Examination of the African-American Father-Daughter Relationship: Application of the Marschack Interaction Method

by Amber N. Thornton

Institution: Wright State University Professional Psychology Program
Department: School of Professional Psychology
Degree: Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Year: 2014
Keywords: African Americans; Black Studies; Clinical Psychology; Families and Family Life; Psychology; Black; African-American; Fathers; Daughters; Parent-Child; Marschack Interaction Method; Theraplay; Parenting
Record ID: 2033053
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=wsupsych1371739523


Early research on the Black family implied an enormous lack of African-American father presence and involvement among African-American fathers. However, more current research negates those findings by highlighting the contributions African-American fathers make when parenting their children (Coley, 2003; Cooper, 2009; Mandara, Murray & Joyner, 2005). In spite of facing unique psychological and social challenges, such as disproportionate levels of poverty, and race related social barriers, such as the invisibility syndrome (Franklin & Boyd-Franklin, 2000), researchers who have studied the African-American father-daughter dyad have discovered that this relationship has many benefits for African-American girls, including cognitive and academic enhancements, reductions in early sexual behaviors, development of gender identity and increased prosocial behaviors with peers (Black, Dubowitz & Starr, 1999; Coley, 2003; Cooper, 2009; Mandara, Murray & Joyner, 2005). The majority of the research that acknowledges African-American fathering typically involves fathers and sons. Critically, the father-daughter dyad is generally overlooked in psychological investigations of parenting and child development literature. Therefore, this dissertation will examine the African-American father-daughter relationship through application of a dyadic parent-child assessment method called the Marschack Interaction Method. Use of this method will determine the impact that African-American fathers have on their daughters' social and emotional development. An exploratory multiple case study design was developed that observed five African-American father-daughter dyads. Their participation required completion of the following instruments: Multidimensional Parenting Inventory (MDPI), an instrument that has been used in family intervention programs to determine parenting styles. Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), to provide insight into the daughter's behaviors and overall temperament, through the father's perspective. Marschack Interaction Method (MIM), a structured technique used to assess parent-child relationships. Results from this study provide information regarding the amounts of structure, challenge, engagement, and nurturance provided by African-American fathers to their biological or step-daughters, as well as common trends found throughout their interactions. Suggestions for future research studies are also provided.