Talking About Family Diversity
Children Learn about Sexuality within a Variety of Family Structures
The love, respect, and communication involved in helping children become healthy adults-including sexually healthy adults-is the result of long-term family nurturing combined with comprehensive education. Such family nurturing comes in many forms, all seeking the same result: to provide loving, caring, and valueoriented guidance to children. While many people agree that parents and caregivers are the primary sexuality educators of their children, extended families can play an important role in sharing values and information, as well as providing support. This issue of Families Are Talking will take a closer look at family diversity to help provide information and assistance for families to communicate about sexuality issues.
Families May Experience Challenges to Communicating about Sexuality
Cultural values and traditions may help or hinder family communication about sexuality-related issues. Economics can also play a role, affecting the time and energy that parents and caregivers have for their children. Parents and caregivers who face these and other challenges that make it difficult to address sexuality issues with their children can:
- Provide young people with pamphlets, books, videos, and other resources that address sexuality-related issues. You can find these materials in libraries, bookstores, community-based organizations, schools, and on the Internet.
- Identify (with your child) trusted adults who can talk with your child about sexuality issues; these might include extended family or trusted neighbors.
- Contact the local school or faith- and community- based organizations to serve as support networks
Reducing Risky Behaviors among Young People of Color
In the United States, African-American and Latino young people are disproportionately affected by HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen pregnancy. While the reasons for this are varied and complex, we know that family structure, cultural values, and socio-economic status are some of the factors that can affect young people's behavior. Several recent studies also suggest that parental involvement and parent-child communication may reduce high-risk behaviors among youth. The research suggests that among African-American youth, the following can reduce risky behaviors:
- Parental monitoring
- Parental support and family problem-solving skills
- Teens having good relationships with their mothers
- Teens feeling a part of (or doing well in) school and having high educational/occupational achievement and/or aspirations
Reprinted with the permission of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. © 2005 SIECUS.
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