Mixed methods investigation of how parental attachment affects black adolescents’ mentoring relationships

Charity-Parker, B. M., Negrete, A., Deutsch, N. L., & Hurd, N. M. (2023). A Mixed Method Investigation of Associations Between Caregiver Attachment and Natural Mentoring Relationships Among Black Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/07435584231189213

Summarized by Jean Rhodes

In an interesting new study, Charity-Parker and colleagues explored the associations between caregiver attachment and the development of natural mentoring relationships among Black adolescents.


Adolescence is a period of forming independent relationships outside the immediate family, including natural mentoring relationships.

Black adolescents often form these bonds with extended family members and fictive kin (individuals with family-like bonds but not related by blood or marriage). Natural mentors can positively influence academic engagement, psychological well-being, and racial identity development among Black adolescents.

Black families often face challenges related to systemic racism, which can influence attachment processes. African American cultural values, such as communalism, might reduce normative relational stress during adolescence.


The study drew on survey data from 217 Black adolescents and interview data from a subsample of participants (n = 25) and their parents (n = 25).
Key Findings:

  • Parent-adolescent attachment influences adolescents’ willingness to form supportive relationships with non-parental adults.
  • Secure parent-adolescent attachment predicts a greater number of natural mentoring relationships, indirectly influenced by the adolescents’ perception of adults as helpful


Strong attachment bonds with parents can bolster youths’ trust in others and their capacity to form supportive relationships. Understanding the nature of attachment within Black families can provide insights into promoting healthy developmental outcomes for Black adolescents.