While existing work points to the ways parenting behaviors and specific value socialization approaches influence children’s internalization of moral values (Baumrind, Child Development 43, 261–267, 1972; Hoffman, Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice, 2001; Grusec & Davidov, Child Development, 81, 687–709, 2010), little work has considered the experiences of African American and lower-income families. The current study capitalized on the availability of 53 video-recorded mother–preadolescent conversations about their disagreements from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (Vogel et al., Early head start children in grade 5: Long-term follow-up of the early head start research and evaluation study sample. OPRE Report # 2011-8, 2010). Using inductive analysis, we assessed mothers’ affective tone, communication styles, and message content during the discussion of problems involving honesty and lying. Mothers tended to display warm yet firm affect, incorporate both autonomy-supportive and dominant-directive communication styles, assert that lying is never acceptable, and explain why lying is problematic. Mothers’ affect, communication styles, and message content reflected a no-nonsense approach to transmitting values about honesty to their children. To our knowledge, the current study is the first qualitative observational investigation of low-income African American mothers’ conversations regarding honesty with their children.
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