Young black single mothers and the parenting problematic: The Church as model of family and as educator

Eileen M Ledford, Fordham University


This dissertation examines the parenting practices of African American and Caribbean young, single mothers who live in the inner city of New York City. It proposes that their lives and their ability to care adequately for their children are severely hampered because of insufficient attention to their needs by society and often by fathers offer little or no financial support. On the other hand the dissertation compliments the role played by extended family and some black churches to ensure that such women receive assistance and compassion. While proposing that the problems black women and men face raising family date back to slavery, it suggests that the stereotypical picture of the promiscuous black woman is still evident in the way single mothers are treated. It suggests that the womanist movement has done much to encourage women to speak up about their experiences, to take charge of their lives and to raise strong families even if they do so without the support of their men. A case study method was used and ten women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine were interviewed as a part of this study. The dissertation presents thick descriptions of the women and their stories, their parenting problems, and their expressions of what they need to better perform their tasks as single parents. The majority of the women had their children as teenagers. Two of them were teenagers at the time of the interview. All the women thought they were good parents and did not want their children to make the same mistakes they made. All the women wanted their children to receive Christian instruction but did not think they were capable of giving it themselves. The research question for this dissertation is, “How can the church help young, black single mothers effectively handle parenting through its religious education program?” This dissertation offers suggestions as to how the Church can model ways of being family and educator. It proposes guidelines the Church can use to construct a curriculum for religious education that is formational as well as transformational, that can strengthen single mother families, and which may eventually stem the tide of black teen pregnancies and out-of-wedlock childbearing.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Religion|Black studies|Womens studies|Religious education|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Ledford, Eileen M, "Young black single mothers and the parenting problematic: The Church as model of family and as educator" (2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3395082.