Afiya J. Watkins discusses a recent study on parenting styles and how they impact the challenges black boys face.
There has been lots of buzz surrounding the documentary, “American Promise.” Authors, Joe Brewster and Michele Stevenson asked Philadelphia author Hilary Beard to help them research and co-write a companion book.
The outcome of this collaboration is “Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life,” The book was the primary focus of discussion recently during a talk at Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia.
Beard spent time addressing the ongoing achievement gap issues while also debunking some long-held misconceptions, including statistics that show there are more black males in college than in prison and more black children in gifted & talented programs than in special education.
The auditorium at the school was brimming with eager parents, students, and educators as Beard pulled from solid research and scores of interviews to highlight “what works” in parenting and educating black boys. They were pleased and encouraged by what she had to impart.
During the discussion, most of the talk turned to parenting styles and strategies that have been proven most effective in supporting black boys. Beard combined the findings of research from some of the greatest minds in the fields of psychology, education, health, and child development.
She laid out the four basic parenting styles, all a mixture of how responsive and demanding parents are:
- Authoritarian Parents– Highly demanding and monitor their child closely, but are low in responsiveness.
- Permissive Parents– High in responsiveness, but low in monitoring and are rarely demanding of their children.
- Neglectful Parents– Low in responsiveness, low in monitoring, and low in how much they demand from their children.
- Authoritative Parents- High in responsiveness, high in monitoring, and high in how much they demand from their children.
Thorough in her presentation, Beard also added a newer take on the traditional four above:
- Strict Authoritative Parents- High in responsiveness and monitoring, but who place even higher demands on their children than traditionally authoritative parents do.
According to Beard, 30 percent of black parents are authoritarian, 20 percent are permissive, 20 percent are neglectful, and 30 percent are some type of authoritative. She shared these statistics with her audience to bolster the reasoning behind her parenting recommendations.
Beard told the audience that black boys have the best outcomes with parents using either authoritative or strict authoritative approaches. Since black boys are typically strong, assertive children, so this would seem to make sense.
In an authoritative approach, parents are very responsive to children’s needs, feelings and perspectives. Love is both stated and shown. Children’s voices and opinions are part of decision-making processes, and there are high expectations for both performance and behavior.
Beard argued that black boys need parents who are “warm demanders.” They particularly thrive in strict authoritative homes with high behavioral and academic expectations, high monitoring, low TV usage, required chores, high responsiveness, and shared decision-making.
Black boys, in particular, need structure and if raised in authoritative homes score highest on measures of academic performance, self-esteem, self-control, and adjustment.
Often, parents come to the realization that how they’ve been parenting, hasn’t yielded the best results with their child. Knowing this, Beard offers advice for parents wanting to make the shift from permissive, authoritarian, or neglectful parenting to a more authoritative approach.
“People can shift their style by taking mini-steps, adding new behaviors that feel most comfortable to them. A parent whose style is permissive and wants to shift to the authoritative style, they can express higher expectations of their child and require more of him academically and behaviorally’, she stated.
In parenting, like most things, the best outcomes are produced by being proactive, consistent and applying best strategies early and often.
Originally appeared on BlackLifeCoaches.Net