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PURPOSE: Studies suggest that the quality of parent-adolescent communication about sex uniquely predicts adolescent sexual behavior. Previous studies have relied predominantly on self-report data. Observational methods, which are not susceptible to self-report biases, may be useful in examining the associations between the quality of parent-adolescent communication about sex and adolescent sexual behavior more objectively. METHOD: With a sample of adolescents (N = 55, 58% male, 44% White, Mage = 15.8) and their parents, we used hierarchical logistic regression analyses to examine the associations between the observed quality of parent-adolescent communication about dating and sex and the likelihood of adolescents’ sexual intercourse. RESULTS: The quality of parent-adolescent communication about dating and sex predicted sexual behavior. Specifically, lecturing was associated with a higher likelihood of adolescents having had sexual intercourse. CONCLUSIONS: The quality of parent-adolescent communication about sex is a unique correlate of adolescent sexual behavior and warrants further investigation. Thus, it serves as a potential target of preventive interventions that aim to foster adolescent sexual health behaviors.
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Original article
Quality of ParenteAdolescent Conversations About Sex and
Adolescent Sexual Behavior: An Observational Study
Adam A. Rogers, M.S.
a,*
, Thao Ha, Ph.D.
a
, Elizabeth A. Stormshak, Ph.D.
b
, and Thomas J. Dishion, Ph.D.
c
a
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Family and Human Development, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
b
Counseling Psychology and Human Services, College of Education, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
c
Prevention Research Center, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Article history: Received August 29, 2014; Accepted April 21, 2015
Keywords: Sexual behavior; Adolescent; Observation; Parentechild communication; Quality of communication
ABSTRACT
Purpose: Studies suggest that the quality of parenteadolescent communication about sex uniquely
predicts adolescent sexual behavior. Previous studies have relied predominantly on self-report
data. Observational methods, which are not susceptible to self-report biases, may be useful in
examining the associations between the quality of parenteadolescent communication about sex
and adolescent sexual behavior more objectively.
Methods: With a sample of adolescents (N ¼55, 58% male, 44% white, M
age
¼15.8) and their
parents, we used hierarchical logistic regression analyses to examine the associations between the
observed quality of parenteadolescent communication about dating and sex and the likelihood of
adolescentssexual intercourse.
Results: The quality of parenteadolescent communication about dating and sex predicted sexual
behavior. Specically, lecturing was associated with a higher likelihood of adolescents having had
sexual intercourse.
Conclusions: The quality of parenteadolescent communication about sex is a unique correlate of
adolescent sexual behavior and warrants further investigation. Thus, it serves as a potential target
of preventive interventions that aim to foster adolescent sexual health behaviors.
Ó2015 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. All rights reserved.
IMPLICATIONS AND
CONTRIBUTION
The quality of parente
adolescent communication
about sex may be uniquely
associated with adolescent
sexual behavior. Parents
that were observed
lecturing their adolescents
about dating and sex had
children who reported a
higher likelihood of sexual
intercourse. Family-based
intervention services tar-
geting quality of parente
adolescent communication
are justied.
Parentsdirect communication with their adolescent children
about sex plays a key role in preventing adolescentsearly and
risky sexual behavior [1]. Most research on parenteadolescent
communication about sex has focused on the frequency and/or
content of their sex-related conversations [2]. Research has
shown, however, that the quality of these conversations is also a
reliable predictor of adolescent sexual health and behavior.
Specically, parenteadolescent communication about sex that
is receptive, supportive, and open in moderate degrees is
associated with later age of initiating sexual intercourse [3],
diminished sexual risk-taking [4,5], and early adolescents
greater valuing of sexual abstinence [6].
On the other hand, when this sex-related communication is
parent-dominated or harsh, it may have the opposite effect.
Lefkowitz et al. [7] observed mothereadolescent conversations
about AIDS and found that mothersdomination of these con-
versations predicted greater discrepancies between mothers
and adolescentsknowledge about AIDS transmission and pre-
vention. A follow-up study showed this same pattern in an
ethnically diverse sample, specically that mothers who domi-
nated conversations about AIDS had adolescents who knew less
about these same AIDS topics than those whose mothers
engaged them with a more interactive communication style [8].
*Address correspondence to: Adam A. Rogers, M.S., T. Denny Sanford School
of Social and Family Dynamics, 951 S Cady Mall, Arizona State University, Tempe,
AZ 85281.
E-mail address: adam.rogers@asu.edu (A.A. Rogers).
www.jahonline.org
1054-139X/Ó2015 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.04.010
Journal of Adolescent Health 57 (2015) 174e178
Studies on other forms of adolescent problem behavior have
shown a similar trend, specically that caregiversuse of criti-
cism and contempt to solve difculties with adolescents may
exacerbate problem behavior over time [9]. In sum, when it
comes to parenteadolescent conversations about sex, the quality
of parentscommunication with their adolescent children may
uniquely relate to how well adolescents internalize parents
messages.
Currently, most of the associations between the quality of
communication and adolescent sexual behaviors are derived
from retrospective and self-report data [2]. Such data are infor-
mative but are also susceptible to self-report biases that could
misrepresent how parents and adolescents actually communi-
cate about sex. Observational coding by independent observers
may tap these communication processes with increased preci-
sion, an approach that has already been successfully employed in
a number of studies [8,10,11].
Building on this research, we used trained observer ratings of
parenteadolescent conversations about dating and sex to
examine the associations between the quality of parente
adolescent communication and adolescentsengagement in
sexual intercourse. Based on the literature previously discussed,
we hypothesized that open and supportive communication
characterized by reciprocity and teaching would be associated
with adolescentsdiminished likelihood of sexual intercourse,
whereas harsh communication characterized by lecturing would
be associated with an increased likelihood of sexual intercourse.
