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Single African American Mothers’ Experiences of Relationships With Their Sons

Introduction: The Study and the Researcher

The previous chapter provided a detailed explanation of the method used to collect primary data and design considered appropriate for analysis. In this chapter, the researcher presents the analysis of primary data. The purpose of the chapter is to analyze and interpret raw data collected from the study participants. This chapter fits into the overall dissertation by addressing research gaps identified during the review of the literature. It will also help in confirming the validity of the concepts and theories discussed in chapter two. The chapter is organized into five main sections. It starts with an introduction and description of the sample before discussing the research methodology applied to the data analysis. The fourth section, presentation of data and results to the data analysis, is the most important part of this chapter because it focuses on interpreting the response obtained from participants. The last section is a summary of the information in this chapter.

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The role of the researcher in this study was strictly defined as that of a data collector and interpreter. The researcher was interested in understanding single African American mothers’ experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons. I became interested in the topic because of recent statistics, which show that single parenting in the United State is on the rise (Pauker, Apfelbaum, & Spitzer, 2015; Slonim, 2014). Although I may not have a direct personal stake in it besides the need to complete my degree, I believe that this study will be of great benefit to single-mothers struggling to parent their children without the support of their partners. As the daughter of a single-mother, I have a subjective understanding of some of those challenges. However, the experience of the single-mother merited exploration. I have had training through classwork, which enabled me prepare for this project. In my previous academic works, I have used qualitative research methods and similar data analysis procedure, which also aided in the application of this study. The most important personal aspect that I brought to this project is the ability to listen and interpret information shared by the participants.

The researcher was keen on remaining objective by avoiding personal bias. As Braun and Clarke (2006) note, it was not necessary to avoid personal opinion when collecting and analyzing primary data. The researcher allowed participants to express their views freely during the process of collecting primary.

Description of the Sample

The demographic questionnaire helped identify potential participants who met the study criteria. The total number of participants in this study was eight single African American mothers aged 27-55 years. At the time of data collection, all of them had adolescent sons aged 14-19 years. In this study, it was desirable to have single-mothers with only one child, the adolescent son, as inclusion criteria. However, the researcher had to include some participants with multiple children because of the difficulty in finding participants meeting that strict criterion. The researcher confirmed that the participants had been living with their sons for at least the last eight years, which was another inclusion criterion. Four of the participants were high school teachers at local schools. They resided close to their institutions of work. The researcher could easily contact and reach them for data collection because of their geographic location. Two of the respondents were nurses in the Midwestern part of the United States. When they were contacted, they confirmed their availability for the interview. The eighth participant was an entrepreneur running a mid-sized company within Florida. Although her schedule was tight, this participant confirmed that she could find time to participate in the data collection process. Eight respondents participated in this study.

The number of participants was considered adequate for the study. As Pauker et al. (2015) advise, it is important to ensure that the number of participant is large enough to get different views over a given issue while at the same time small enough to enable the researcher to gather the needed information. It was necessary to collect data through face-to-face interview. The process is time consuming for the researcher and, sometimes, it is not easy to find individuals willing to participate in the data collection process. As such, the sample size of 8 participants was considered sufficient. They were identified as PP1, PP2, PP3, PP4, PP5, PP6, PP7, and PP8. The researcher ensured that the identity of the participants remained anonymous.

Participants’ Protection

It was important to ensure that participants were protected in this study. Pauker et al. (2015) argue that it is always a cardinal rule to hide the identity of participants to ensure that they are not discriminated against, dismissed from work, or attacked in case their personal views contradict that of the majority or those in authority. As such, the researcher made a deliberate effort to ensure that the identity of all the eight participants was not revealed. Instead of using their actual names, the researcher assigned the participants a special code, P1-P8, as one of the ways of hiding their identity. The researcher did not reveal their personal details such as phone numbers or e-mail address just to limit the ability of an individual to trace these individuals. The information was only used for academic purposes. Although the issue being investigated was not emotive and, as such, less likely to cause the participants any harm because of their varying personal opinions, it was considered necessary to protect their identity.

