Parent-Child Communication: Promoting Sexually Healthy Youth
When young people feel unconnected to home, family, and school, they may become involved in activities that put their health at risk. However, when parents affirm the value of their children, young people more often develop positive, healthy attitudes about themselves. Although most adults want youth to know about abstinence, contraception, and how to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), parents often have difficulty communicating about sex. Nevertheless, positive communication between parents and children helps young people to establish individual values and make sexually healthy decisions.
Parent-Child Warmth and Communication Promote Health and Achievement.
- A major study showed that adolescents who reported feeling connected to parents and family were more likely than other teens to delay initiating sexual intercourse. Teens who said their families were warm and caring also reported less marijuana use and less emotional distress than their peers.(1)
- Teens whose parents are warm and firm and grant them psychological autonomy achieve more in school, report less depression and anxiety, and score higher on measures of self-reliance and self-esteem than teens whose parents fail to demonstrate these elements.(2)
- African American teens are more likely to use discussion, self-affirmation, and disproving strategies to counter stereotypes and racism and to have higher self-esteem when their parents have discussed both achievement and discrimination with them than when parents ignore issues related to discrimination and racism.(3)
- In one study, Native American youth who reported that their families cared about and understood them had better emotional and physical health and resiliency than peers reporting less family closeness.(4)
- Sexually experienced African American female teens living with their mothers in a perceived supportive family were 50 percent less likely than teens in non-supportive families to report unprotected sex in the past 30 days and to report sex with a non-steady partner in the past six months.(5)
Reprinted with the permission of Advocates for Youth.
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