We examined these relations while controlling for two general
parenting variables, parental monitoring, and parenteadolescent
relationship quality. Both these variables are protective factors in
adolescentssexual behavior and health [12,13]. Furthermore,
parental monitoring and parenteadolescent relationship quality
may manifest in how families communicate about dating and
sex.
Methods
Participants
Participants were a subgroup of families from a randomized
intervention study in which the family check-up intervention
[14] was administered to 197 families of middle-school students.
Of those families, 55 (28%) opted for additional follow-up sup-
port and comprise the current sample. The average age of the
adolescents was 15.8 years (standard deviation [SD] ¼.59).
Thirty-two of the adolescents (58.2%) were male; 24 (44%) self-
reported as white, 14 (25%) as Latino/a, and 9 (16%) as African-
American. The median gross annual income of the families was
$35,000e$45,00 0, slightly below the national average of $52,000
[15].
Procedure
After obtaining approval through the University of Oregon
Institutional Review Board, participating families were visited in
their homes or invited to come into the Oregon Child and Family
Center laboratory, where they participated in a series of video-
taped conversation tasks. First, they discussed expectations for
their adolescent regarding friendships and dating for 5 minutes.
Second, they discussed expectations around sex, alcohol and
drug use, and risky behaviors for 8 minutes. At least one (n ¼36;
33 mothers, three fathers) but sometimes both (n ¼19) parents
were present for these conversations. Immediately after
completing these conversation tasks, family members lled out
surveys assessing a variety of health and problem behaviors.
Measures
Quality of parenteadolescent communication. The rst two
authors developed a coding manual that assessed global parente
adolescent communication processes. A subset of the coding
manual was designed to examine the quality of parente
adolescent communication. Quality of communication about
sex-related topics has typically been conceptualized as the
degree of openness, mutuality, and comfort between the
conversing parties [16]. Based on this conceptualization, we
developed 19 items tapping various parent-based aspects (e.g.,
teaching, lecturing, interest/exploration, prying, limit-setting)
and family-level aspects (e.g., reciprocity) of communication
quality, all on a nine-point scale.
Two coders were trained for reliability purposes. These
coders were instructed to code parenteadolescent communi-
cation only when dating and sex were the specictopicsunder
discussion (i.e., coders did not code parenteadolescent
communication when the topic under discussion was some-
thing other than dating or sex, such as friends or drug use). The
topic of sex included topics about kissing; noncoital sexual
behaviors such as petting, necking, and oral sex; sexual inter-
course; contraceptives; and pubertal development. Dating
included topics around attraction to another person, desirable
qualities in a partner, romantic interests, irting,going on
dates, and having a committed dating relationship. During
training, if codersscores were discordant (off by more than two
points), coding episodes were reviewed with the rst two
authors. Training meetings were held until an interrater reli-
ability (intraclass correlation, or ICC) of .73 was reached. Thirty
percent of the tapes were coded by both coders for reliability
purposes.
After all 55 familiesconversations were coded, we ran an
exploratory factor analysis (principal axis factoring) using an
oblique (promax) rotation to identify the latent structure un-
derlying the quality of parenteadolescent communication about
dating and sex. Items loading below .40 and/or cross loading
above .35 on any of the factors were removed from the model.
One additional item was removed because it displayed poor
interrater reliability. The nal extraction revealed 12 items
loading onto three underlying dimensions that explained 63.99%
of the variance among the items (see Table 1). These underlying
dimensions were reciprocity,lecturing, and teaching.
Reciprocity consisted of four items and represented the family
memberspositive and mutual participation in the conversation.
Thus, reciprocity was coded as the degree of mutuality among
family members verbally (e.g., all family members exchanging
ideas) emotionally (e.g., positive or neutral emotional expres-
sions among all family members) and behaviorally (e.g., com-
plementary body language among family members). As a
subscale, these items displayed adequate internal consistency
(
a
¼.70).
Lecturing consisted of four items and represented the parents
cautioning and warning about the negative consequences of
dating and sex that was done in a harsh and/or demeaning tone.
Thus, lecturing was coded when attempts were made by the
parent to belittle or disempower the adolescent and his/her
opinions (e.g., .does the parent treat the child as if his/her
A.A. Rogers et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 57 (2015) 174e178 175
opinion did not matter?). As a subscale, these four items dis-
played adequate internal consistency (
a
¼.85).
Teaching consisted of four items representing the direct
communication about positive and/or negative issues around
dating and sex, done in a positive or neutral tone. The key dif-
ference between teaching and lecturing was that teaching was
characterized by a spirit of education and/or instruction and was
absent of a demeaning or belittling tone (e.g., Does the parent
explain/clarify positive emotional aspects of relationships?and
Does the parent explain the risks of sexual activity?). These
four items together displayed adequate internal consistency
(
a
¼.87).
When both parents were present for the conversation,
mothersand fathersscores were averaged, as a one-way
multivariate analysis of variance revealed no signicant mean
differences between mothers and fathers on reciprocity,lecturing,
or teaching;F(3, 70) ¼.61, p¼.61.
Sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse was the dependent variable
and was measured with a single item assessing whether ado-
lescents had ever had sexual intercourse (0 ¼No,1¼Yes).
Control variables. Parental monitoring was included as a control
variable because of its documented association with adolescent
sexual behavior. Parents reported the frequency of their moni-
toring with eight items (e.g., How often do you know what your
child does during his/her free time?) scored on a ve-point scale
(1 ¼almost never,5¼almost always). This scale displayed
adequate internal consistency (
a
¼.81).
