African American Youth Development Research Lab
Research Projects
Fathers and Mothers in the Lives of Youth (F.A.M.I.L.Y) study: Father-adolescent Relationships across the Middle School Years

Research exploring the impact of fathers’ parenting practices during adolescence continues to lag in comparison to studies in infancy and childhood. This discrepancy is even greater with respect to African American fathers. Thus, little is known about African American fathers’ parenting practices, particularly during the adolescent years. This NSF Career project examines parenting processes among a socio-demographically diverse sample of African American fathers. Importantly, this investigation explores how these parenting practices influence the academic and social adjustment of African American early adolescents. Two-hundred forty African-American fathers and their adolescents (11-12 years old) will be surveyed across three time-points. Father-, adolescent-, and mother-reports will be utilized to represent multiple perspectives on fathers’ parenting practices and adolescent adjustment. This investigation has four specific aims: 1) to investigate determinants (adolescent gender; intergenerational factors; residential status; maternal relationships) of African American fathers’ parenting practices; 2) to examine whether fathering ideologies (e.g., beliefs about parenting) mediates the association between fathering determinants and parenting practices; and 3) identify change and stability of African American fathers’ parenting practices across adolescence; and 4) to explore how parenting practices are associated with African American adolescents’ academic and social adjustment outcomes.

Click here to learn more about the F.A.M.I.L.Y study!

Fathering Practices and Positive Adolescent Development within African American Families

This investigation is a secondary analysis of African American adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY97), a multi-wave nationally-representative study of children residing in the United States. The specific goals of this investigation include: 1) What are distinct father-specific parenting profiles among African American fathers of adolescents?; 2) Are trajectories of these parenting profiles dynamic or continuous across the adolescent years?; 3) How do demographic, situational and contextual factors (e.g., adolescent gender, other-caregiver relationships, residential status) impact membership to a specific father-specific parenting profile and subsequent change over time?; and 4) How are parenting profiles and their change over time indirectly and directly related to positive youth development and healthy functioning (likelihood for engagement in risk behaviors) in adolescence and emerging adulthood? To answer the research questions of interest, latent profile analytic and regression methodological approaches will be utilized.

Funding Agency: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Intergenerational Influences, Co-parenting, and African American Males’ Parenting Practices: The Mediating Role of Fatherhood Ideologies

To reflect the diverse range of experiences and realities of African American fathers, scholars have taken a more socially-embedded approach to understanding fatherhood in African American families including understanding the ways that they impact their children’s development (Billingsley, 1970; Bowman, 1990; McAdoo & McAdoo, 2002). Much of this research has challenged earlier, more-deficit based perspectives of African American fathers (e.g., Cabrera et al., 2008; McAdoo, 1988). However, relatively few studies exist that include their own perceptions and motivations regarding parenting as well as how these experiences may contribute to parenting-related behaviors. This investigation explores factors associated with African American fathers’ parenting ideologies as well as how these beliefs and attitudes are associated with parental involvement. Specifically, this study examines whether African American fathers' intergenerational influences (e.g., relationship with dad, parents' relationship with one another) are associated with their fatherhood ideologies/beliefs and parenting practices. An additional goal of this investigation is to explore the co-parenting relationship as a moderator. Currently, we are recruiting survey data from 250 African American non-residential and residential fathers. Additionally, we're conducting focus groups with a sub-sample of fathers (N=50).

Dads Active in Daughters Developing Successfully (D.A.D.D.S): Contributions to the Psychological and School Adjustment of African American Girls

Positive and supportive social relationships may serve an important, bolstering role for African American girls' psychological and school functioning. Though much of this work has explored parental contributions, it has focused mostly on how mothers influence girls' outcomes. Fathers or father-figures, as important others in the lives of African American girls, have received relatively less attention. This investigation explores father-daughter relationships in African American households. In particular, this mixed-method study examines both father and daughter perceptions of this relationship, including relationship quality, socialization practices (e.g., racial and academic socialization) and parental involvement. Also, this investigation links these aspects of fathering to girls' psychological and school adjustment.

Psychological Well-Being among African American Emerging Adults: Risk and Protective Factors

Emerging adulthood, defined as a distinct developmental period (18-25 years of age), has been characterized as a time of identity exploration and transition for many youth (Arnett, 2000). Using university and community-based samples, this investigation explores African American youths’ views about adult responsibilities, including familial responsibilities, perceived gender roles, beliefs about community involvement and career-related/educational goals. Additionally, this study explores contextual stressors (e.g. school/work stress; encounters with racial discrimination; family stress) that may adversely influence youth functioning during this period as well as culturally-specific and developmentally-appropriate protective factors (e.g., racial identity; social support; coping behaviors).The AAYD Lab is currently recruiting 300 African American young adults for participation in this investigation.

AAYD Research Lab
University of South Carolina
Department of Psychology
554 Barnwell College,
Columbia, SC 29208
Lab Phone: (803) 777 - 6981
AAYD Research Lab
Shamika Martin
Shamika Martin
AAYDLab Community Engagement and Outreach Undergraduate Research Opportunities