Billingsley, J. T., Rivens, A. J., & Hurd, N. M. (2020). Familial Interdependence, Socioeconomic Disadvantage, and the Formation of Familial Mentoring Relationships Within Black Families. Journal of Adolescent Research, 0743558420979127. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558420979127
Summarized by Ariel Ervin
Notes of Interest:
- Research has shown that natural mentoring can have a positive effect on Black youth’s socioemotional development & academic success.
- Although intergenerational support provides some explanation for the strong familial value on interdependence within Black families, the extent of families valuing interdependence and its impact on youth development varies.
- This study examines the potential correlation between the presence of familial mentoring relationships and interdependence within Black families.
- It also tests whether or not being socioeconomically disadvantaged moderates the relationship between familial mentoring and interdependence.
- Quantitative data indicated that having a stronger familial value of interdependence correlates with an increased chance of having a familial mentoring relationship (this correlation was only present for youth who weren’t socioeconomically disadvantaged).
- Qualitative data revealed that familial interdependence did not meaningfully differentiate based on socioeconomic status.
- Socioeconomic status plays an important role in developing familial mentoring relationships.
- It’s important for non-parental familial adults to affirm their availability. Not only does it let youth know that that person is here if they ever need it, it also encourages youth to become more comfortable with getting help from adult relatives.
Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)
This study used an explanatory sequential mixed-method design to explore the association between familial interdependence and familial mentoring relationship presence within black families. This study also examined how socioeconomic disadvantage may moderate the association between familial interdependence and familial mentoring presence. A sample of 216 black youth (59% girls; 41% boys) were surveyed, and a subsample of 25 participants were interviewed along with one of their parents, and one nonparental familial adult with whom the youth reported feeling emotionally close to learn more about the enactment of familial interdependence and the formation of familial mentoring relationships across social class. Logistic regression analyses revealed that greater valuing of familial interdependence was associated with a greater likelihood of having a familial mentoring relationship, but this association was present only among nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth. Data collected from participant interviews were analyzed to better understand this pattern of findings. These analyses provided some preliminary insights into why familial interdependence may predict familial mentor formation only among nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth. Implications of study findings for the promotion of familial mentoring relationships within black families are discussed.
Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)
Results of the present investigation suggest that greater valuing of familial interdependence may be associated with youth having a familial mentoring relationship, but only among nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth. This finding was unexpected as we had anticipated that this association would actually be amplified among youth experiencing heightened socioeconomic disadvantage. In line with the integrative model of the study of developmental competencies in minority children (García Coll et al., 1996), we assumed that a reliance on family support may be an adaptive response to financial stress and that economic hardship may be associated with greater access to extended family networks (R. D. Taylor et al., 2014). In an effort to try and better understand why valuing of familial interdependence was not associated with youth having a familial mentoring relationship among youth experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, we used qualitative data to explore two possible explanations of this discrepancy. The first possibility we explored was that interdependence may have been enacted or experienced differently across social class, rendering it less influential for familial mentorship formation among families experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage. The second possibility we considered was that there may have been other more salient factors beyond familial interdependence that may have been driving the formation of familial mentoring relationships among youth experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage.
In regards to whether there may be other more salient factors driving the formation of familial mentoring relationships among youth experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, findings revealed that among families experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, familial mentoring relationships may have been more likely to develop as a consequence of increased time spent together as a result of economic hardship (e.g., familial adults providing needed caretaking). Comparatively, nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth were more likely to report intentionally selecting their familial mentor due to desirable characteristics possessed by their mentor. It is possible that without having to navigate economic hardship or experiencing the corresponding circumstances that may result, nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth may have had more agency in how they developed these relationships. This would explain why familial values such as interdependence may be of more consequence for familial mentoring relationships among nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth: largely, because these relationships are less likely to develop out of necessity. In turn, this may mean that family values of interdependence could have more opportunity to influence these intentional decisions. Nonsocioeconomically disadvantaged youth described their mentors as being wiser than their peers and calmer in demeanor than their parents. Rather than describing the characteristics of their mentors that led them to feel comfortable self-disclosing and seeking them out, youth experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage were more likely to mention that they sought support from their mentor as a default when their parents’ work schedules prevented them from being available. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that while there may have been differentiating circumstances influencing the formation of familial mentoring relationships across socioeconomic status, these groups did not differ in the frequency of having a familial mentor. This suggests that these relationships are just as prevalent and meaningful across families of varying socioeconomic status, even if they form for differing reasons.
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