Research Methodology Applied to the Data Analysis

In this qualitative research, data analysis was carried out using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Thematic analysis was considered appropriate because it made it possible to identify specific issues relating to single African American mothers experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons (Chetty, Hendren, Kline, & Saez, 2014). Respondents answered each question in detail. The researcher was keen on identifying any issue that needed further explanation from their response. When the information was unclear or a new concept considered relevant to the study emerged, the researcher requested these participants to provide further explanation or justification to their statements (Peleg, Vilchinsky, Fisher, Khaskia, & Mosseri, 2017). The unstructured format of the questions made it possible for each participant to provide an explanation based on personal experiences. The researcher interpreted the information obtained from the respondents, providing a few direct quotations whenever necessary. The steps of the protocol carried out were in line with the protocol described in chapter three. After obtaining data from the participants, the researcher embarked on explaining specific phenomena based on the responses and justifications provided by participants. The use of direct quotes was necessary to explain views of the participants on various issues investigated in the study. The researcher did not face any significant challenge during this stage of data analysis. The researcher used thematic analysis, as discussed below.

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Presentation of Data and Results to the Data Analysis

When data is collected from respondents, the next important step is to conduct an analysis (Caelli et al. 2003). The researcher should derive meaning out of the information collected from different participants. Braun and Clarke (2006) argue that thematic analysis was considered the appropriate in this qualitative research. Braun and Clarke (2006) define thematic analysis as “the process of identifying patterns or themes within qualitative data” (p. 78). It is a popular method of analysis because it is flexible and can be used in different studies. Information collected from participants was organized into themes to help explain parents single African American mothers of their relationship with their adolescent sons (Kahlke, 2014; Wu, Appleman, Salazar, & Ong, 2015). Themes that came out from the investigation have been organized in the form of questions to help express the perception and feelings of these single parents in an effective form. Various themes come out from the investigation.

Initial Coding

Data collected from participants was in the form of audio recording. As such, the initial coding was conducted by transferring the information from the digital voice into Microsoft World for every interview, as Braun and Clarke (2006) recommend. The transcription of the text focused on highlighting recurring patterns. In order to identify the recurring ideas, the researcher had to listen to the audio recording several times and note common sentences made by the participants. For instance, sentences such as “I love my son so much, but the responsibility of raising him is overwhelming” and “I have enjoyed parenting my son as a single mother because he is so understanding” helped in the initial coding process. The codes helped to explain the experience of these single African American mothers of their relationship with their adolescent sons.


The coding process helped to identify patterns that explain the experience of single African American mothers of their relationships with their adolescent sons. It was possible to classify the patterns in the form of themes that define different experiences of these parents. Some of these parents have had wonderful relationships with their sons while others are struggling to meet their needs. One of the main patterns that came out strongly during the initial coding process was love. It was evident that despite challenges that some of these parents go through, they love their sons and are willing to do everything within their powers to make them happy and successful.

Frustration was another pattern that was evident among most of these respondents. The fact that they have to meet financial, emotional, and moral needs was overwhelming to some of them, especially those who stated that they have no form of support from close family members. Resentment could be detected in some of the respondents although they were not directing it to their sons in their statements. Some of these single-mothers felt that it was unfair of the fathers to disappear and leave the burden of upbringing the children to them. Caelli et al. (2003) argue that such resentments may affect mother-son relationship. The presence of the son becomes a constant reminder of sad memories of pain and unfulfilled promises. The mother may fail to express affection to the child unintentionally because of such memories.

The researcher considered it appropriate to present themes identified in the primary analysis in line with the objectives that were set in the introduction section of this dissertation. The patterns identified from the coding process are presented in question format as shown below:

Tell me about your relationship with your adolescent son

The researcher was interested in determining the relationship between the single African American mothers and their adolescent sons. It was necessary to determine, from their personal experiences, how they feel towards the relationship that they have towards these children. It was evident that the relationship varies. Some of them explained that they have a strained relationship with their sons because of different factors. One of the respondents explained this relationship as shown below.

