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Narrative methods can allow researchers to gather rich data from children regarding their perceptions of their relationship with parents that may not otherwise be captured using tasks, questionnaires, or structured interviews; however, existing coding systems have been established with samples that are largely White and middle class. The current study sought to establish child-inspired codes that would better reflect the sample.


Children aged 5-12 years (M=8.82, 48.9% female) and their caregivers were recruited from high-poverty urban US areas. All participants identified as Black or African American. Children were audiotaped while speaking, uninterrupted, for three minutes about their relationship with their primary caregiver (TMSS; Marshall et al., 1990). A team of five researchers - diverse in race, ethnicity, and background - established a codebook using in-vivo methods, dually coded N=51 transcripts via thematic analysis, and analyzed codes for emergent themes (Braun & Clarke, 2006).


Coders identified N=671 codes from the transcripts, of which 332 (49.5%) were unique codeable units. Five themes emerged from the data: interactions, feelings about caregiver, emotional closeness, reciprocity, and insight.


The use of open-ended speech sampling coupled with qualitative coding allowed cataloging of Black children’s own perceptions of the parent-child relationship. Children emphasized time spent together, mutual understanding, & reciprocity. Many children also showed insight into parents’ perspectives and motivations, including financial awareness. Previous work indicates this dyadic reciprocity may be one way families protect themselves against the negative consequences of financial difficulties (Wilhoit et al., 2021).


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.

Marshall, V.G., Longwell, L., Goldstein, M.J., & Swanson, J.M. (1990). Family factors associated with aggressive symptomatology in boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A research note. J. Child Psychol. Psychiat., 31(4), 629-636.

Wilhoit, S.A., Trentacosta, C.J., Beeghly, M., Boeve, J.L., Lewis, T.L. and Thomason, M.E. (2021). Household chaos and early childhood behavior problems: The moderating role of mother–child reciprocity in lower-income families. Fam Relat, 70, 1040-1054.

Publication Date



narrative methods, three-minute speech sample, parent-child relationships, child perceptions


Child Psychology | Developmental Psychology

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Marcia A. Winter

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Children's Perceptions of Parent-Child Relationships: A Narrative, Inductive Approach