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One book says a strong religious element is very important to African-American families

Publishers push parenting books for African-Americans

Web posted on: Monday, February 08, 1999 3:59:55 PM

From Correspondent Pat Etheridge

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Parenting is an encompassing chore. And as each child is different, advice on the subject is not easily generalized to a broad market.

Perhaps that is why there seems to be more specific choices on bookshelves today. One target audience is the African-American parents, and publishers are satisfying the need for information.

Several new books address the common questions and concerns of black parents. Some titles include "The Black Parenting Book", "Raising Black Children" and "The Complete African-American Baby Checklist".

Dr. Anne Beal, co-author of "The Black Parenting Book", said she became aware through her practice of the need for separate parenting books.

"I have many African-American patients," says Beal, "and they came to me with very specific questions about hair care, skin care and how do I talk to my child about race."

One book stresses the importance of extended-family bonding

Harvard educator Alvin Poussaint co-authored the guide "Raising Black Children". It celebrates the culture but also identifies traditions -- such as spanking -- that may no longer be considered sound.

"They were afraid if the children were not very obedient they would get in trouble with white people for being uppity or being too agressive," says Poussaint. "So they were very, very strict. I would say today that we don't need to beat our children."

Poussaint says there are any number of issues the black parent must face, including the use racial slurs against their children.

"I think you need to explain what the term means and that it's a mean and derogatory term," says Poussaint. "And then you have to help your child to understand that it's the other child's problem who called them that name."

For new parents, Avon Books has published "The Complete African-American Baby Checklist," a guide for first-time parents that acts as an organizing system while offering information on specific African-American concerns.

For instance, there is an updated list of publications and clothing and toy manufacturers; chapters titled "Medical Facts African-American Mothers-to-be Should Know," "Special Considerations for African-American Skin and Hair," and "Boarding Schools and Camps for African-American Children."

Atlanta pediatrician Carla Neal-Haley says the new guides are helpful to her practice and her patients.

"So I think it's very important to have some resource or reference that parents can pick up and see somebody that looks like themselves or see physicians that are similar have backgrounds to them, talking about issues that are important to them," says Neal-Haley.

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