Participant 3 said, “Ok, my relationship with my adolescent son has been somewhat very difficult, it has been troublesome, it has been trying, we’ve had some really, really rough days, some rough weeks and it has been some rough years.”

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As shown in the response above, the relationship between this single-mother and the adolescent son is strained. The mother feels that the relationship is strained because the adolescent son is troublesome. The mother went on to explain that she is overwhelmed by the need to take the responsibilities of being a mother and a father at the same time. It becomes challenging when the son fails to follow specific instructions given by the mother who is struggling to meet family needs (Elliott, Powell, & Brenton, 2015; Cokley, Awosogba, & Taylor, 2014). The feeling of frustration is shared by most of the respondents viewed, especially those who were categorical that the relationship is strained. A few of these respondents did not expressly state whether the relationship is good or strain, just arguing that sometimes it may be good while at other times issues may arise. However, some explained that they have had an excellent relationship with their adolescent sons. One of them stated as follows:

Participant 6 said, “My, my son is, is my whole world. Everything revolves around my son. I cannot do anything without my son, because I almost lost him at birth.”

In this case, this single-mother feels that the relationship with her son goes beyond parenthood. She sees the life of her son as a gift and a special responsibility. Such a mother would most likely not view parenthood as a responsibility but a pleasurable experience of bringing up a child she was gifted with (Damaske, Bratter, & Frech, 2017; Katz, 2015). The joy of raising the son overshadows all the pain and sufferings associated with single parenting. Financial capacity of such a mother may not matter much in such a situation. Embrick (2015) explains that such cases are common when the mother almost lost the child at birth or at a tender age. The love and care given during such difficult times may last for a lifetime. The analysis reveals that the relationship between a single African American mother and an adolescent son may vary significantly because of different factors.

What do you feel influenced your relationship with your adolescent sons?

During the review of the literature, different factors were identified, which may have a direct influence on the relationship between single African American mothers and their adolescent sons. In this section of primary data analysis, it was necessary to identify factors that influence the relationship based on the views and experiences of the respondents who took part in the study. The researcher was specifically interested in investigative the views of those who stated that the relationship is good against those who stated that the relationship is strained (Kitche & Ball, 2014; Percy, Kostere, & Kostere, 2015). The difference in experiences may help in identifying parental practices that one may need to avoid to improve the experience. The analysis started by investigating these factors among those who stated that their relationship with the adolescent sons is good.

Respondent 6 explained, “One, that I almost lost him. My mother is always there for us, no matter what, no matter bad, good, she is there.”

This respondent identifies two main factors, which have helped in maintaining a good relationship with the son. First, her personal experience where she almost lost the son at a tender age cemented a strong bond of love and trust between the mother and son. Even at this stage of development, the mother still feels the son deserves her love and full attention. The second factor is the manner in which she received parenting (Manning, Brown, & Stykes, 2014; Wang & Kenny, 2014). She states that when they were young, her mother was always there for them in times of happiness and during hardships. She never abandoned them and neither did she express her pain of parenting to them. As such, she feels that she has a responsibility to parent the child in a similar way. Cooper and Norcross (2016) share the same sentiment that parents always tend to follow the same strategies they received when they were young. It was also necessary to get the views of those who expressed concerns about their relationship with their adolescent sons.

Participant 2 stated, “I feel like when I was younger our Dad was in our life. Me, my brothers, sisters, and I, my Mom had five kids. We had a good Dad… he died when I was ten.”

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The participant explains specific events in her upbringing that have affected her parental skills. She had both parents who expressed their love to them. However, she lost her father when she was only ten years. Her explanation shows that she lost her father when she needed her the most. She was yet to understand the nature of the father-daughter relationship. As such, she finds it difficult to maintain the mother-son relationship. Single parents raised by single-mothers find it easy to maintain a positive relationship with their daughters because they went through the same experience with their parents. However, they find it significantly difficult raising their adolescent sons whose needs they may not understand (Atzaba-Poria, Deater-Deckard, & Bell, 2014; Farghaly, 2018). Their lack of experience would strain the relationship further. Without proper guidance and assistance, a parent might give up on their children, hoping that teachers and religious leaders would take up such responsibilities (Finer & Zolna, 2016; Leech, 2016; Yanow, & Schwartz-Shea, 2014). When these adolescent sons fail to live up to their parents’ expectations, the relationship may be destroyed even further.