A composite variable of adolescentsand parentsreported
relationship quality was calculated. Adolescents reported on the
quality of their relationships with each parent by indicating their
level of agreement on nine items (e.g., I feel close to my mom/
dad), each scored on a ve-point scale (1 ¼strongly disagree,
5¼strongly agree). Item scores were averaged for a total score,
and adolescentstotal scores for their mothers and fathers were
averaged for an overall adolescent-reported relationship quality
score (
a
¼.93). Parents reported on the closeness of their
relationships with their adolescent on a single item with a
10-point scale (1 ¼distant,10¼close). Adolescent- and parent-
reported scores were strongly correlated, r¼.77, and were
standardized and summed to create our overall relationship
quality composite score.
Finally, we assessed percentage of time spent discussing dating/
sex during the videotaped conversations (e.g., What percentage
of the time does the family discuss dating and sex?). This single
item was coded on a scale of 0e10 and displayed adequate
interrater reliability (ICC ¼.73).
Demographic variables. Demographic characteristics of the
adolescent included age (in months), ethnicity (African-American,
Asian American, European American, Hispanic/Latino/a, other),
and gender (0 ¼female, 1 ¼male). Parents reported on their gross
annual income.
Analytic strategy
After calculating means (hereafter represented as M) and SDs,
we used independent samples ttests and Pearson chi-square
tests to compare adolescents who did and did not report hav-
ing had sexual intercourse on the communication dimensions
and on the control variables. We also conducted zero-order
correlations and independent samples ttests to examine the
associations among the communication dimensions and the
control variables. We then used hierarchical logistic regression
analyses to examine how the parenteadolescent communication
dimensions were associated with the likelihood that adolescents
reported having had sexual intercourse. In the rst step, we
controlled for parental monitoring and parenteadolescent rela-
tionship quality. We also controlled for time spent discussing
dating/sex, gross annual income, gender, age, and dummy codes
for ethnicity (white, Latino/a, and African-American), each
controlled for separately. In the second step, we entered the
parenteadolescent communication dimensions. In a nal step,
interactions between the communication factors and time spent
discussing dating/sex, income, gender, age, and ethnicity were
tested.
Results
Descriptive statistics
Means and SDs are presented in Table 2. Of the 55 adoles-
cents, 15 (27.3%) reported having had sexual intercourse. On
average, parents and adolescents discussed dating and sex for
about half of the taped conversation tasks (M¼5.00, SD ¼1.50).
Table 1
Rotated pattern matrix with factor loadings for quality of communication about dating and sex
Item Pattern matrix
Reciprocity Lecturing Teaching
How behaviorally reciprocal is the family? 1.030 .207 .042
How emotionally reciprocal is the family? .852 .072 .008
How verbally reciprocal is the family? .741 .005 .011
How much does the family seem to agree during the discussion? .709 .184 .030
Does the parent lecture the child about the risks and dangers of romantic relationships? .056 .980 .077
While explaining issues surrounding relationships, does the parent treat the child as if his/her opinion did not matter? .046 .905 .044
Does the parent diminish the importance of romantic relationships? .074 .720 .219
Does the parent forbid the child from being involved in a romantic relationship? .044 .501 .122
Does the parent explain and/or clarify positive emotional aspects of relationships? .084 .009 .972
Does the parent discuss the benets of romantic relationships? .025 .092 .778
Does the parent explain the risks of sexual activity? .251 .265 .416
Does the parent explain how to employ relationship skills, how partners should treat each other, or how one should feel
in a relationship?
.079 .109 .413
Bolded loadings indicate the factor that the item loaded onto.
A.A. Rogers et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 57 (2015) 174e178176
These conversations about dating and sex displayed moderate
to high levels of reciprocity (M¼6.01, SD ¼1.74), with low levels
of both lecturing (M¼2.23, SD ¼1.53) and teaching (M¼2.08,
SD ¼.96).
Independent samples ttests were also conducted to examine
differences between adolescents who did and did not have sex-
ual intercourse. Lecturing was higher for families of adolescents
who reported having had sexual intercourse (M¼3.44, SD ¼
1.99) versus families of adolescents who reported not having had
sexual intercourse (M¼1.77, SD ¼1.05); t(51) ¼13.88, p<.001.
Parental monitoring was lower for families of adolescents who
reported having had sexual intercourse (M¼3.36, SD ¼1.06)
versus families of adolescents who reported not having had
sexual intercourse (M¼4.32, SD ¼.52); t(51) ¼3.19, p<.01.
Pearson chi-square tests were then conducted to examine the
relations among demographic factors of ethnicity with sexual
intercourse. Results revealed a marginally signicant effect for
African-Americans,
c
2
(1, N ¼53) ¼3.31, p¼.07, suggesting that
African-American adolescents were more likely to report having
had sexual intercourse than adolescents of other ethnic groups.
There were no signicant gender differences in sexual inter-
course,
c
2
(1, N ¼53) ¼.58, p<.49.
Zero-order correlations were also computed to examine the
relations among the parenting dimensions and various controls.
Reciprocity and parental monitoring were negatively associated
with sexual intercourse, whereas lecturing was positively asso-
ciated with sexual behavior (see Table 2).
Quality of parenteadolescent communication. One-way analyses
of variance were conducted to examine group mean differences in
the communication dimensions and demographic factors of
ethnicity and gender. Results showed signicant group mean
differences in lecturing; F(3, 51) ¼5.72, p<.01. Follow-up com-
parisons showed that lecturing was higher among African-
American families (M¼3.75, SD ¼.48) than that in white
families (M¼1.57, SD ¼.28). There were no group differences in
reciprocity, F(3, 51) ¼.98, p¼.41, or teaching, F(3, 51) ¼.62,
p¼.60. Finally, results showed no signicant gender differences in
the communication dimensions of lecturing, F(1, 52) ¼.05, p¼.82;
reciprocity, F(1, 52) ¼1.77, p¼.19; or teaching, F(1, 52) ¼.53, p¼
.47. Thus, the prevalence of the three communication dimensions
did not differ signicantly when the child was a male or a female.
