Introduction: About the Chosen Article
Prejudice has always stood in the way of efficient communication and developing trustworthy relationships (Chin, 2004). The communication issues between Africa American population and the American population are, unfortunately, no exception to this rule.
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The current state of affairs is hardly tolerable already; however, when it comes to prejudice standing in the way of African American people becoming foster parents, it becomes obvious that the issue needs further research.
In her article Just doing what they gotta do: Single Black custodian fathers coping with the stresses and reaping the rewards of parenting, Coles explores the nature of prejudice and their effect on foster parent-child relationships.
Article Methodology, Argument and Conclusions
In her paper, Coles adopts a rather questionable approach towards the research of the problem. On the one hand, the researcher obviously uses case studies as the means to get the key message across, which helps the audience define the methods rather precisely.
On the other hand, Coles does not establish the research methods in her articled clearly, which begs a question concerning the validity of her conclusions and the significance of the results.
It could be argued, though, that at some point, Coles mentions that she is going to use the longitudinal approach in her study: “a longitudinal methodology comparing father’s and children’s narratives on stress and coping and measuring child outcomes would add depth to the literature” (Coles, 2009, 1335). However, either the effects of the longitudinal approach, or its efficacy, are nowhere to be found in the rest of the paper.
The same can be said about the results of the research – the latter are not tied in with the research methodology, which brings one to questioning the reasonability and the specifics of the methods adopted.
Relevance of the Article: Single Parenting in the XXI Century
Unfortunately, single parenting persists no matter how hard the corresponding services try to bring these rates down. In many respects, the rates of single parenting are related to the rates of divorces; as a matter of fact, the latter is often the key reason for single parenting, though the death of one of the parents can also be the reason.
Therefore, the article in which Coles explores the peculiarities of single parenting is especially relevant in the XXI century. One might argue, though, that single fathers are a much less recurrent case than single mothers. However, the choice of the topic for the given research can be explained logically.
Since single mothers have never been anything out of the ordinary, there has been a ton of pieces of advice on how a mother can raise a son (Panettieri & Hall, 2008). As for the relationships between a father and a child, especially a daughter, the existing sources seem rather scarce (Harrison, Henderson & Leonard, 2007). Hence the topicality of the given paper emerges.
When Ideas Cross: Cherlin and Coles, Back to Back
It is worth mentioning that there are alternative viewpoints on the issue of single parenting and the specifics of the cultural background as one of the defining factors of the parenting processes. For instance, Cherlin offers a different viewpoint on the problem.
It is worth noting, however, that Cherlin (2013) does not consider the problem of African American people adopting children as single parents; instead, he views the problem in a wider scope, i.e., considering the issue of single parenting in general.
Judging by the arguments provided by Cherlin, the true reasons for single parents in general and Black single fathers in particular to bump into obstacles when adopting certain parenting strategies to raise their foster children can be related to the age gap and the associated misunderstanding between the representatives of different generations.
Therefore, it must be admitted that, for the most part, the issues faced by single Black foster fathers can and must be related to the cultural background of the latter (Meezah & Shireman, 1995).
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Indeed, when considering the way in which Cherlin covered the subject in question, one must mention the briefness, as well as the fact that Cherlin’s arguments are very generic, much like his approach towards the problem. Coles, on the contrary, asks a specific question and looks for a particular answer, which makes her research all the more ample and thorough.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Argument
Needless to say, the given article has its doubtless strengths and its obvious weaknesses. Like any other research, it manages to convey a particular message in a very impressive manner, yet the author’s attempts to go beyond the assigned material fall unfortunately flat. To start with, the strongest aspects of the article should be listed.
Among the evident strengths of the paper, one must name the fact that the author has actually used case studies to research the problem instead of relying on theory and the information provided by other scholars. The very fact that Coles actually bothered to consider original case studies makes the paper unique and helps evaluate the problem more adequately.
Since the case studies in question have been conducted comparatively recently, they allow for defining the scale to which the problem has grown by now.
The fact that Coles uses several case studies and considers the problem of single parenting among the representatives of Black population makes the research all the more valuable. With the help of the unique data acquired in the course of an authentic research, one is able to provide an original solution to the problem of single parenting, and Coles uses this opportunity fully.
