Raising daughters, raising women : assumptions and lessons southern black american mothers teach their daughters
Nix, Patsy Marie
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This study investigated the process of parenting in Black American families from the perspective of middle class, southern Black women and sought entry into the topic from the viewpoint of college-aged daughters and, when possible, their mothers. A principal goal was to uncover and chronicle the underlying assumptions that informed southern Black women’s experiences of parenting. Daughter participants were recruited from the student population at a large southeastern university. Primary data were collected by semi-structured individual, mother-daughter, and focus group interviews. Data were analyzed using the technique of phenomenological inquiry, a technique that provides a structured means of isolating sociocultural influences and substantive themes in narrative data. Three essential assumptions were identified from narrative data: 1) a belief that women should be independent and self-reliant, 2) a belief that members of the women’s network were the most reliable sources of social, emotional, and financial resources, and 3) a belief that gender and race discrimination was a fact of life. Together, these three assumptions shaped how participants conceptualized motherhood, structured interpersonal relationships, and determined the values and life lessons conveyed to daughters. In the process of identifying essential assumptions from narrative data, a rich picture of self and family definitions, familial responsibilities, descriptions of experiences of motherhood, womanhood, values and important life lessons taught to daughters were revealed.