202695 “Maybe I can talk about sex but when like I'm ready I don't think I can go to her”: Perceptions of mother-daughter communication processes within urban dyads-of-color

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 10:55 AM

Tracy R. Nichols, PhD , Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Donna J. Biederman , Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Danielle D. Durham, MPH , The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, Cary, NC
Mother-daughter communication during adolescence has primarily been studied among White middle-class families. Recent studies have begun to identify differences in mother-daughter communication processes among families-of-color, particularly regarding sexuality. This presentation compares communication strategies described by mothers-of-color with their adolescent daughters' experiences of mother-daughter communication practices. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with working-class mothers-of-color (N=12) and their 11-17 yr-old adolescent daughters (N=15) in New York and North Carolina. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. A dyadic narrative analysis was then conducted. Mothers uniformly endorsed the need for sustained open communication with their daughters, with many believing this was achieved within their relationship. Strategies included: honesty, repetition, humor, story-telling, TV-watching, infusing sensitive topics into daily situations, and using moments that require physical closeness and contact as opportunities to broach difficult subjects and learn information. Daughters varied on the degree to which they reported having open communication with their mothers. Regardless of level of openness expressed by daughters, adolescent girls did not want to discuss issues of sexuality with their mothers. Girls who reported not being sexually active projected that changes in their communication with their mothers would occur once they reached sexual debut. Mothers, however, did not perceive a pending change since they believed their current practices would negate sexual debut for their daughters. Several daughters offered communication strategies they wanted their mothers to use, with the most widely endorsed strategy being the sharing of personal stories. Implications for the development of family-based health promotion strategies will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the presentation participants will be able to (a) discuss mother-daughter communication strategies among urban families-of-color, (b) identify discrepancies between mother and daughter perspectives on sexual communication, and (c) describe how these discrepancies can affect the development of family-based health promotion programs.

Keywords: Communication, Gender

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctorate in developmental psychology and have been conducting research on adolescent health for 20 years
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.