However, the paper also has several problems. The basic one concerns the research methodology, which has been referred to previously. Sadly enough, the part that was supposed to be the strongest element of the research turned out its basic weakness.
Despite the fact that Coles clearly uses the elements of qualitative research in her paper, she never stares how she is going to acquire the data, nor does she comment on the trustworthiness of the sources that she gets the information from.
Though the given remark might be regarded as a nitpick, it is still important to know how the research is being carried out, and, without the proper introduction of the research tools and methodology, the paper is most likely to appear quite jumbled, which Coles’ article displays in a rather explicit way.
Arguing Against Coles’ Point: The True Reasons for Avoiding Certain Strategies
It is worth noting, however, that not only Coles’ methodology, but also her argument has its flaws. Attacking the article from a logical standpoint, one should reconsider the key idea that Coles is attempting at conveying in her paper.
According to Coles, these are the cultural differences between the American and the Black American people that prevent the successful adoption of parenting strategies within different social and cultural settings. However, Coles seems to miss a very important issue.
When it comes to defining the way in which Coles addresses the problem of single parenting in foster care, one will notice inevitably that Coles tends to view the problem through the lens of parents; as a result, the factors inducing the foster fathers’ behavior are attributed to the personal and social chances, including the behavioral patterns change, the change in communication manner, etc., as the fathers see it.
Herein a major misunderstanding might be lying. Apart from considering the specifics of the fathers’ behavior as the changes induced by the outside factors, such as the influence of the society, Coles should have considered the aforementioned changes as a result of foster fathers having a unique experience of communication with foster children.
The process of creating ties is not easy by definition; when enhanced by the stress that both the parent and the child are going through, it becomes a major obstacle in the evolution of relationships between a foster father and a child.
However, the given remark does not mean that Coles’ argument should be considered invalid; quite on the contrary, the two level each other perfectly, allowing for two different opinions to exist and spawn numerous theories. The more complex the problem is, the more numerous its alternative solutions are, and the idea of single Black fathers raising adopted children belongs to the category of extremely complicated ones.
True, while there are many social factors that can be regarded as the ones in favor of the given solution, there are even more factors that point at how risky the given solution is. The key argument, however, concerns the fact that most of the “threat factors” are spawned by the stereotypes created by the American population. As a result, the seemingly simple dilemma turns out rather difficult to approach, not to mention being solved.
Conclusion: Single Parenting and the Related Issues
With that being said, Coles’ argument must be recognized as rather valid. It is stupid to assume that race has anything to do with the right upbringing of foster children; however, social and, more importantly, cultural issues, which prevent the African American single fathers from raising foster children, are to be considered closer.
It goes without saying that Coles has done a great research and embraced a number of issues concerning the problem of tension in the relationships between a foster parent and an adopted child. However, Coles’ key problem is that she does not try to push the envelope and view the problem outside the stereotypical image of the Black population.
To give Coles credit, she did outline the basic social prejudice that the Black population has to face on a regular basis, as well as display the way in which these prejudice can affect the relationships between a foster parent and his adopted daughter/son.
Coles conducts a massive research by defining the key stereotypes that affect the way in which the Black population is perceived by the society and describes what might happen once these prejudices are off limit in a very impressive manner.
However, the given paper still seems to be focused on the social aspect too much and, therefore, leave the personal one out. Even though it is clear that society affects personal vision and shapes individuals’ behavior, the interpersonal relationships between the foster parents and their children deserve being considered closer.
Cherlin, A. J. (2013). Public and private families: An introduction (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Chin, J. L. (2004). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Coles, R. L. (2009). Just doing what they gotta do: Single Black custodian fathers coping with the stresses and reaping the rewards of parenting. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 1311–1338. Retrieved from ProQuest database.
Harrison, J., Henderson, M. & Leonard, R. (2007). Different dads” Fathers’ stories of parenting disabled children. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Meezah, W. & Shireman, J. F. (1995). Care and commitment: Foster parent adoption decisions. New York, NY: State University Plaza.
Panettieri, G. & Hall, P. S. (2008). The single mother’s guide to raising remarkable boys. Avon, MA: Adams Media.