In a study of about 900 African American families in the U.S. states of Iowa and Georgia, involved, vigilant parenting during middle childhood protected children from the negative impacts of experiencing racial discrimination. This type of parenting was characterized by warmth, acceptance, and responsiveness, as well as by less controlling and harsh behavior. Involved, vigilant parenting is key to children developing the capacity to regulate their emotions and avoid poor mental health outcomes that can emerge from racism. This confirms findings from earlier research of African American families, with associations between positive parent-child relationships in middle childhood and adolescents having skills to make decisions, pay attention, avoid distraction, set priorities, and control emotions.
In this study, the researchers make the case that, given how typical the experience of racial discrimination is in African American families, it is important to understand these strength-based, cultural parenting assets.