Sex Roles

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 278–291

Gender Differences in the ABC’s of the Birds and the Bees: What Mothers Teach Young Children About Sexuality and Reproduction

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11199-009-9731-4

Cite this article as:
Martin, K.A. & Luke, K. Sex Roles (2010) 62: 278. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9731-4


Sexuality education is heavily gendered at adolescence. This study uses data from a national web survey of 631 U.S. mothers of 3 to 6 year old children to test whether similar gender differences exist in what mothers teach their young children about sexuality and reproduction. We test (a) whether mothers will report talking more with daughters or sons about sexuality related issues, and (b) whether mothers will report greater comfort talking about such issues with daughters or sons. We find (a) that mothers talk more to daughters than sons about romantic relationships, reproductive bodies, and morality, but not about sexual abuse or intercourse/pleasure. We find (b) mixed results regarding mothers’ comfort in talking with daughters or sons about sexuality.


Sexual socialization Parent-child communication about sexuality Gender differences Young children Sexuality and reproduction 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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