Some parents explained that the relationship with their sons is influenced by various immediate factors such as a son’s behavior at home or school, academic performance, and their company. Such parents stated that the nature of the relationship varies from good to bad depending on what the adolescent has done (Weinrath, Donatelli, & Murchison, 2016). They are also more open to the belief that adolescents are children whose mental capacity is yet to fully develop, and as such, are likely to make mistakes. As a parent, one should scold adolescents and warn them against making similar mistakes in the future, but it should not be the basis of defining a strained relationship.

What comes to mind when you think about the mother to son relationship?

The question focused on determining views and perception of patents on the issue of mother to son relationship. According to Fusch and Ness (2015), the relationship between a single-mother and an adolescent son may be strained because of the unrealistic expectations of the parent. A child’s academic performance may be underwhelming but he may be excellent in sports or music (Fraga, 2016; Williams, Ryan, Davis-Kean, McLoyd, & Schulenberg, 2017; Lewis, 2015). Such a child may pursue a career in sports, but their success depends on the support they get. Participants responded to the question above in different ways.


Participant 2 said, “A mom should be her son’s first love just like a daughter should be her father’s first love.”

This participant explains that as a mother, she should express her love to her son despite the challenges that may arise. Although a dad would help his son to understand how to face different issues in life as a man, the mother has a responsibility to teach the son how to love. When the son fails to show concern, care, and love towards a single-mother, the relationship may be strained. The mother may feel that she does not have any significant role to play in her son’s life. Other respondents interviewed in this study expressed similar feelings.

Participant 3 stated, “What comes to mind I think is, um, every mom, I think, desires to have a strong relationship with their child. You want to be there, you want to that person they come to, you want to be that person they tell everything, that person that they confide in good, bad, or indifferent.”

This parent has the ideal concept of parenting in her mind even though she admits that the relationship has not been as good as she would have desired. She explains that it is every parent’s desire to have a close relationship with the son. The mother should be the first person that a son would go to in cases of joy and sadness. The son should feel free to ask for guidance and protection from their mother when faced with hardships. The respondent acknowledges that in some cases family issues or external environmental factors may strain the relationship. Peer pressure and the feeling that adolescents cannot discuss sex with their mothers may sometimes affect the relationship (Baudin, Croix, & Gobbi, 2015; Flavell, 2014).

Participant 4, “the biggest thing is understanding boundaries for me because, you know, he’s getting older and I have to have those talks, and honest to God, I have no experience there, I mean, how do I. I think that I’ve taught him all along the way how to be respectful of women.”

The participant is primarily concerned with the boundaries that should exist when it comes to defining the mother-adolescent relationship. The respondent believes that a limit exists, beyond which a mother cannot go when guiding adolescent on various issues about his life. She notes that her main concern is lack of experience on some of these issues critical in defining the mother-son relationship. She has explained to the son the importance of respecting women, but she lacks knowledge about how a man views such relationships and what can enhance success. Drifte (2014) explains that limited experience is one of the most common problems that single-mothers identify when parenting their adolescent sons. This developmental stage is critical and adolescents are likely to make mistakes. A single-mother can guide a daughter to avoid specific behavioral patterns based on their personal experiences (Maudry-Beverley, 2014; Zan & Donegan-Ritter, 2014). However, the same cannot be said when parenting their adolescent sons because they did not go through such experiences.

Describe in detail what it is like to experience a relationship with your adolescent son

The most important theme in this study was to determine how single African American mothers experience their relationships with their adolescent sons. Benner, Boyle, and Sadler (2016) explain that the worries, concerns, and commitments that these single-mothers have towards their sons define their parenting strategy. The experience is defined by several factors such as the level of discipline of the child, how responsible these parents are financial constraints, academic performance, and religious forces among others. Respondents were requested to explain in details their experience of the relationship with their adolescent sons. The following are some of the responses given by the participants in this study.

