Mothers' Attitudes About and Goals for Early Adolescents' Cross-Ethnic Peer Relationships: A Qualitative Analysis


  • Military Personnel & Families Research Initiative, The Pennsylvania State University, 002 Allenway Building, University Park, PA 16802.

  • Department of Child Psychotherapy, Graduate School of Education, 222 Wang Simni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 133-791, South Korea.

Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115 (


This qualitative investigation examined parental attitudes and goals about cross-ethnic peers in an ethnically diverse sample of 78 caregivers of 7th graders. Four attitudes about cross-ethnic peer relationships emerged from the analyses: Ethnicity is not important, ethnicity is not important with conditions attached, ethnicity is important, and child is given complete autonomy in friendship choice. Egalitarianism, pluralism, cultural socialization, acculturation, and preventing racism emerged as goals regarding cross-ethnic relationships. Parents who reported that cross-ethnic peer relationships were not important to them did not report goals of pluralism or preventing racism. Parents who reported that ethnicity was not important in peer relationships, with specific conditions attached, only reported that preventing racism was an important goal. Parents who reported that cross-ethnic peer relationships were important reported having goals of pluralism, cultural socialization, and preventing racism. When granting autonomy in regard to peer relationships was important, parents reported goals of egalitarianism.