The Importance of Community in Black Parenting

The Importance of Community in Black Parenting - Illustration by Madelyn Goodnight

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

Picture this: A child loses at a spelling bee competition. He's all alone and begins to cry until a competitor's father goes up to him and offers a word of encouragement. A preteen girl who lives with her single dad gets her period. At a loss, her father asks her “aunties” in the neighborhood to make sure she has everything she needs.

A sense of community has long played a pivotal role in the Black parenting experience. In fact, many Black communities approach parenting as a group effort—offering everything from encouragement to a stern course correction, if needed. While all parents appreciate family and friends who help support their journey, Black parents take pride in a special sense of community. 

“Historically, child rearing has been approached from a collectivistic point of view within the Black community,” explains psychotherapist Kyra Ross, MSEd, MHC-LP. “Even dating back to years of slavery, the biological mother or father may not have always had the opportunity to raise their child. Within the community, there was a person who was designated to watch all of the children that were on that particular plantation or under a house rule."

This history of helping to care for others’ families fostered a long-standing sense of community, which continues to be an integral part of the Black parenting experience. Relying on family, friends, and neighbors provides a sense of support to the parents, can bolster the self-esteem of children, and creates an atmosphere of caring and concern within the Black community.

What Community Looks Like for Black Parents

A sense of community is “a feeling that members have of belonging [and] a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group,” according to the American Psychological Association. That feeling of being a part of something greater is what encourages a person to care about the collective “we” of a group.

This can look many different ways in the Black community. “One person might be part of a community whose neighbor is able to babysit every once in a while," Ross explains. But community can take several forms, she continues. It might be a group of neighbors who notice a family is struggling and come together to bring dinner a few times a week. Or, it could be the after-school program that watches over all the neighborhood kids until the parents get off work. “The commonality in all situations is that the community supports and uplifts each other in the ways that they can,” Ross adds. 

Sometimes, the community is less about actively doing something and more about providing emotional support. Being a listening ear or offering a stern word of tough love can be just what a child needs to head in the right direction.

Kyra Ross, MHC-LP

A community is extremely important to support one in their journey of parenting.

— Kyra Ross, MHC-LP

Parenting, especially when you are a new parent, can feel quite isolating,” Ross says. “A community is extremely important to support one in their journey of parenting." Ultimately, your community is there to offer different perspectives and examples that a child can look up to.

The Benefits of Community in Black Parenting

Studies show a sense of community has a positive impact on mental health, including reducing chronic stress. In addition to offering connection and support, community can also magnify a sense of purpose.

Felice Martin, LPC

You learn your value by learning your history, through knowing your community, through knowing that your community knows you.

— Felice Martin, LPC

“[Community] provides a sense of pride and it provides a sense of value,” says Felice Martin, MS, NCC, LPC, a NeuroCoach and NeuroLeader with Behavioral Health Associates of Georgia, LLC. “You learn your value by learning your history, through knowing your community, and through knowing that your community knows you and what you are capable of doing.” People who care about a child and are aware of that child’s talents also share opportunities—from scholarships to educational workshops to sports endeavors, and so much more.

A sense of community also bolsters kids’ self-esteem and can serve as a catalyst to propel them in life. “It’s motivation, it’s inspiration, it makes us determined to succeed, whatever success may look like,” Martin adds.

Potential Pitfalls of Community

While the benefits of community are numerous for children and parents, there are also potential pitfalls to be aware of. Sometimes, being a part of a community may mean you are the only representation of it. “If you’re the only Black kid in class, or you’re the only Black kid [participating in an activity], there’s pride and pressure,” Martin explains.

The pressure and pride of Blackness is nuanced and deeply individual. With kids, this often looks like a fear of letting their community down. The key, however, is to have balance and to remember to try. “If you’ve done your best, then that’s your best. Only you know what your best is,” Martin says.

Why a Sense of Community Matters to Black Parents

Having someone who understands your point-of-view, and how it impacts the way you raise your children makes a difference. Community means having people around you who can relate to giving “the talk” about interacting with law enforcement, or folks who understand how being "the first Black person" to do something is a badge of honor and pride. Surrounding yourself with people who know exactly what you're going through means your beliefs, values, and experiences are presented to your children repeatedly as valuable and worthwhile.

On top of that, having a community of loving, caring people creates hopefulness and resilience, and a sense of self. “You have to know who you are and know your value and not let other people define you,” Martin concludes. And when children are parented and loved with that type of confidence, there’s no stopping them.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. APA PsychNet. Sense of community: A definition and theory.

  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness. The Importance of Community and Mental Health.

  3. Michalski CA, Diemert LM, Helliwell JF, Goel V, Rosella LC. Relationship between sense of community belonging and self-rated health across life stages. SSM Popul Health. 2020;12:100676. doi:10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100676.

By LaKeisha Fleming
LaKeisha Fleming is a prolific writer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of formats, from film and television scripts, to magazines articles and digital content. She has written for CNN, Tyler Perry Studios, Motherly, Atlanta Parent Magazine, Fayette Woman Magazine, and numerous others. She is passionate about parenting and family, as well as destigmatizing mental health issues. Her book, There Is No Heartbeat: From Miscarriage to Depression to Hope, is authentic, transparent, and providing hope to many.Visit her website at