Participant 1 said, “I get worried about my sons more than my daughters. My thought was girls are less likely to end up in situations where they encounter the police and end up in prison. I would take care of my son by getting him involved in football, get them a mentor, and use whooping as a form of discipline.”

This parent confirmed the findings from the review of literature that single African American mothers comfortable raising their adolescent daughters than adolescent sons. As shown in this response, this mother is constantly worried that the son would find himself in some kind of trouble that would attract the attention of the police. Activities such as drug trafficking, drug abuse and minor criminal acts such as burglary and physical altercation may send these adolescents into a juvenile penitentiary. The parent tries to deal with this constant worry by ensuring that the son is actively involved in physically demanding sports such as football with the hope that by the end of the day he would be too tired to consider engaging in physical crimes. She has also found a mentor to help address issues that the son feels he cannot discuss with the mother. The use of corporal punishment is another strategy that she uses to help ensure that her son remains discipline and understands that his actions have consequences.

Participant 4 explained, “All I can tell you is it’s like nothing you can really describe. There is the closeness that he and I have that nobody else can have. I mean, he and I can talk, he knows, without a doubt, that I’ve got his back.”

This participant explains a unique relationship with the son that makes the experience pleasing. She says that she is very close to her son and is always committed to helping and protecting her at all times. The son knows that he can always trust his mother to protect him from anyone or anything that may be harmful. However, the mother explains that the son knows she expects a lot from him. She expects him to be responsible and disciplined at all times. She always urges the son to avoid trouble and to be obedient and respectful to adults as long as they are not guiding him on wrong paths. She is able to talk to the son about major social issues such as drug abuse and relationships.

Participant 6 said, “My son, he is, he’s a lot like his Dad. Sometimes when I am hard on him, my Mom thought I was being hard on him because I hated my ex-husband.”

This participant introduces a new angle of investigating single-mothers’ experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons. In some cases, the relationship may be defined by the nature of the relationship between the mother and the son’s father (Duffy, Blustein, Diemer, & Autin, 2016; Williams, Priest, & Anderson, 2016). The respondent admits that the son is more like his father, which means that he reminds her of her ex-husband. The relationship with the ex-husband was strained, and her own mother noticed that she is being too strict with the daughter because of that hatred. Some parents may not realize that they have a difficult relationship with their sons because of the relationship they had with their fathers. The problem may be worse among rape victims (Blankstein, Noguera, Kelly, & Tutu, 2016). The son becomes a constant reminder of the ordeal they went through, sometimes when they were still young. He becomes a reminder of opportunities that were lost, the physical and emotional torture, and the new life forced on them without a proper plan. Palinkas et al. (2015) explain that some of these single-mothers may even develop a fear that the son may be a threat to other young women, just as their fathers were. In such extreme cases, it may be necessary to take these parents through counseling (Maynard, Salas-Wright, & Vaughn, 2015). The hatred can be too strong to bear, making it impossible for them to parent their sons as would be desirable.

Participant 8 stated, “Well, it’s like a roller coaster, it’s like joy, you know how you used to, when you were young and you want to go to your end of year’s field trip with the school, you have so much fun, you’ll be so excited. You might have to punish when you don’t want to, that don’t feel good.”

The participant explains the joy and the pain of being a single parent. She acknowledges the importance of her role as a mother and states that she enjoys parenting her adolescent son. She compares the excitement of parenthood to the joy that of a young child having an end-year field trip. The journey is characterized by uncertainties but the hope of success, in the end, gives her the motivation to press on and provide for her son in the best way possible. The single-mother notes that despite the joy of taking care of her some, in some cases she has to be strict. She may be forced to punish the child as a way of discouraging them from behaving in a given way. It makes her sad every time she punishes the child, but she knows that it is necessary to guide the child towards the right path of responsible behavior.

What do you do to maintain a relationship with your adolescent son?

