An exploration of family of origin and contextual influences on African American women's perception of men and their experience of romantic relationships
Larkins, Danielle Canise
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African American family life has traditionally been viewed from a deficit perspective (Billingsley, 1992) in which it was assumed that the absence of a residential father figure was equivalent with several detrimental outcomes for children (Gadsden, 1995) and social ills within the African American community (Moynihan, 1965, Franklin, 1950). Explorations of family process that go beyond linking family structure with child outcome have only recently emerged within the literature and these explorations remain rare. Furthermore, qualitative inquiry into the long-term impact of family of origin and contextual influence on adult women’s beliefs about men and relationships is rare. This study focuses on the manner in which familial interactions impact African American women’s perceptions of men and their experience of relationships. Through open-ended interviews with five African American women, this study demonstrated the impact of non-residential father figures, other early male influences, and the observation of romantic relationships within one’s family of origin on black women’s perceptions and behavior in relationships. Some environmental influence was also evident.