”My mother’s keeper”: the effects of parentification on black female college students

From Journal of Black Psychology

The Black family—both nuclear and extended—has been responsible for the survival of Black people in America. Despite shifting dynamics due to the evolution of the family structure during the past 50 years, the family is one of the most important and strongest institutions in the Black community.  This paper illustrates how parentification of studied black American females impacts on their college experience and examines the push and pull factors from their families of origin while pursuing their degrees. Understanding the perceptions and experiences of young Black women who carry the burden of their family’s survival is essential to their emotional, mental, and financial well-being. Such knowledge and insight will assist in the creation of interventions and programs that meet the needs of their family and enhance their opportunity for personal growth and academic persistence.



This qualitative study examined the parentification of eight Black American college females and its impact on their college experiences. Two 90-minute focus groups were conducted in order to gain insight about how these women overcame personal and family challenges while being away from their families of origin. Results highlight the push-pull factors experienced by the participants from both school and their family of origin and how they dealt with barriers to successful college completion.


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Article details

Gilford, T., & Reynolds, A. (2010). “My Mother’s Keeper”: The Effects of Parentification on Black Female College Students Journal of Black Psychology, 37 (1), 55-77 DOI: 10.1177/0095798410372624

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