Racial Socialization, Observed Maternal Conflict Behaviors, and Externalizing Problems in Black Mother- Adolescent Dyads

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African Americans living in the United States face unique stressors as a result of being part of a marginalized group that has been consistently at the bottom of the social structure system. We see the impact of systemic racism when we look at the racial disparities associated with various economic, political, and civil rights in our society. The emphasis on rules and strict parenting in African American families is related to the need that many African American parents feel to protect and inform their children of the many forms of racial discrimination they will face in American society. In order to raise children who are less likely to be engaged in risk behaviors and better prepared for the environment they are living in, African American parents enforce stricter rules and discipline for their children and utilize racial socialization as a unique parenting strategy. Adolescents who struggle for behavioral autonomy in areas where parents try to emphasize their control, often engage in deviant behavior and are more at risk of struggling to be compliant with rules and adjusting as they grow and develop. Some research has indicated that parent-child conflict has increased when there has been a focus on rules due to adolescents’ desire for autonomy. The role of maternal conflict as a contextual factor when delivering racial socialization messages has not been studied and may have significant impacts on the transmission and reception of such messages. This study aims to address the gap in research and connect the contextual factors of parent-child relationship quality in influencing the transmission and reception of racial socialization messages as seen by the impact on externalizing behaviors in adolescents.