Interpersonal Relationship: African-American Families

Topic Endorsement

Research Topic

The research topic of the proposed study is the exploration of the way African American females raised without a father describe the process of developing intimate partnerships. The participants will be adult low-income African American females (aged between 20 and 25) who were abandoned by their fathers in their childhood or adolescence. This topic is important because a vast number of African-American mothers are raising their children on their own (Brah & Phoenix, 2011). The focus of the research is on the well-being of African-American families and the psychological aspects of relationships between the mother and her children. This topic is important for general psychology because it is connected to the problem of numerous African-American families splitting without even getting divorced or, even worse, married (Biblarz & Stacey, 2010). The significance of the problem of relationships between the mother and her children is supported by the fact that almost half of all Black families are dependent on women, and three-fourths of Black children that were born throughout the last 20 years spend their childhood without their fathers (Woods-Giscombe, 2010). The issue of single-parent families is an essential element of the psychological problems that are known for triggering certain behaviors in children.

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The research on this topic will help to understand the psychological implications of the structure of a family and realize how mothers convey their knowledge and experience to their children (Roopnarine & Hossain, 2013). Considering the fact that psychology is interested in predicting and defining human behavior, the development of the children in an African-American family is a crucial topic of discussion. So as to underline the significance of this topic, this research will concentrate on the process of shaping the child’s personality and beliefs within a family consisting of a mother only (Brown, 2010). Another point that will be stressed in this paper is the presence of societal pressure and several economic problems to which African-American families are vividly exposed. From a psychological point of view, the problem of intimate relations between a single mother and her children is contingent on some dynamic factors (Coltrane, Miller, Dehaan, & Stewart, 2013).

It has repeatedly been stated that children in single-parent families are exposed to numerous mental health problems. Another psychological aspect is the self-isolation of the single mother which triggers her children to become introverted (McLanahan & Beck, 2010). Considering the external pressures, an introvert child and an introvert mother may not communicate efficiently, and this will lead to negative outcomes. This research will concentrate on the fundamental notion of a family and discuss the aspects of the parent-child communication process that have implications for the subject of psychology (Lu et al., 2010). The topic of the research signifies the importance of investigating the effect that single-motherhood has on African-American children. From a psychological point of view, it is evident that single-motherhood cannot replace the presence of the birth father (Silva, 2012). The risks of delinquent and irresponsible behavior are mitigated by the father’s support and discipline. Therefore, the topic of single African-American mothers and their ability to effectively interact with their children is of pivotal importance (Sektnan, McClelland, Acock, & Morrison, 2010). This research contributes to the current viewpoints on single-motherhood and elaborates on the topic of parental issues linked to the interpersonal relationships between the members of such family.

Research Problem

The relationship between father and daughter has a significant impact on the way females develop relationships in their adult life (Madison, 2010). Females abandoned by their fathers in their childhood or adolescence tend to have quite specific perspectives on intimate partnerships (Makusha, Richter, Knight, Van Rooyen, & Bhana, 2013). These women’s childhood (or adolescent) experiences may have a considerable effect on the process of intimate partnership development. Females may have some specific views on the stages of the process, the partner’s characteristics (physical, emotional, socioeconomic, and so on), values cherished in the partnership, and so on (Wildeman, 2010). The existing literature on the subject emphasizes the conditions in which African-American children are raised and discusses the consistency of these factors in terms of influencing the educational process. Some negative events (including divorce, poverty, and other chronic conditions) also contribute to the development of the gaps in mother-child relationships (Wilson, Dalberth, Koo, & Gard, 2010).

If speaking on the gaps in the current research on the topic of intimate relationships between the mother and her children, researchers indicate that parental behavioral patterns and the quality of their relationships are known to indirectly affect the children (Geller, Cooper, Garfinkel, Schwartz-Soicher, & Mincy, 2011). Therefore, the problem of insufficient (or incorrect, depending on the situation) interaction with the child should be investigated further as a crucial component of an intricate socio-economic problem. Nonetheless, the current research found that the mood within the family is one of the most influential psychological factors influencing the children’s outlooks (Hofferth & Goldscheider, 2010). The lack of parental support and inability to experience the fact of being a part of a non-single family were also identified as two major contributors to the transformation of the children’s perception of the world (Geller et al., 2011).

