Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Pearl Stewart

Committee Member

Brad van Eeden Moorfield

Committee Member

Jennifer Urban


Black American women are experiencing chronic depression at alarming rates. Major racial/sex disparities in disease prevalence indicates Black American women are at increased risk for depression onset due to exposure to poverty and traumatic life events. With the rise of single, female-headed households, children are at increased risk for exposure to maternal mental illness which is defined as an adverse childhood experience impacting their development through adulthood. Black American mothers have the additional burden of racially socializing all children to learn how to manage systematic racist structures embedded in American society, yet daughters require the additional socialization for gender biases. This study sought to examine how living with a mother perceived as depressed impacted the transmission of culturally-specific coping strategies to daughters concerning the challenges with being Black and female. Using critical Hermeneutic phenomenology, qualitative data included in-depth interviews to assess the lived childhood experiences of adult Black American women mothered by women with perceived depression and their adult Strong Black Woman beliefs and behaviors. Identified themes included: The making of strong Black girls, Mothers’ strength lessons and alternative versions with Othermothers, Identifying and challenging learned coping strategies, Defining and redefining their mothers’ version of Strong Black Woman’s role in adulthood, and Mother as a woman. Implications from this study provide context to the intergenerational transmission of psychopathology, gendered strength socialization processes, and the importance of familial and community support for Black American mother/daughter dyads.

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