Parent–child racial-ethnic socialization conversations are an important tool to cultivate a sense of pride and equip youth to deal with discrimination. However, conversations about preparation for racial bias can be particularly difficult for parents to deliver effectively. Little research has been done that illuminates the types of challenges parents within and across racial-ethnic groups experience with this task. The current qualitative study addresses this gap.
The study draws on focus group data collected from parents and children from African American, Chinese American, Mexican American, and Indian American (South Asian) families (N = 138 individuals; 30 focus groups). Coding was done by a racially and ethnically diverse research team using inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).
Youth and parents reflected on barriers to having effective preparation for bias conversations, including (a) parents’ uncertainty in approaching the conversations; (b) tensions in identifying, understanding, and decoding racial discrimination; and (c) generational differences between parents and youth.
Themes are unpacked from a social learning perspective, approaching the barriers from a person-based, context-based, and behavior-based point of view. Unique and similar experiences across the racial-ethnic groups were noted, including perspectives from U.S.-born and immigrant parents.
The authors share implications for racial-ethnic socialization intervention strategies with parents are shared.