When prompted, fathers will talk with their kids about delaying sexual activity

August 31, 2012 by Stephanie Stephens
When prompted, fathers will talk with their kids about delaying sexual activity

Although mothers are usually the ones who have "the birds and the bees" talks with their children, with targeted prompting and guidance, fathers will also step up to the plate. That's the finding of a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion that analyzed mothers' and fathers' responses to a public health campaign about the benefits of having parent-child talks about delaying sexual activity. 

"Our findings show that fathers can increase communication frequency on a potentially awkward topic. Then, as their children age and even more important and sensitive topics come up, these fathers will have developed the kind of relationship with their children that can help conversation flow more smoothly," lead study author Jonathan Blitstein, Ph.D., a research psychologist at RTI International, an independent, not-for-profit research institute in North Carolina.

The 18-month study utilized data from the Parents Speak Up National Campaign (PSUNC). Results show that fathers of pre-adolescent and exposed to a multi-media campaign increased their communication efforts compared to the control group.  Mothers exposed to the same campaign did not increase their communication significantly, perhaps because they were already engaging in these discussions.

Engaging in these talks has critical implications the authors wrote, since previous studies show such conversations can also influence other positive, healthier sexual behaviors such as more use of contraceptives—including condoms—and having fewer sexual partners.

"Parental emotional bonds with children, parental monitoring of and parental communication about sex are all linked with better sexual among youth," said Aubrey Spriggs Madkour, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of global community health and behavioral sciences at the Tulane University School of Public Health and .

"Public service announcements or PSAs can reach fathers 'where they are,' and hold great promise for engaging them in these important discussions with their children," she said.

Madkour noted that the present study was conducted under more tightly controlled conditions than may be expected in a public rollout of a PSA.  For example, campaign materials were sent directly to parents, who also received prompts to watch them.

"As a next step in the research, researchers will need to demonstrate that in real world conditions, where parents may or may not see or dedicate their attention to the PSAs, the effects of the campaign are also positive," Madkour said.

Study findings may open the door for effective communication around other risky behaviors, noted Blitstein. "It's a great opportunity for to get more involved. So why don't they? We don't really have that answer, but we shouldn't feed the belief that mothers have sole responsibility."

Explore further: Study examines how parenthood affects gay couples' health, HIV risk

More information: Jonathan L. Blitstein, et al. Repeated Exposure to Media Messages Encouraging Parent-Child Communication About Sex: Differential Trajectories for Mothers and Fathers. American Journal of Health Promotion. September/October 2012, Vol. 27, No. 1 43.

Related Stories

Study examines how parenthood affects gay couples' health, HIV risk

June 27, 2012
Gay parents face many of the same challenges as straight parents when it comes to sex and intimacy after having children, according to a new study of gay fathers published in the journal Couple and Family Psychology. The ...

Recommended for you

When male voles drink alcohol, but their partner doesn't, their relationship suffers

November 17, 2017
A study of the effect of alcohol on long-term relationships finds that when a male prairie vole has access to alcohol, but his female partner doesn't, the relationship suffers - similar to what has been observed in human ...

Risk of distracted driving predicted by age, gender, personality and driving frequency

November 17, 2017
New research identifies age, gender, personality and how often people drive as potential risk factors for becoming distracted while driving. Young men, extroverted or neurotic people, and people who drive more often were ...

Spanking linked to increase in children's behavior problems

November 16, 2017
Children who have been spanked by their parents by age 5 show an increase in behavior problems at age 6 and age 8 relative to children who have never been spanked, according to new findings in Psychological Science, a journal ...

Generous people give in a heartbeat—new study

November 15, 2017
Altruistic people are said to be "kind hearted" - and new research published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that generous people really are more in touch with their own hearts.

Teenage depression linked to father's depression

November 15, 2017
Adolescents whose fathers have depressive symptoms are more likely to experience symptoms of depression themselves, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

How emotions influence our internal clock

November 15, 2017
Human beings have an internal clock that enables the subconscious perception and estimation of time periods. A research team under Dr. Roland Thomaschke of the University of Freiburg's Department of Psychology has showed ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.