Logistic hierarchical regression
Finally, to test this studys main hypotheses, a logistic hier-
archical regression analysis was performed to examine how the
parenteadolescent communication dimensions were associated
with the likelihood that adolescents reported having had sexual
intercourse. After controlling for parental monitoring, relation-
ship quality, age, gender, ethnicity, annual income, and time
spent discussing dating and sex, results of the logistic regression
showed that lecturing predicted adolescentssexual intercourse,
e
b
¼1.86, p<.05 (see Table 2 for nal model). The stronger
presence of parentslecturing during conversations about dating
and sex increased the likelihood that adolescents reported hav-
ing had sexual intercourse by 86%. Interactions with time spent
discussing dating/sex, income, gender, age, and ethnicity were
not signicant.
Discussion
This study examined the associations among the quality of
parenteadolescent communication about dating and sex and
adolescentsengagement in sexual intercourse. Findings showed
that communication about dating and sex characterized by
lecturing was associated with an increased likelihood of sexual
intercourse. Specically, parents who lectured their adolescents
during conversations about dating and sex were more likely to
have children who reported engaging in sexual intercourse.
Notably, this association emerged despite the relatively low
presence of lecturing in these conversations. One interpretation
of these ndings is that lecturing adolescents about dating and
sex may effectively increase adolescentschances of engaging in
sexual intercourse because they may be less likely to internalize
messages about sexuality that are delivered in a harsh manner.
Table 2
Descriptive statistics for the key variables and nal logistic regression model
Variables Correlations among communication factors and controls Final logistic regression
model predicting sexual
behavior
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
b
SE Exp(
b
)
(1) Reciprocity d.10 .28 .90
(2) Lecturing/belittling .41
**
d.62 .30 1.86
*
(3) Teaching controls .16 .09 d.55 .39 1.74
(4) Parental monitoring .44
***
.39
**
.08 d.80 .62 .45
(5) Relationship quality .13 .03 .04 .34
*
d
(6) Time discussing sex .08 .38
**
.13 .18 .17 d
(7) Age .04 .10 .05 .01 .15 .07 d
(8) Annual income .08 .29
*
.01 .15 .03 .03 .11 d
(10) Gender
(11) Ethnicity: African-American .74 .96 2.09
(12) Ethnicity: white
(13) Ethnicity: Latino
Mean 6.01 2.23 2.08 4.14 .00 5.00 15.8
Standard deviation 1.74 1.53 .96 .77 1.54 1.50 .59
Controls included in the nal model are those that were related to sexual intercourse in descriptive analyses. These include parental monitoring and the dummy code for
African-American.
SE ¼standard error.
*p<.05; **p<.01; ***p<.001.
A.A. Rogers et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 57 (2015) 174e178 177
This explanation is consistent with previous work on paren-
techild communication about other sensitive topics. During
conversations about AIDS, mothersconversational dominance
was associated with lower levels of adolescentsAIDS knowledge
[7,8], and during conversations about problem behaviors, care-
giversuse of criticism and contempt was associated with greater
problem behavior over time [9].
An alternative explanation is that adolescentssexual activity
may elicit harsher parenting around sex. Although parents
knowledge was not readily detectable through our observations,
it is possible that adolescentsprevious sexual activity may be
known by some of the parents in our sample, which for certain
families could be a source of continuing parenteadolescent con-
ict. In such cases, the presence of lecturing during these con-
versations may simply be a reection of this continuing conict.
Previous work has found that some parents are expressly
uncomfortable about accepting their adolescentsdeveloping
sexuality, which may manifest in less mutual conversations about
sex [17]. For these kinds of parents, learning about their adoles-
centssexual activity may result in deliberate attempts to control
and restrict their adolescentssexual behaviors.
Regarding high quality communication about dating and sex,
our results showed that neither reciprocity nor teaching was
associated with adolescentslikelihood of having had sexual in-
tercourse. Previous work shows that high-quality communica-
tion about sex is associated with adolescentsdiminished sexual
risk taking [4,5]. In this study, we examined engagement in
sexual intercourse; it is possible that an association would
emerge had we examined sexual risk behaviors. Future work
would do well to examine the associations among quality of
parenteadolescent communication about dating and sex and
adolescentsengagement in risky sexual behaviors.
Some caution should be exercised when interpreting these
results. First, our data are cross-sectional and cannot test the
directionality of the association between quality of communi-
cation and sexual intercourse. Whether lecturing predicts sexual
intercourse, sexual intercourse predicts lecturing, or both, can be
better estimated using longitudinal data. Second, our sample was
not large enough to allow for highly reliable multiple group
comparisons (i.e., across ethnicity) on the communication
dimensions and on the dependent variable, sexual intercourse.
Finally, we observed communication about dating and sex in a
single laboratory setting in which parents and adolescents were
prompted to discuss these issues. Thus, these conversations may
not fully capture familiesnaturally occurring (or nonoccurring)
communication processes about these topics.
Despite these limitations, our ndings contribute to
broader literature and practice by showing that the quality of
parenteadolescent communication about dating and sex may be
a unique correlate of adolescent sexual behavior. Specically, the
quality of parenteadolescent communication about dating and
sex was associated with adolescent sexual intercourse after
controlling for general parenting variables, including parental
monitoring and relationship quality, both of which are known
correlates of adolescent sexual behavior. As such, these ndings
encourage more research on the quality parenteadolescent
communication about dating and sex in adolescentssexual
health. Our ndings also suggest that the quality of
parenteadolescent communication may be an effective target for
existing family-based interventions aiming to foster adolescent
sexual health. Finally, our ndings are of value to teachers, youth
workers, and health care professionals who also communicate
with adolescents regarding their sexual health.
