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Monday, March 03, 2008

Talking Parents (About Sex), Leads To Healthy Teens!

Recent study conducted by a group of scientists and supported by National Institute of Mental Health and Centers for Disease Control, suggests that speaking to children regularly about sex may keep them from involving in risky sexual behaviors.
The study
included 312 teens and their parents. All participants were given baseline questionnaire and the teens were assured that their parents would not see their answers. The parents were then divided into two groups. Half of the parents were sent home without giving any further instructions. The other half attended an eight-week worksite-based parenting intervention class called "Talking Parents, Healthy Teens," designed to ease parent teen communication in difficult subject matters like sex.

There were Follow-up surveys conducted at intervals of one week, three months and nine months. The surveys assessed 22 sex-related topics, such as "how you will make decisions about whether to have sex,", "consequences of [getting pregnant/getting someone pregnant],""how to choose a method of birth control," "what it feels like to have sex," "how well condoms can prevent sexually transmitted diseases," and "how to say no if someone wants to have sex and you don't want to" and more.

At each follow-up survey, adolescents were presented with the same list of 22 topics and asked to report whether they had discussed each topic with their mother or father since the last survey. This helped researchers to assess how the parent teen communications were conducted.

They found that when teens and their parents had more conversations, often, teens reported feeling closer to their parents. This made them feel that they could talk more openly with their parents about sex or any other topic for that matter. A greater breadth of communication was associated with a perceived ease of discussing sex between parent and child, according to the study. But opening up and communicating closely with your children may also give you similar results. I had two good friends, infact they were my best friends, my parents. (I never got anyone pregnant, nor got infected with any sexually transmitted diseases. Basically I am a happy individual and I owe a lot to my parents for that.

Following is ths abstract of the study and the complete paper could be read at the pediatrics, a link to which is provided at the end of this article.


OBJECTIVE. Most studies of parent-adolescent communication about sexuality focus on the frequency of communication without distinguishing between the breadth of topics covered and repetition. The goal of this study was to assess the independent influence of breadth and repetition of sexual discussion on adolescents' perceptions of their relationship and communication with their parents.

METHODS. Data came from 312 adolescents who, along with their parents, were control participants in a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate a worksite-based intervention designed to improve parent-adolescent sexual communication. Adolescents completed surveys before the intervention (time 1) and at 1 week, 3 months, and 9 months after the intervention (times 2, 3, and 4, respectively). At each survey, adolescents reported whether they had discussed each of 22 sex-related topics with their parent. Breadth was defined as the number of topics discussed for the first time between times 1 and 4, and repetition was defined as the number of previously discussed topics repeated during that period.

RESULTS. Adolescents whose sexual communication with their parents involved more repetition felt closer to their parents, felt more able to communicate with their parents in general and about sex specifically, and perceived that discussions with their parents about sex occurred with greater openness than did adolescents whose sexual communication with their parents included less repetition. Breadth of communication was associated only with the perceived ease of parent-adolescent sexual communication: adolescents who discussed more new topics with their parents between times 1 and 4 felt that their sexual discussions occurred with greater openness than did adolescents who discussed fewer topics.

CONCLUSIONS. Clinicians may want to advise parents about the value of discussing sexual topics repeatedly with their children, because this may provide parents an opportunity to reinforce and build on what they have taught their children and provide children the opportunity to ask clarifying questions as they attempt to put their parents' sexual education into practice.
Pediatrics paper on Beyond the "Big Talk": The Roles of Breadth and Repetition in Parent-Adolescent Communication About Sexual Topics.
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