Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Fantasy Lozada, PhD.


This study explored African American fathers’ beliefs about and experiences with their own and their children’s negative emotions (i.e., parental meta-emotion philosophy and parental emotion socialization). Participants included 58 African American fathers in the Midwestern region of the United States between the ages of 29 and 40 (Mage = 30.94). 57 were biological fathers and one was a stepfather to toddlers between 24 and 31 months of age. Participants were invited to complete lab tasks, including the meta-emotion interview (MEI). The MEI is semi-structured interview of parents’ and their children’s negative emotion (i.e., sadness and anger). I selected a subset of questions to analyze participant responses for, and worked with a team to develop a qualitative codebook using a largely deductive approach. We coded 20% (i.e., 12) of the transcripts together before evaluating interrater-reliability. Upon achieving consensus in the training phase of coding (i.e., K = .70; n = 4), we proceeded to code 21 transcripts individually. After individual coding, I conducted a thematic analysis of participants’ responses to the subset of MEI questions using a reflexive and codebook approach. I analyzed and interpreted five themes among codes of African American fathers’ beliefs about and experiences with their own and their children’s negative emotions including 1) responsibility for children’s emotions, 2) complex relationship with anger, 3) reckoning negative emotions, 4) children at the center, and 5) actively working through emotions. Taken together, these five themes demonstrate that African American fathers are largely accepting of their own and supportive of their children’s negative emotions. They are particularly oriented towards their kids in emotion-related behaviors, relying on them as sources of motivation for expression and regulation of their own negative emotion. Fathers described intense experiences with both sadness and anger. However, they clearly distinguished that anger is a dangerous emotion, requiring effort on one’s part to address it for modelling appropriate emotional behavior for children. These findings contribute to the limited PMEP and PES literature on fathers generally, and suggest that the role of African American fathers specifically in the emotion socialization process can be one of a life coach through negative emotions at an early age.


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