The relationship between a single-mother and her adolescent son is defined by the effort that the two put in place to address possible differences. According to Johnsen and Friborg (2015), the mother is expected to put in more effort than the son does because she is the adult. Putting up with indiscipline and disrespect may not be easy (Ehde, Dillworth, & Turner, 2014; Nuri, Demirok, & Direktör, 2017). However, giving up is not an option in parenthood. A mother must find ways of guiding the son at this critical stage of development by finding ways of helping them to overcome different challenges. The respondents identified different ways that they use to help maintain their relationships with their sons.

Participant 1 said, “I spend time with them, you know, and I’m the one that I…I thank God, I guess, for me being such a tomboy ‘cause I learned sports and I learned cars and things like that.”

The parent has learned the importance of spending time with her adolescent son as a way of maintaining the relationship. Haefner (2014) notes that one of the biggest parenting challenges is that most single-mothers rarely find time to be with their children. They work double jobs just to ensure that they provide for their families. However, this mother has realized the importance of spending time with the son to understand his fears and desires. She is physically active and can engage in sports with her son. Not all mothers have the capacity to engage in physical activities with their adolescent sons, as Boeren (2018) observes. Others use different strategies.

Participant 2 said, “I talk to him, give him hugs and kisses and I check on him throughout the day. When I come home from work, I ask him how his day was at school and if he has an issue, I try to fix it. I also spend money on him.”

This parent may not be as physically involved in the games of her adolescent son as P1 above, but she has her own strategy. Every time after work, she talks with her son to determine if there are issues that affect them. The open communication helps the mother to identify problems when they emerge and come up with solutions to the issues. The hugs and kisses help to maintain a good relationship by assuring the son of their mother’s love and protection. The mother spends a lot on her son. She wants the son to have the best both at school and at home to make him fit among his peers. She is trying to ensure that the son does not feel the pain of not having a father to provide for his financial needs. The commitment reminds the son to always respect his mother and strive to meet her expectations both academically and in the social sphere.

Participant 6 said, “Communication, prayer, I take him to church, um, he goes to a Christian, Christian religious school.”

This mother, like the two other single-mothers above, appreciates that communication is critical in maintaining the mother-son relationship. However, she introduces a concept not talked about by the other participants. She notes that prayer is another important strategy that she uses to maintain a good relationship with her son. She prays for the son and teaches him ways of becoming a good Christian. She has taken the son to a Christian school and always ensures that every Sunday they go to church. This parent appreciates the fact that she alone may not have the capacity to help the son become a successful man.

As such, she tries to seek help from institution such as school and church where the son can get responsible male adults to answer some of the questions she cannot address. The responses show that different parents may have different strategies for maintaining a good relationship with their sons, but communication is paramount. In case communication is poor, it may not be possible to address issues that might arise (Brannon, Markus, & Taylor, 2015). The single-mother may not understand the challenges that the son is going through. Similarly, the son may not have the capacity to understand the pain and frustration of the mother as she struggles to make ends meet for the family (Groh, Fearon, Jzendoorn, Bakermans‐Kranenburg, & Roisman, 2017). The more they ignore each other and avoid direct communication, the worse the relationship would get. As such, these participants emphasize the need for single-mothers to maintain communication with their adolescent sons.

What feelings come to mind when you think about your relationship with your adolescent son?

Feelings that go through the minds of single-mothers often depend on the manner in which they got their sons, events during and after pregnancy, and how their lives have been raising their sons alone. Some feel their future, as they had anticipated before getting pregnant, was destroyed and they now lead a life of suffering because of what they consider was a mistake. Others feel the arrival of their sons turned their lives in the right direction and from paths of self-destruction. The following are the responses obtained from these participants.

Participant 3 stated, “My feelings, I have several. I love him because he is my child. I am bitter, I am angry because I have to raise him by myself. I’m hurt, I’m scared, so many different feelings because I can’t blame my child because I put myself in this situation, I had him, he didn’t have me.”

