Parent-adolescent communication about sexual intercourse: an analysis of maternal reluctance to communicate.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


A unified theory of behavior was applied to parent-adolescent communication about sexual intercourse to understand why some mothers speak less often with their children about not having sexual intercourse. According to the theory, parental decisions or intentions to engage in such conversations are a function of expectancies, social norms, self-concept, emotions, and self-efficacy.


Data were collected from a random sample of 668 mother-adolescent dyads recruited from middle schools located in the Bronx community of New York City. Data were collected via self-administered surveys.

Main outcome measures

Mother and adolescent reports on the frequency of parent-adolescent communication about sexual intercourse were obtained. Adolescents and mothers reported how often the mother had discussed 21 topics related to sexual behavior.

Results and conclusion

Results supported the utility of the framework for understanding parent-adolescent communication about sexual intercourse. Significant maternal correlates included (a) expectancies about lacking knowledge, being embarrassed and encouraging children to think maturely and focus on school; (b) self-concept and perceiving that mothers who didn't talk with their children about sex were irresponsible; (c) emotions about feeling relaxed and comfortable; and (d) self-efficacy about the ease of talking with one's child. Implications for family based prevention programs are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Guilamo-Ramos, V; Jaccard, J; Dittus, P; Collins, S

Published Date

  • November 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 760 - 769

PubMed ID

  • 19025272

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1930-7810

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0278-6133

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0013833


  • eng