“I Have to Watch Them Closely”: Native American Parenting Practice and Philosophies

Catherine E. McKinley, Jennifer Lilly, Jessica L. Liddell, Hannah Knipp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


One of many ways that Native American (NA) families demonstrate resilience is by parenting children in some of the most adverse contexts in U.S. society. We use the framework of historical oppression, resilience, and transcendence (FHORT) in a critical ethnography to qualitatively explore the parenting philosophies and practices that NAs use to protect children from the risks of an oppressive context. Data were drawn from 436 members of two Southeastern NA tribes. A team-based critical ethnographic data analysis approach was used to analyze these findings, revealing the following themes: (a) “Your Kids Come First”: Prioritizing Children’s Needs; (b) “They Should Enjoy their Childhood”: Sheltering Children from Family Stressors; (c) “I Have to Watch Them Closely”: Closely Monitoring Children; and, (d) “There’s No Drinking at My House”: Preventing Children’s Exposure to Substance Abuse. Results indicate that NA parents adopt child-centric mindsets and use a number of positive practices to protect their children from the potentially harmful environments created through historical oppression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2952-2965
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Native American
  • Parenting: High-risk environments
  • Resilience


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