“Talk More About It”: Emerging Adults’ Attitudes About How and When Parents Should Talk About Sex

Abstract

Sexual communication from parents is crucial to healthy sexual well-being in young people, yet there is a dearth of research offering evidence-based guidelines for how and when parent-child sexual communication should take place. The perspective of youth on what works and when conversations should happen is also largely absent from the literature. We conducted a mixed-methods study on emerging adults’ (N = 441) beliefs about the ideal age and frequency for parents to discuss sex-related topics, and about their parents’ strengths and weaknesses in sexual communication. Most participants reported that parents should talk about sex frequently, early, and on a wide variety of topics. They also recommended parents to be open, honest, and realistic when talking to their children about sex. We discuss implications for how to reposition parents to engage in successful sexual communication, and thus improve sexual health and well-being for young people.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Irissa Cisternino for her assistance with this research.

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Correspondence to Katrina L. Pariera.

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Pariera, K.L., Brody, E. “Talk More About It”: Emerging Adults’ Attitudes About How and When Parents Should Talk About Sex. Sex Res Soc Policy 15, 219–229 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-017-0314-9

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Keywords

  • Sexual communication
  • Self-determination Theory
  • Sexual attitudes
  • Sexuality education
  • Sexual orientation