Acknowledgments
The authors acknowledge the contribution of the Portland
Public Schools, the Project Alliance staff, and participating youth
and families. Partial support for this research was also provided
by the Oregon Child and Family Center (http://cfc.uoregon.edu)
and the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
as part of the Lives of Teens Enterprise (https://thesanfordschool.
asu.edu/lives). The authors would like to acknowledge the efforts
of staff members and students who contributed to this research,
including Jenene Peterson, Charlotte Winter, Allison Caruthers,
and Adelaide Dale.
Funding Sources
This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug
Abuse Grant DA018374 to E.A.S.
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A.A. Rogers et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 57 (2015) 174e178178
... Positive relationships and closeness between parents and children are associated with more open communication about sexual topics (Holman & Kellas, 2015;Powers, 2017;Wilson et al., 2010), as well as delayed sexual debut and safer sex behavior in general (Abrego, 2011). One study by Rogers et al. (2015) sampled 55 adolescents and their parents and found that harsher messages from parents against sexual engagement was associated with higher levels of sexual activity in adolescents, while high-quality sexual communication was linked with lower levels of risky sexual involvement. It may be concluded that adolescents may be resistant to harsh or negative delivery of sexual information and would benefit from more thoughtful discussion. ...
... Additionally, there is evidence from previous research that positive and open communication about sexual topics between parents and children is associated with lower levels of sexual activity during adolescence and less risky sexual behavior overall (Rogers et al., 2015). It may be that young adults who have engaged in less risky behavior experience fewer negative consequences that may impede satisfaction (such as STIs, previous traumatic abortions, etc.) and thus may more easily enjoy greater satisfaction in sexual experiences. ...
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Young adults (18–30) tend to show insufficient levels of communication about sex with their romantic partners, despite its many benefits to relationships among this age group. Learned sexual shame and guilt can play a role in inhibiting sexual communication with partners, and early messages about sex from parents stemming from narrow cultural boundaries of communication may play a role in fostering sexual shame and guilt from a young age, potentially influencing later sexual communication patterns with partners. We sought to identify whether a significant relationship existed between the sexual communication participants received from parents while growing up and their current sexual communication satisfaction, relational satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction with romantic partners. Path analysis revealed a significant, positive link between parent–child sexual communication and current partner sexual communication satisfaction while controlling for all other variables and length of relationship. ANOVA analyses revealed greater reported sex guilt among males and highly religious participants. Correlation and regression analyses yielded significant, positive relationships between former parent–child communication quality and current young adult sexual satisfaction with partner. Clinical implications and research directions are discussed for increasing open parent–child sex communication.
... Examining components of PCSC beyond frequency is crucial (Lefkowitz, 2002) as varying characteristics of PCSC, such as quality of communication, can contribute to an individual's meaning making of sexuality. Although specific definitions may vary across studies and individuals, in general, highquality PCSC is characterized by open discussion which welcomes the perspectives of both the parent and the child and which involves encouragement of the child's questions, mutual engagement in the conversation, comfort while discussing sexuality topics, and the parent's willingness to answer the child's questions (Efrati & Gola, 2019;Foshay & O'Sullivan, 2020;Lefkowitz, 2002;Ritchwood et al., 2018;Rogers et al., 2015Rogers et al., , 2020. This parental modeling likely communicates to the child that talking about sex is okay and that sexuality does not have to be scary, which then positively affects the child's understanding of sexuality and, therefore, their psychological sexual well-being. ...
... This parental modeling likely communicates to the child that talking about sex is okay and that sexuality does not have to be scary, which then positively affects the child's understanding of sexuality and, therefore, their psychological sexual well-being. In fact, high-quality PCSC has been shown to be associated with more frequent PCSC (Rogers et al., 2020), increased disclosure by adolescents of sexual feelings and behaviors to parents , fewer compulsive sexual behaviors (Efrati & Gola, 2019), lower odds of having sexual problems (Foshay & O'Sullivan, 2020), greater safe-sex competence (Mastro & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2015), more positive attitudes about condoms (Lefkowitz & Espinosa-Hernandez, 2007;Malcolm et al., 2013), and a lower likelihood of having had sexual intercourse (Rogers et al., 2015). Unfortunately, most PCSC does not meet these high-quality standards and instead is characterized as one-sided, awkward, superficial, and parent dominated (Astle et al., 2021;Heller & Johnson, 2010). ...
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As primary influences in children's sexual socialization, parents have the potential to help children develop psychological sexual well-being as they model and discuss sexuality together. Based on social cognitive theory, this study examined the understudied relationship between perceived quality of parent-child sexual communication (PCSC) about sensitive, value, and risk topics and measures of psychological sexual well-being (sexual self-concept and sexual subjectivity) in a sample of 278 U.S. undergraduate college students. Results of a path analysis showed that higher perceived quality of PCSC about sensitive topics (e.g., sexual pleasure, masturbation) was associated with increased sexual self-efficacy, body esteem, sexual assertiveness, and sexual self-esteem. Higher perceived quality of PCSC about values (e.g., monogamy, abstinence) was associated with increased entitlement to partner pleasure and decreased sexual self-efficacy and entitlement to self-pleasure. Perceived quality of PCSC about risk (e.g., sexually transmitted diseases [STDs], condom use) was not significantly associated with any measure of psychological sexual well-being. Findings from this study have important implications for sexual education programs, including informing parent education and the importance of including discussion of psychological sexual well-being in programs.
