Young Mothers' Early Ethnic-Racial Socialization and Children's School Readiness.
Abstract: Conceptual frameworks concerned with the development of
ethnic-minority children illustrate how families form an adaptive culture in which parents
socialize their children to healthfully respond to daily experiences as a minority in a
socially stratified society. A central feature of this socialization is ethnic-racial
socialization, which comprises the behaviors and strategies parents ... read moreemploy to provide
children messages regarding culture, ethnicity, race, and social stratification. Over the
past three decades, the specific links between these strategies and child academic and
social adjustment have received much attention in empirical studies of adolescents, while
only a small number of studies have been conducted on processes with young children. Those
few that have been conducted reveal that certain dimensions of ethnic-racial socialization
serve as important protective factors for young children's socio-emotional and cognitive
health. Thus the present study sought to expand upon prior research by examining in a
diverse sample of young mothers (N = 468), the extent to which mothers' early ethnic-racial
socialization behaviors may be adaptive in promoting the school readiness competencies of
their young children. Using data from the Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation Early
Childhood study, I conducted two studies to address issues of measuring this phenomenon in
a novel sample of young mothers and examine predictive associations among early
ethnic-racial socialization, socio-cultural features of families, and children's school
readiness. Findings validated two prominent dimensions of ethnic-racial
socialization--cultural socialization and preparation for bias--as relevant features of
young mothers' parenting. Findings also suggest that ethnic-racial socialization is
intricately tied to family ecology in early childhood; for example, whereas both ethnic
minority and European-American young mothers engaged in these behaviors in similar ways,
findings also indicated that a marginalized social experience was positively associated
with both behavioral dimensions. Furthermore, messages intended to instill pride in one's
heritage culture were optimally associated with children's competencies, whereas messages
that prepare children for bias appeared to be maladaptive; suggesting that in early
childhood preparation for bias messages may be developmentally inappropriate while cultural
socialization messages may bolster the self-system. Contributions alongside study
limitations are discussed in terms of conceptual, empirical, and program
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2015.
Submitted to the Dept. of Child Development.
Advisor: Jayanthi Mistry.
Committee: M. Ann Easterbrooks, Ellen Pinderhughes, Xiaodong Liu, and Tiffany Yip.
Keyword: Developmental psychology.read less