This parent admits that she has different feelings towards the son. She notes that she has no doubt about the love for the son. However, she cannot hide her bitterness and anger. She is not happy with the fact that she has to raise the child alone without the support of the father. She is hurt by the fact that although they were both responsible for the pregnancy, the father of her son disappeared from their lives, forcing her to bear all the responsibilities. She is constantly scared of what the future has in store for her and her son. However, she remains committed to the son and is doing everything to meet his needs. Although she is categorical, that she does not hate her son, such resentments towards the father of her son and the feeling that he abandoned him may be expressed in the manner she handles the son.

Participant 7 said, “Oh, I have warm feelings when I think about our relationship. Nothing but love, I am so grateful to this child because this child literally changed my life. I did a 360 degree turn around after becoming pregnant.”

This single-mother feels that her son helped transform her life in a positive way. When he came into her life, she suddenly realized that she has to be responsible and face life as an adult. She is happy that her son made her avoid peer pressure and groups that would have misled her into self-destruction. She feels nothing but love for the son because of the joy he brought. Brown (2016) explains that sometimes a child may put to stop irresponsible practices, and as a woman matures, she realizes that the pregnancy and subsequent parenthood was what she needed to get a sense of direction in her life.

Describe your role and responsibility as a single-mother to your adolescent son

Parenting is a noble role and single-mothers should understand their responsibilities, especially when caring for their adolescent children. Bright and Jonson-Reid (2015) explain that people often make or break their future at this important developmental stage. As such, a lot is expected of their parents to help them overcome challenges that they may face. The approach that a single-mother takes to parent their children depends on their perception of the responsibility they have towards them. The participants gave the following responses when asked this question.

Participant 1 said, “My goal was to make sure that he becomes a productive adult, it involves him being financially stable, having good morals/ values, treating people kindly, and not harming others.”

This single-mother has a clear goal that she plans to achieve, and that is to raise her son to become a responsible and productive adult. She understands that all that she does now, meeting the needs of the child are all designed to help him become a responsible adult. She understands that what the son shall become in his later life depends on her current parenting strategies. As such, she has emphasized to him the need to embrace good morals, to respect people, and avoid any action that may harm others.

Participant 4 said, “My…role, oh boy. The biggest thing is helping him to understand how to move forward in life, and how to become a part of society-at-large.”

The respondent, in this case, feels that her biggest responsibility is to help the son to understand how to move forward in life. He needs to understand real-life challenges and ways of overcoming them. She wants her son to become an active member of society. She understands that the diversity in society is often a challenge, especially to the minority. African Americans struggle to get acceptance in various institutions (Cherry, Baltag, & Dillon, 2016; Hess & Henig, 2015). She hopes that her son will learn from her about ways in which he can overcome these challenges and become responsible citizens.

Participant 7 said, “My role is to make sure he has a roof over his head that he has food to eat, that he knows right from wrong, teach him the proper things to do, make sure that he’s in contact with male role models so that he can get what I cannot give to him.”

The seventh participant was not as futuristic as the other two discussed above. She is primarily concerned about her ability to meet the immediate needs that her son may have. Having a roof over his head, providing meals, and letting him know what is right and wrong are some of the basic responsibilities she believes she has towards her son. However, she admits that he needs to learn about issues relating to his future as an adult male in society. She explains that as a single-mother, she may not be the role model of her son. As such, she commits to finding an appropriate role model for the son to guide and help him overcome challenges that he may have, especially issues relating to biological changes that he experiences. The role model can be a male adult who the son can ask specific questions he may not feel comfortable discussing with the mother.


This chapter has provided a detailed analysis of primary data collected from the sampled participants. Information obtained from the primary data analysis shows that single parenting among African American mothers is characterized by many challenges. Although the majority of the participants stated that they have a great experience with regard to their relationship with their adolescent sons, others admitted that the relationship was strained. The study found out that, issues such as the relationship that the mother had with the father, the manner in which the mother and the father separated, and financial capacity of the single-mother to meet the family’s needs significantly influence the relationship. Other important factors include the son’s academic performance, level of discipline both at school and at home, the ability of the two parties to communicate openly and in a sincere manner, and commitment of the parent. It was established that single-mothers have an important responsibility of providing the socio-spiritual support to their sons besides meeting the financial needs of the family. The next chapter provides a summary of the study.


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