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Demographic and Psychological Predictors of Parent–Adolescent Communication About Sex: A Representative Statewide Analysis


Sexual communication is a principal means of transmitting sexual values, beliefs, expectations, and knowledge between parents and children. Although this area has received considerable research attention, more studies with representative samples are needed to assure that findings are reflective of populations of interest. A representative statewide sample of households with adolescents (N = 907) from a large and diverse state in the United States was employed to examine the content and extent of sexual communication between parents and their adolescents, and the influence of selected primary demographic (age and gender), socio-demographic (Hispanic ethnicity, education, and religious attendance), and psychological (self-reported comfort, knowledge, and sexual communication difficulties) factors on the number of topics discussed. More than two-thirds of the parents reported experiencing some type of sexual communication difficulty, such as developmental concerns and embarrassment. Hierarchical regression results indicated that self-reported comfort, knowledge, and sexual communication difficulties strongly predicted the number of topics discussed, beyond the effect of demographic variables. These findings reinforce the notion that sexual communication between parents and adolescents can be universally challenging, and parents of both genders, all ages, and all socio-demographic characteristics might benefit from education and support.

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