Conversations Between African American Mothers and Children About School and Education

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Objectives: This study investigated what low-income, African American mothers say to their children about the value of education and how children respond to these messages. Method: Qualitative methods were used to analyze 43 videotaped mother–child conversations about disagreements regarding school and education. The conversations had been videotaped for the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project when children were in fifth grade. Results: The majority of discussions about school and education were initiated by mothers, not children. Mothers’ reasons concerning the importance of education mostly reflected utility values. No mother criticized teachers or accepted children’s attempts to blame external factors for poor performance. Children were open with their mothers and seemed to accept their standards. Conclusions: The findings underscore the sincerity of most mothers’ communications to children about the importance of education and their children’s receptivity to these messages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)


This article was originally published as Ispa, J. M., Su-Russell, C., & Im, J. (2020). Conversations between African American mothers and children about school and education. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 26, 92–101.https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000282.