Parenting in preadolescence: impressions of child-rearing and academics among African American middle class families
Pryor, Jacquelyn Faye
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This qualitative ethnographic study presents an exploration of parenting practices among African American middle class families that positively contributed to the successful academic performance of their preadolescent children. I examined the question, “How do African American parents, identifying as middle class, perceive their engagement as influencing the academic outcomes of their successfully performing preadolescent children?” This research highlights under-explored forms of parental participation among self-ascribed middle class African Americans through focused analysis of activity and advocacy. The Ecologies of Parental Engagement (EPE) framework provided a theoretical lens that facilitated study of parental engagement distinctly separate from traditional perceptions of parental involvement and deficit perspectives of African American participation in their children’s educational experiences. Four Patterns of Parental Practice emerged (Support, Structure, Enlightenment, and Engagement), and related to preadolescent children’s motivation, obedience, and academic achievement. Participants defined engagement in children’s learning in accordance with access and activation of capital regardless of boundaries encountered in school institutions. The findings suggest that middle class participants remained highly involved, invested, and resilient, despite societal barriers, a counterstory that challenges continual and prevailing deficit perceptions regarding academic achievement and involvement directed toward African American families.