Unheard voices: African american fathers speak about their parenting practices

Otima Doyle, Trenette T. Clark, Qiana Cryer-Coupet, Von E. Nebbitt, David B. Goldston, Sue E. Estroff, Ifrah Magan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers have called for qualitative investigations into African American fathers' parenting practices that consider their social context and identify specific practices. Such investigations can inform the way we conceptualize African American fathers' parenting practices, which can in turn contribute to prevention interventions with at-risk youth. We conducted semistructured, qualitative interviews about parenting with 30 self-identified, African American, biological fathers of preadolescent sons at risk for developing aggressive behaviors, depressive symptoms, or both. Fathers provided descriptions of their parenting practices, which were at times influenced by their environmental context, fathers' residential status, and masculine ideologies. Our systematic analysis revealed 4 related themes from the data: managing emotions, encouragement, discipline, and monitoring. Of particular note, fathers in the current sample emphasized the importance of teaching their sons to manage difficult emotions, largely used language consistent with male ideologies (i.e., encouragement rather than love or nurturance), and engaged in high levels of monitoring and discipline in response to perceived environmental challenges and the developmental needs of their sons. The findings provide deeper insight into the parenting practices of African American fathers who are largely understudied, and often misunderstood. Further, these findings highlight considerations that may have important implications for father-focused prevention interventions that support African American fathers, youth, and families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • African american fathers
  • At-risk youth
  • Parenting practices
  • Prevention
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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