Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Department

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Jason J. Campbell

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Christopher F. Burnett

Abstract

For years the vast body of literature on single-parenting has focused on the weaknesses experienced by the family and the adverse consequences for the children who reside in such a household. The literature reviewed for this study postulate African American males raised in single-parent households perform poorly academically, are more likely to drop out of school, experience emotional difficulties, and are unable to attain self-sufficiency. Researchers have also argued that African American males from single-parent households are more vulnerable to delinquent acts than those of two-parent households. These acts can lead to incarceration or death. One arena that has not been thoroughly examined is the single-parent household in which the African American male has been able to achieve emotional stability, academic and professional success, abstaining from delinquent behaviors. The prevalence of this family structure coupled with the lack of research on successful African American males as products of this household, stimulate a need for better understanding of how the single-parent household functions.

My study sought to understand how African American males experience being raised in a single-parent household and what factors have allowed them to achieve success despite the many challenges they face. The participants included eight African American males who were raised in a single-parent household and who were identified as being successful, as defined by this study. A qualitative phenomenological approach was utilized which allowed participants to provide rich, detailed descriptions of their lived experiences through in-depth semi-structured interviews. A thorough analysis of each interview exposed the following themes: mother's influence, a sense of security, sense of self-worth, high expectations and support systems, all of which help to elucidate the phenomenon of being raised in a single parent household.

Their stories revealed a positive perception of the phenomena under study, illuminating the strengths of the single-parent household and the factors, as evidenced by the emerging themes that contributed to their success. The findings will serve as a valuable contribution to (a) the ongoing scholarly research on African American males and single-parent households, (b) single-parents raising African American sons, and (c) professionals working with this population.

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