... Sexual communication could increase the responsibility in making a sexuality-related decision (Wilson & Donenberg , 2004;Rogers et al., 2015;Harris, 2016), forming attitudes, beliefs and making a decision about sexual activities (Clawson & Reese-Weber, 2003;Boyas et al., 2012) in Adolescents. The parents-adolescents sexual communication also significantly contributed to establishing the attitudes, beliefs, and predicted the teenagers' decision-making to involve or avoid sexual activity (Clawson & Reese-Weber, 2003;Boyas et al., 2012). ...
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Implementing sexual communication between parents-adolescent is essential to protect adolescents’ sexual health. This research seeks to determine how parents-adolescents’ sexual communication was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research utilised a descriptive quantitative research method. One hundred sixty-seven parents participated in this study and were recruited through links that WhatsApp and Facebook shared. The parents must have adolescents between 11-19 years old and unmarried. The result revealed that the communication between parents and adolescents was more intense during the pandemic. Moreover, 16% of the time dedicated to it was increased. However, only a small number of parents (11.4%) recorded conducting sexual communication with their teenagers. 88% of respondents reported that the duration their teens spent online had increased, even though 55.6% of them implemented a limit on their internet time. The t-test independent sample result revealed communication differences assessed from gender (0.019) and age (0.025). However, there were no differences in education (0.081) and residential area (0.663). The expectation of this study’s outcome could be expected as a reference for the related government institutions and private organisations to enact an intervention program for parents about the importance of sexual communication for adolescents’ physical and mental health.
... For example, parent-child communication is a protective factor of adolescent sexual behavior and sexual health. In addition, the more effective family monitoring is, the lower the proportion of teenagers with risky sexual behaviors [15,16]. ...
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Sexual adaptation plays an important role in psychosexual health. Our study aimed to investigate the relationship between the family environment and sexual adaptability among adolescents with different personality traits. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Shanghai and Shanxi province. A total of 1106 participants aged 14–19 was surveyed in 2019, including 519 boys and 587 girls. Univariate analyses and mixed regression models were performed to assess the association. Girls had a significantly lower average score of sexual self-adaptation compared to boys (4.01 ± 0.77 vs. 4.32 ± 0.64, p < 0.001). We found that the family environment did not impact boys’ sexual adaptation in different personality groups. For girls in a balanced group, expressiveness factors improved their sexual adaptability (p < 0.05), intellectual–cultural orientation and organization promoted social adaptability (p < 0.05) and active–recreational orientation and control decreased their social adaptability (p < 0.05). In the high-neuroticism group, cohesion facilitated sexual control (p < 0.05), while conflict and organization reduced sexual control ability, and active–recreational orientation decreased sexual adaptation (p < 0.05). No factors associated with the family environment were found to influence sexual adaptability in groups with low neuroticism and high ratings in other personality factors. Compared with boys, girls demonstrated lower sexual self-adaptability, and their overall sexual adaptability was more susceptible to the family environment.
... Having an early premarital sexual relationship was not only approved by some parents' adolescents, but it was also concerned about negative consequences of premarital sex [30,33]. Otherwise, parental positive attitudes toward adolescents' sexual relationships are particularly helpful to those adolescents having less parent-adolescent conflict [93]. Adolescents' parents should gradually provide information about sex education in order for decreasing adolescents' risk-taking of SRH [30,33]. ...
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Background Worldwide, Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) issues comprise a third of health problems for women aged 15–44. SRH education equips people with knowledge of concepts around sexuality and reproduction, and the skills help to make informed decisions to prevent sexual and reproductive ill-health, including unplanned pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of late adolescents relating to SRH, examining their attitudes toward sex and contraception, and to identify the gaps in knowledge pertiaing to decision-making around risk-taking behaviour. Methods A qualitative phenomenological study was undertaken with 30 adolescents aged 18–19, purposively and snowball sampled from a university in Northern Thailand. Data collaction took place from July 2020 to January 2021. In-depth individual interviews were conducted until data saturation was reached. Data were recorded, transcribed, and analysed in ATLAS.ti version 9, using Modified Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to identify pertinent themes. Results Participants revealed five key experiences of SRH related to sex and contraception: Keeping a secret ; Seeking Freedom and Love ; Having SRH education ; Self-protection ; Parental acceptance . All findings reflected the value and impact of SRH on the experiences of late adolescents. Conclusions This study provides detailed knowledge about adolescents’ perspectives of SRH and rights in terms of accessing sexual and reproductive health care and information as well as autonomy in sexual and reproductive decision-making. Gaining SRH education can assist decision-making concerning contraceptive methods for family planning and STI prevention. The study recommends that SRH and rights-based education should be designed responsively and appropriately for female and male adolescents, their families, and society. The content of SRH should be informed and advocated by healthcare providers, educators, policy makers, and systems to empower adolescents in order to achieve effective SRH education.
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Most strategies to reduce adolescent pregnancies have been designed to educate adolescents directly about family planning (FP), while adolescents often cite peers and parents as their primary sources of sexual health information. Yet parents’ lack of knowledge about sexual and reproductive health (SRH), low self-efficacy to initiate conversations, and adverse social norms act as barriers to open intergenerational communication. To better understand the normative environment influencing communication between parents and youth about FP/SRH in francophone West Africa, the USAID supported Breakthrough RESEARCH project conducted a multi-stage qualitative study in Niger. During Stage 1, the research team developed a screening tool (based on a literature review) to categorize research participants into those who practiced open intergenerational communication about FP/SRH, and those who did not. Stage 2 consisted of 40 in-depth interviews with young people (ages 15–24) and adults (≥25 years old), stratified by whether they practiced open intergenerational communication. Results showed restrictive social norms related to youth SRH and access to information and services. However, particularly among participants classified as open-communicators, there is a hierarchy of norms and normative beliefs, with abstinence as the most virtuous decision for youth, but approving communication about and access to SRH services in order to minimize harm. Participants rely on values such as the protection of youth, protection of family honor and promotion of well-being as means to act in counter-normative ways and communicate about FP/SRH. Implications for the field include demystifying and destigmatizing SRH topics, increasing adults’ communication skills, and changing the “script” to a more life-affirming view of SRH.
