavior when the events are:Exposure to stressful life events increases delinquent behavior when the events are: –Viewed as unjust –Threaten important activities or identity –Uncontrollable (Agnew, 2001)(Agnew, 2001)

12 Effects of Experiences of Perceived Racial Discrimination Perceived discrimination increases an individual’s risk for:Perceived discrimination increases an individual’s risk for: –Conduct problems –Delinquency –Crime (DeBois, et al., 2002; McCord & Ensminger, 2002; Simons et al., 2003)(DeBois, et al., 2002; McCord & Ensminger, 2002; Simons et al., 2003)

13 What can parents do? Warmth and supportWarmth and support –Reduce child’s feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness ReasoningReasoning –Help child understand that discrimination reflects immorality by the perpetrator, not inferiority in himself –Argue against aggression as a response to frustration

14 What can parents do? Encourage development of the child’s skillsEncourage development of the child’s skills –Combats feelings of worthlessness Encourage activities that promote belonging and social integrationEncourage activities that promote belonging and social integration –Combats feelings of being an “outsider”

15 Predictions Parental warmth, reasoning, and support for extracurricular activities will reduce the probability that youth experiences of racial discrimination will lead to delinquency among boys at ages 10 and 12.Parental warmth, reasoning, and support for extracurricular activities will reduce the probability that youth experiences of racial discrimination will lead to delinquency among boys at ages 10 and 12.

16 Discrimination Measure Measured perceived discrimination with 13-item scale (Example: “How often has someone yelled a racial slur or racial insult at you just because you are African American?”)Measured perceived discrimination with 13-item scale (Example: “How often has someone yelled a racial slur or racial insult at you just because you are African American?”)

17 Delinquency Measure BullyingBullying Initiating fightsInitiating fights Physical cruelty to person or animalPhysical cruelty to person or animal Stealing with confrontationStealing with confrontation Setting firesSetting fires Destroying propertyDestroying property Using a weaponUsing a weapon

18 Parenting Measures Well-validated measures ofWell-validated measures of –Warmth and support –Inductive reasoning Discipline by explaining, reasoningDiscipline by explaining, reasoning Explaining reasons for rulesExplaining reasons for rules –Encouragement of extracurricular activities Helped or encouraged child to become involved in scouts, sports, music, etc.Helped or encouraged child to become involved in scouts, sports, music, etc.

19 Discrimination Findings 67% of youth had experienced racial insults67% of youth had experienced racial insults 43% had been unjustly accused of wrongdoing43% had been unjustly accused of wrongdoing 33% had been excluded from an activity33% had been excluded from an activity 18% had been physically harmed18% had been physically harmed 48% reported that family members had been treated unfairly because of race48% reported that family members had been treated unfairly because of race

20 Delinquency Findings Between ages 10 and 12:Between ages 10 and 12: –39% had been in a fight –11% had hurt someone else –10% had bullied –5% had destroyed property –4% had mistreated animals –3% had used a weapon –1% had stolen with confrontation

21 Predicting delinquent behaviors between age 10 and age 12 The strongest predictorThe strongest predictor –Amount of perceived discrimination was the strongest predictor of an increase in delinquent behavior (B =.27). Also significant:Also significant: –Parental warmth predicted lower delinquency (B = -.14) –Parental inductive reasoning predicted lower delinquency (B = -.10)

22 The effect of discrimination on delinquency is WEAKER If parentsIf parents –Are warm –Use inductive reasoning –Encourage participation in extracurricular activities Conclusion:Conclusion: –Parents can be an important source of resiliency

23 Perceived Discrimination and Substance Use Frederick Gibbons, Meg Gerrard, Michael Cleveland, Thomas Wills & Gene Brody

24 Racial Discrimination and Substance Use Perceived racial discrimination causes emotional distressPerceived racial discrimination causes emotional distress –Some people use substances to cope with the negative emotions caused by discrimination Perceived racial discrimination may produce negative attitudesPerceived racial discrimination may produce negative attitudes –Alienation, rejection of conventional values, and acceptance of deviant behavior.

25 Substance Use Results (Tobacco and alcohol only) Age 10Age 10 –89% none –8% low –3% high Age 12Age 12 –78% none –10% low –12% high

26 What happens when both parents and children experience discrimination?

27 Results 1. For both parents and children, racial discrimination predicted higher substance use.1. For both parents and children, racial discrimination predicted higher substance use. 2. Parents reacted to racial discrimination against their child with higher substance use.2. Parents reacted to racial discrimination against their child with higher substance use. 3. Children reacted to racial discrimination against their parents with higher substance use.3. Children reacted to racial discrimination against their parents with higher substance use.

28 What can parents do to prevent child substance use? Effective parentingEffective parenting –Monitoring –Communication –Warmth Good parenting can:Good parenting can: –Reduce child distress –Discourage alienation and acceptance of deviant behavior

29 Results Among youth, discrimination increased distress and substance use.Among youth, discrimination increased distress and substance use. Effective parenting decreased youth alienation and acceptance of deviant behaviorEffective parenting decreased youth alienation and acceptance of deviant behavior Effective parenting decreased youth substance useEffective parenting decreased youth substance use Once again, good parenting was a resilience factor.Once again, good parenting was a resilience factor.

30 Parenting and Older Sibling Behaviors Predicting Conduct Problems Gene Brody, University of Georgia Frederick Gibbons, Meg Gerrard Iowa State University

31 Multiple family members can serve a resiliency function As shown in previous slides, good parenting is associated with less delinquency and drug use.As shown in previous slides, good parenting is associated with less delinquency and drug use. In addition, an older sibling can have a positive effect on youth.In addition, an older sibling can have a positive effect on youth.

32 Older Sibling Influence - Results 10 year old youth are less likely to have conduct problems if their older sibling:10 year old youth are less likely to have conduct problems if their older sibling: –Gets good grades in school –Does not use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs –Does not endorse anti-social attitudes Sibling influence can counteract low quality parentingSibling influence can counteract low quality parenting

33 Maternal Work Demands, Child Adjustment, and Family Routines Teru Toyokawa Vonnie McLoyd University of Michigan

34 Work Demands A very high proportion of African American mothers work outside of the homeA very high proportion of African American mothers work outside of the home High work demands can demoralize workersHigh work demands can demoralize workers Demoralization can impede parenting quality, which leads to poor behavior by the childDemoralization can impede parenting quality, which leads to poor behavior by the child

35 Family Routines Child does household chores regularlyChild does household chores regularly Same bedtime every nightSame bedtime every night Homework at the same time each dayHomework at the same time each day Mother helps with homeworkMother helps with homework Family eats meals togetherFamily eats meals together

36 Resiliency from family routines Especially among families headed by a single mother, even when work demands are high, regular family routines predictEspecially among families headed by a single mother, even when work demands are high, regular family routines predict –Fewer behavior problems in child –Less depression in child

37 Conclusions

38 African American families encounter many forms of stressAfrican American families encounter many forms of stress –Racial discrimination –Poverty –Heavy work burdens

39 Despite these sources of stress, African American youth show resiliency when they have:Despite these sources of stress, African American youth show resiliency when they have: – Warm, involved parents –Parents who supervise, explain, and communicate well –Older siblings who model good behavior –Families who follow regular routines


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