The (Sex) Talk: Once Won't Cut It

A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed that ongoing communication about sex between parents and children leads to:

  • improved parent-child relationships

  • safer sexual activity at age 21

When discussing sex, parents often try to “get it done” in a single, one-sided conversation. Instead, parent’s should engage in a back-and-forth, continuous, developmentally appropriate dialogue.

In order to study sexual communication in families, researchers from Brigham Young University contacted families with children age 14 to 18 to assess parent-child sexual communications. Greater communication was associated with better parent-child relationship and safer sexual activities later in life.

However, most respondents reported low levels of sexual communication, with teens reporting even lower levels than their parents. This finding suggests that even if parents feel like they are doing an adequate job with sexual communication, increasing the frequency of conversations could be beneficial.

How does a parent talk to their child in a developmentally appropriate manner about sex, while also maintaining appropriate boundaries? That is easier said than done.