A Decade of Parent-Child Sex Communication: A Systematic Review, 2003-2013
Repository Posting Date2016-03-17T13:02:28Z
Author DetailsDalmacio Dennis Flores, ACRN; Julie Barroso, ANP-BC, RN, FAAN
Lead Author Sigma AffliationBeta Epsilon
Keywordssex communication; parent-child; adolescent sexual health; Sex Education; Parent-Child Relations; Reproductive Health--In Adolescence; Sexual Health; Communication
Session presented on Sunday, July 26, 2015: Purpose: Conversations between parents and children about sex can result in the transmission of family expectations, societal values, and role modeling of sexual health risk reduction strategies. Parent-child sex communication's (PCSC) potential to curb negative sexual health outcomes has sustained a multidisciplinary effort to better understand the process and its impact on the development of healthy sexual attitudes and behaviors among adolescents. Studies that include novel theoretical and empirical findings have been published recently and now require critical analysis and synthesis. The purpose of this review is to advance what is known about PCSC by summarizing descriptive studies and appraising literature published from 2003 to 2013. Methods: Using Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO and Pubmed, the key-terms 'parent child' AND 'sex education' were entered for initial query; 130 original articles were included for analysis. Study findings were abstracted into a matrix to determine the content, process, and predictors of PCSC, including its effects on adolescents. Results: Parent and child gender, race, parental education, prior communication from their own parents, and embarrassment continue to determine the process and content of sex conversations in the home. Mothers talk more to their children about sex than fathers and parents are more inclined to talk about sex only after physical and behavioral changes in their children have been observed. Messages for sons are seen as more permissive about sex while daughters receive more restrictive instructions. Parents report a sense of responsibility to educate their children about sex, yet worry that PCSC may imply parental permission. Children want more discussions about emotions and how to deal with the opposite sex, yet mostly receive instructions on delaying sex. African American and Latino/Hispanic parent-child dyads report more ease with PCSC, while Asian American children report receiving the least amount of PCSC. There is discrepancy in parent and child reports about PCSC frequency and quality. Conclusion: Findings confirm that variability in how PCSC occurs may be lost opportunities in helping children transition into young adults with normative sexual needs. Understanding PCSC typologies based on familial intricacies may assist with formulating ways to facilitate these discussions. Areas for future research will be discussed.