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Parenting is a critical influence on the development of children across the globe. This handbook brings together scholars with expertise on parenting science and interventions for a comprehensive review of current research. It begins with foundational theories and research topics, followed by sections on parenting children at different ages, factors that affect parenting such as parental mental health or socioeconomic status, and parenting children with different characteristics such as depressed and anxious children or youth who identify as LGBTQ. It concludes with a section on policy implications, as well as prevention and intervention programs that target parenting as a mechanism of change. Global perspectives and the cultural diversity of families are highlighted throughout. Offering in-depth analysis of key topics such as risky adolescent behavior, immigration policy, father engagement, family involvement in education, and balancing childcare and work, this is a vital resource for understanding the most effective policies to support parents in raising healthy children.
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Although there has been considerable research about attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, there has been little research into how people first come to be aware of minoritized sexual and gender minority (SGM) identities. This study sought to address this gap. A sample of sexual minority (n = 150) and heterosexual (n = 802) young adults (N = 952; Mage = 18.88 years, SD = 1.75; 949 were cisgender, three were transgender), primarily recruited from a large southern university, were asked retrospectively to recount their first exposure to or awareness of SGM identities. Responses between SGM and heterosexual participants were compared through a variety of analytical approaches, including analyzing themes about the source from which participants first recalled encountering these identities, and whether understanding about these identities came through a personal connection to someone with these identities. SGM participants reported encountering minoritized sexual identities a year earlier than did heterosexual participants, with both groups encountering these concepts in middle childhood, on average. SGM participants were more likely than heterosexual participants to report learning about minoritized gender identities from someone with a minoritized gender identity, while heterosexual participants more often reported learning about these identities from media or celebrities. Heterosexual (vs. SGM) participants were also more likely to imply that minoritized gender identities were adopted to be popular, rather than being authentic identities in themselves. Framed by developmental intergroup theory (DIT), we discuss implications of these findings, especially potential interrelationships with the development of prejudiced attitudes about SGM identities.
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Purpose: Adolescent depression has become a public health issue in China. Family environment and school life play important roles in shaping adolescent mental health. Our study aimed to examine the effect of parent-adolescent communication, school-life experiences, learning difficulties, and confidence in the future on depressive symptoms. We also examined the mediating effects of school-life experiences, learning difficulties, and confidence in the future on the relationship between parent-adolescent communication and depressive symptoms. Methods: Data on depressive symptoms, parent-adolescent communication, and mediating variables were obtained from the China Education Panel Survey (CEPS), including baseline data (2013-2014) and follow-up data (2014-2015). Mixed-effect models were used to evaluate the effects of parent-adolescent communication, school-life experiences, learning difficulties, and confidence in the future on depressive symptoms, and path analyses were performed to determine the mediating roles of school-life experiences, learning difficulties, and confidence in the future on the relationship between parent-adolescent communication and adolescent depressive symptoms. Results: More father-adolescent communication, better school-life experiences, and higher confidence in the future were protective factors for depressive symptoms among all boys and girls, and learning difficulties were a risk factor for depressive symptoms among all boys and girls. School-life experiences, learning difficulties, and confidence in the future had statistically significant mediating effects on the relationship between parent-adolescent communication and depressive symptoms. Conclusion: More father-adolescent communication, higher confidence in the future, better school-life experiences, and fewer academic difficulties were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms. Both mother-adolescent communication and father-adolescent communication affected depressive symptoms through their effects on school-life experience, learning difficulties, and confidence in the future. This finding highlighted the importance of parent-adolescent communication and its impact on depression.
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Urban minority girls are at considerable risk for the negative health consequences of early sexual activity. Yet few researchers have explored the sources of information about sexual issues for these adolescents, particularly parent-child communication. As part of a larger qualitative study examining social cognitions about sexuality among urban girls, 72 African American and Latina mothers and 72 daughters representing two age groups (6-9 and 10-13) participated in focus group sessions. Both mothers and daughters addressed the cues associated with the timing of these conversations in the course of the daughters’ development; the content of their conversations, including the messages mothers used to influence girls’ decision making; and the approaches or strategies both employed. The authors’ analyses indicate that beneficial communication may be preempted by the antagonistic positions adopted by daughters and mothers as daughters advance sexually. Daughters may in fact benefit more from receiving sex education from other close sources.
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JA. (2000). The relationship between patient-adolescent communication and safer sex behaviors in college students. Journal of Family Nursing, 6(2), 180-196. Abstract: An increased incidence of HIV infection in adolescents has led researchers to examine factors that influence young people's sexual behaviors. One of these factors is parent-adolescent communication about sexuality. In this study, two measurements of this communication were developed and tested through a mailed survey instrument methodology, with a sample of 732 college students. The instruments were found to be psychometrically sound. An exploration of the associations between selected demographic variables, parent-adolescent communication about sexuality, and specific safer sexual behaviors was conducted using a Chi Square Automatic Interaction Detection statistical technique. Overall, the study findings suggest that race, gender, and communication with parents are important factors within the sexual activity of college students. Article: The spread of HIV during the 1990s has presented a worldwide challenge to health care practitioners, researchers, and educators. One group that appears to be at high risk for infection today is youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 1997,1998a), HIV infection within adolescent populations has continued to increase. In 1996, the Office of National AIDS Policy estimated that at least two teenagers per hour, or 8,670 per year, become HIV infected, and this figure is expected to increase markedly through and beyond the year 2000 (Office of National AIDS Policy, 1996). A number of medical experts and researchers have begun to express concern about this next generation, for if HIV becomes widespread among today's teenagers, there is a real danger of losing tomorrow's adults (Stine, 1998).
