The Gritty Black Single Mother: Protective Factors and the Influence of Black Single Mother's Grit on Young Adult Outcomes
Washington, Keara Cherrell
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Over the span of decades, literature has highlighted that offspring from Black Single Maternal Caregiver Households (BSMCH) will experience negative outcomes, including academic deficits and psychological distress, as a function of the adversarial barriers (i.e. low socioeconomic status, mother’s lack of educational attainment, and ecological threats) encountered within their environment. Despite the apparent potential negative outcomes, there are numerous examples of Black offspring from BSMCH who are resilient and successful, despite dire familial circumstances. However, their stories do not appear to be reflected in the literature. The purpose of this study was to reveal the untold story of resilient Black offspring from BSMCH by identifying the relationship between the ability of Black single maternal caregivers to persevere towards a targeted goal despite encountering obstacles, which is known as grit (Duckworth, 2007), and the positive outcomes of their offspring. Specifically, the offspring’s internalized level of grit presumably modeled by their maternal caregivers, academic achievement, and psychological well-being was examined. Through multivariate and regression analysis of archival data that included Black and White offspring raised in single maternal caregiver households, this study investigated the impact of single maternal caregiver grit on offspring outcomes. The results of the present study showed that there were significant differences in offspring’s perception of their single maternal caregiver’s grittiness as a function of race. White offspring perceived their maternal caregivers as having more consistency of interest (a subscale of grit) than the Black offspring. The findings also supported the claim of transgenerational modeling effects of grit from the single maternal caregiver in that the offspring demonstrated similar scores of grit for themselves as they did for their maternal caregivers. However, further investigation suggested that there may be additional contributing factors related to the development of one’s passion and perseverance for long term goals, beyond transgenerational modeling effects. This was evidenced by Black offspring perceiving themselves as having moderately higher consistency of interest than their maternal caregivers. There were no gender differences among the relationship between offspring grit scores, and psychological well-being and academic achievement.