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Parent-Child Communication about Sex
Ju Hee Yeo
Parent-Child Communication About Sex
AACAP reported that “Each year about one million teenage girls unintentionally become pregnant in the United States and three million teens get a sexually transmitted disease”. However, young people especially teenagers seek their friends and other acquaintances’ advices in times of difficulties and problems instead of their parents or family because parents and their children avoid to talk about sexuality. In addition, both parents and children trivialize how much sexual communication can greatly influence children’s acts and beliefs through parent-child communications. To overcome these major problems, it is important to know how children who have sexual communications with their parents are different from other children who don’t with their parents, and to analyze the different factors that influence the parent-child communication. Through this, identifying the barriers to communication, as we
ll as recognizing the areas will be able to maximize in aiding an effective communication between parent and child. Many times, children and adolescents seek information about sex from their peers, the media, and the internet; these make them more likely to be exposed to inaccurate and inappropriate information about sex comparing to past generations (AACAP, 2005). Besides, children especially guys get a peer pressure from their peers, and they get easily confused what is right and wrong. To prevent these phenomena, it is essential that parents give information about sexuality to guide their children in an appropriate way and to help them make right decisions regarding sexual behaviors. Actually there are some proofs in both cross-sectional and prospective studies that communications between parents and children delayed sexuality, enhanced safer sexual behaviors and birth controls --- preventing pregnancy, STD, and HIV/AIDS, established individual values and made healthy decisions (Blake et al, 2010). On the other hand, young pe
ple who reported feeling a lack of parental warmth, caring, or sexual communication were also more lik
ely to report s
behaviors (Lagina, 2002). Thus, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and feelings about sex are im
ant issues to be dis
t Sex th
roughout the Ages
Parents are responsible how to appropriately ap
proach their children to communicate
about sexual activity. Children have different levels of curiosity
upon their age and level of maturity, so it is imp
ortant to find out appropriate words they know and are comfortable in order to effectively communicate (
ACAP, 2005). A 5-year-old may be happy with the si
mple answer that babies co
from a seed c
ombined by dad’s seed that grows in a special place inside the mother”(AACAP, 2005). An 8-year-old may want to know how dad's seed gets to mom's seed. An 11-year-old may want to know even more and parents can help by talking about how a man and woman fall in love and then may decide to have sex; for paren
ts, it is the hardest topic to talk about due to being embarrassed and uncomfortable (AACAP, 2005). Especially, initiating sexual activity, adolescents may need some help dealing with the intensity of their own sexual feelings, confusion regarding their sexual identity, and sexual behavior in a relationship. Helping children understand that these are decisions that require maturity and responsibility will increase the chance that they make good choices.
Factors that influence on communications
The positive effects of parent-child communications appear to be mediated by several critical factors:
First, since the parents should be a primary source, the educational background of the parent is essential in discussing important issues such as pre-marital sex, academic problems, and others (Manalo, 2010). If the parents have a higher level of educational background, it would be easier for them to understand new information regarding the topic and communicate it well to their own children.
Second, the family structure of the child is also an important factor; a single mother or father family structure influences her or his child’s sexuality quite differently comparing to two parents family structure. During puberty, a child hesitates and feels awkward to ask questions such as about his or her body growth and sex to a different gender parent (Manalo, 2010). Most of time, children who live with both parents together tend to postpone sexual activity and less likely to access sexual risk behaviors.
Third, age difference between parent and child can also affect teenager’s sexual activity differently (Manalo, 2010). If there is too much generation gap, children may become irritated with his parents and less likely communicate with their parents about their wants and needs because they thinks that they would not understand anyway.
Fourth, parental knowledge, beliefs and comfort with the subject matter is one of huge factors. In order to guide children appropriately, parents should also have appropriate knowledge and beliefs about sexuality with some comfort with that subject. If parents feel having a lack of knowledge about sexuality information, attending to the programs is one of good ways to gain some confidence about it.
Fifth, the content and timing of communications --- whether they take place before the young person initiates sexual activity --- impact the initial time of sexuality and sexual risk behaviors. If parents logically tell their children the importance of virginity before their marriages before they initiate sexual activity, they tend to delay their sexual activity because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. In addition, the topics of conversation are crucial such as contraception, preventing STD, etc; young people attempt to stick to what their parents emphasize on.
Sixth, parenting style, including parental monitoring, supervision or coercion, also bring different consequences. If parents keep monitoring and supervising children’s behaviors at school and at home through their concerns, they less likely fall into sexual risk behaviors. However, strictly forcing children too much in the subject of sex can cause a side effect.
Not only from the six factors mediate the parent-child communications, but also the frequency and specificity of communications, general parent-child communication patterns, informally and openly communicating with their children with comfortable atmosphere encourage them to talk and ask questions instead talking in one way, attempting to determine your child's level of knowledge and understanding, emphasizing on the importance of responsibility for choices and decisions, helping your child to consider the pros and cons of choices, and other factors influence them (Blake et al, 2010) . Keeping these several factors
must help enhance communication skills between parents and children and prevent future problems in communication. By developing open, honest and ongoing communication about responsibility and choice of sex, parents can help their youngsters learn about sex in a healthy and positive manner. We also should not forget that communication is two-way instead of one-way, and both parent and child should learn to understand each other to keep the
communication lines open and effective.
Michael McGee (2008).
Talking With Kids Openly and Honestly About Sexuality. Retrieved from
Rebecca Ledsky, Cheryl Perkins, Joseph MbCalabrese (2001, May). Effects of a Parent-child Communications Intervention on Young Adolescents' Risk for Early onset of Sexual Intercourse. Retrieved from
Talking To Your Kids About Sex. Retrieved from
Paul Manalo (2010, August 18) Factors that Influence Parent-child Communications. Retrieved from
Nicholas Lagina (2002)
Parent-Child Communication: Promoting Sexually Healthy Youth
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