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Purpose: To examine the relationship between adolescents’ perceptions of maternal abstinence attitudes, adolescent–maternal relationship satisfaction, and the occurrence in the ensuing 12 months of: (a) sexual intercourse, (b) the use of birth control at intercourse, and (c) the occurrence of pregnancy. We also examined the accuracy of adolescents in perceiving the attitudes of their mothers as well as factors that predicted underestimations of these attitudes. Finally, the study evaluated the relative predictive power of adolescent perceptions of maternal abstinence attitudes and the actual maternal abstinence attitudes.
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There is great interest in understanding adolescent sexual behavior because of its links to unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. This study's purpose was to analyze biological and social antecedents of adolescent sexual intentions and behaviors, including age, pubertal development, quality of parent/adolescent communication, and adolescent sexual values. Analyses were based on longitudinal data collected in 1991, 1992, and 1993 from 473 families. Structural equation modeling was used to test direct and indirect effects among the time-ordered variables separately by gender Both for males and females, parent/adolescent communication quality was related positively to adolescent sexual abstinence values, abstinence values had a strong negative effect on sexual intentions, and sexual intentions had a significant positive effect on sexual behaviors. Parent/adolescent communication quality was related directly to sexual intentions measured 1 year later among females only. Early pubertal development, relative to same-age peers, was related directly to sexual behaviors of both genders.
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Relationships of maternal sexual behavior, mother-adolescent communication about sex, and maternal attitudes about adolescent sexuality to adolescent sexual risk-taking behavior were examined in a sample of 397 Black and Hispanic families headed by single mothers. Some support emerged for a positive relationship between maternal sexual risk-taking behavior and adolescent risk-taking behavior; however, when considered in the context of communication about sex and maternal attitudes about adolescent sexuality, the relationship was no longer significant. When the process of sexual communication between a mother and an adolescent was open and receptive, less adolescent risk-taking behavior was reported. The role of single mothers in influencing their adolescents' sexual behavior is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This study examined gender differences in self-reported and observed conversations about sexual issues. Fifty mother –adolescent dyads reported on their conversations about sexual issues and participated in videotaped conversations about dating and sexuality in a laboratory setting. Gender differences (more mother – daughter than mother –son) were found in the extent of sexual communication based on adolescents’ reports, but no gender differences were found based on mothers’ reports, or on observations of conversations. Aspects of laboratory interactions, however, did distinguish mother– daughter and mother – son dyads, and related to self-report measures. Girls’ reported sexuality communication frequency related to behavior in the laboratory setting. During mother – son conversations, one person usually took on the role of questioner, whereas the other did not. In contrast, there was evidence for mutuality of positive emotions for mother – daughter dyads, but not for mother – son dyads.
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This study examined two aspects of sexual communication—process and content—between adolescents and both parents, as well as the relationship between parent–adolescent sexual communication and adolescent sexual risk-taking behavior. The participants were 332 adolescents whose biological parents were married and living together. Adolescents were between 14 and 16 years of age and self-identified as either Black or Hispanic. Correlational analyses indicate that the process and the content of sexual communication are significantly and positively correlated. In addition, both process and content of sexual communication are positively associated across parents. Hierarchical regression analyses indicate that only mothers' sexual communication, both process and content, is related to adolescent risk-taking behavior for both male and female adolescents.
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In this study, we videotaped and coded 71 sexuality-related conversations to examine how the type of questions asked by mothers of Mexican heritage might be related to their adolescents' participation in the conversations. Adolescent participation was measured by how actively adolescents responded to their mothers' questions, maintained eye contact, and displayed negative affect. We found that both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Latina mothers were interested in the adolescents' viewpoints about dating and sexuality, and such questions did not seem to elicit negative affect. Adolescents were likely to respond negatively, however, when their mothers probed their knowledge about dating and sexuality, their personal experiences, and those of their peers. Girls participated more actively than boys in responding to questions about their personal experiences in part because girls were more argumentative. Questions about personal experiences were asked in mostly closed-ended formats, requesting yes–no or other short answers, perhaps because the mothers perceived that their adolescents felt more comfortable responding in this manner. These findings can have important design implications for parent training programs intended to improve home discussions about sexuality.
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To review research examining the influence of "connectedness" on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). Connectedness, or bonding, refers to the emotional attachment and commitment a child makes to social relationships in the family, peer group, school, community, or culture. A systematic review of behavioral research (1985-2007) was conducted. Inclusion criteria included examination of the association between a connectedness sub-construct and an ASRH outcome, use of multivariate analyses, sample size of >or=100, and publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Results were coded as protective, risk, or no association, and as longitudinal, or cross sectional. Findings from at least two longitudinal studies for a given outcome with consistent associations were considered sufficient evidence for a protective or risk association. Eight connectedness sub-constructs were reviewed: family connectedness (90 studies), parent-adolescent general communication (16 studies), parent-adolescent sexuality communication (58 studies), parental monitoring (61 studies), peer connectedness (nine studies), partner connectedness (12 studies), school connectedness (18 studies), and community connectedness (four studies). There was sufficient evidence to support a protective association with ASRH outcomes for family connectedness, general and sexuality-specific parent-adolescent communication, parental monitoring, partner connectedness, and school connectedness. Sufficient evidence of a risk association was identified for the parent overcontrol sub-construct of parental monitoring. Connectedness can be a protective factor for ASRH outcomes, and efforts to strengthen young people's pro-social relationships are a promising target for approaches to promote ASRH. Further study regarding specific sub-constructs as well as their combined influence is needed.