The researchers consider that families with just one parent should be acknowledged as disastrous living conditions due to several socio-economic difficulties influencing the life of African-American families. It is also stated that the key aspect of the survival of single-motherhood families is the females’ instinct to live and do whatever for their children (Baker & Iruka, 2013). Nonetheless, this aspect may be considered another research gap as there is almost no evidence of the fact that single mothers are entitled or at least able to provide everything necessary for the children at the time of the children’s father’s absence. Hofferth and Goldscheider (2010) also claim that African-American females are required to learn how to interact with the children and their surroundings so as to ensure that their children receive the best education and grow into valuable individuals that are accepted by the society.

Research Overview

Research Problem Background

It has been found that father absenteeism affects such spheres as identity development (Ávila, Cabral, & Matos, 2012), dating identity development (Pittman, Kerpelman, Soto, & Adler-Baeder, 2012), adult attachments formation (Booth-Laforce et al., 2014), parenting styles (Millings, Walsh, Hepper, & O’Brien, 2012), and so on. Pougnet, Serbin, Stack, Ledingham, and Schwartzman (2012) claim that low-income African American females abandoned by their fathers often become single mothers repeating their mothers’ life. It has been found that an absent father affects females’ sexual behavior (DelPriore & Hill, 2013; La Guardia, Nelson, & Lertora, 2014). All these findings provide evidence that certain aspects of intimate partnership development are altered, but little attention is paid to the influence of father absenteeism on the process of intimate relationship development.

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Research Question

In what ways does father absenteeism affect the process of intimate partnerships development in females as seen by themselves?

Basic Methodology

The proposed study aims at examining women’s perspectives on the way the absence of a father affects the way they develop their relationships. Therefore, the qualitative research design will be used as it enables the researcher to identify particular ideas and perspectives of the participants (Creswell, 2013).

Research Methodology Overview

The grounded theory approach will be used to address the research question. Thorne (2016) states that this approach is the theory-building process as the researcher explores the issue by analyzing people’s accounts and comes up with a theory addressing certain patterns.

Dissertation Title

How do African American women raise without a father describe the process of developing intimate partnerships?

Research Theory

Advancing Scientific Knowledge

The proposed study will develop a new theory concerning adulthood attachment development. The attachment theory will be utilized as the theoretical ground. According to the attachment theory, attachment patterns developed in people’s childhood affect the way adult attachments are formed (Pascuzzo, Cyr, & Moss, 2013). This study will lead to the development of a theory explaining some peculiarities of the process of intimate partnerships development among women abandoned by their fathers.

Theoretical Implications

As has been mentioned above, a new theory will be developed, which will enrich the field of General Psychology. The new theoretical framework will be developed within the grounds of the attachment theory. A particular aspect of attachment development (the actual process of intimate partnerships formation) will be further explored.

Practical Implications

The practical implications of the proposed study are manifold. First, practitioners will acquire a theoretical paradigm to consider particular cases of their clients. Practitioners will have the framework to tie childhood attachment patterns with adult attachment development with the focus on the process of intimate relationship development. On a larger scale, the number of healthy marriages will increase as women will be able to develop intimate partnerships effectively.

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Research Methodology

Research Design

As has been mentioned above, the grounded theory approach will be employed. To collect data, the semi-structured interview will be used. Creswell (2013) stresses that this type of data collection enables the researcher to obtain detailed data based on the participants’ ideas and perspectives. The semi-structured form provides the necessary flexibility as the researcher can address aspects that arise during the interview and that can be difficult to foresee.

Populations and Sample

As has been mentioned above, the participants will be low-income African American females aged between 20 and 25 years old who have experienced father absenteeism. As for the sampling strategy, convenience sampling will be used. This method is the most common sampling strategy utilized in the qualitative research as it helps to recruit people who have the necessary knowledge and experience as well as the willingness to share their ideas (Gentles, Charles, Ploeg, & McKibbon, 2015). The recruitment process will include the use of a social network as well as collaboration with the local churches and grocery stores.

Ethical Considerations

The proposed study does not involve the participation of any vulnerable groups. It is necessary to note that some questions can be challenging for some women as their memories concerning their fatherless childhood can be sad and painful. However, the participants will be informed about the implications of the study, which may encourage them to focus on the ideas and experiences rather than negative emotions. The recruitment process can also have certain ethical concerns associated with the use of a social network (Roberts, 2015). However, the use of the online community will be characterized by compliance with ethical norms.


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