203980 Mother's and father's perspectives on talking to teens about healthy relationships

Monday, November 9, 2009: 4:30 PM

Aletha Akers, MD, MPH , Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Magee-Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael Yonas, DrPH , School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Jessica Burke, PhD, MHS , Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Judy C. Chang, MD, MPH , Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
BACKGROUND: Literature on parent-adolescent communication about sex focuses on pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections prevention. Few studies explore family communication about healthy relationships. OBJECTIVES: To examine how parents discuss healthy relationships, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. METHODS: Between December 2007 and March 2008, we conducted 10 gender stratified focus groups with African American parents from Allegheny County Pennsylvania. Groups examined the process and content of parent-adolescent communication about sex. We used a grounded theory approach to content analysis. Themes related to healthy relationships, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence arose inductively. RESULTS: Fifty-three families (53 mothers, 17 fathers) participated. A family history of child sexual abuse, often mother's personal experiences with violence, motivated discussions. Mothers primarily talk with their children while fathers role model appropriate behaviour with females for their sons and try to relate a sense of security and love to their daughters. Fathers hope this will prevent daughters from seeking emotional support from men outside the home. Parents expressed different concerns about sons versus daughter's sexual development. Parents want to prevent daughters from experiencing sexual abuse or emotional manipulation. Parents worry about daughters maintaining a sense of empowerment, self-esteem, and self respect in romantic relationships. Regarding sons, parents focused on instilling a sense of responsibility to and respect for romantic partners. CONCLUSIONS: Parents prioritized and expressed the need for tools to influence their children's socialization as romantic partners. Mothers and fathers approach this process differently. Family focused interventions to prevent unhealthy relationships can build on parent's efforts.

Learning Objectives:
- Describe the content of parental communication about healthy relationships, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. - Describe parentís expectations of their sons and daughters behaviours and emotional stability in romantic relationships. - Compare roles mothers and fathers play in teaching their sons and daughters about healthy relationships. - Describe how parents influence their childrenís socialization as romantic partners.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Sexuality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences who serves as a clinician investigator in our department. Since completing research training as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and a master's degree in public health at the University of North Carolin in Chapel Hill, Ihave been conducting health services research in women's health for the past 8 years. I currently am finishing a K08 exploring issues of patient-provider communication regarding intimate partner violence during obstetrics visits. I have conducted research using both quantitative and qualitative methodology.
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.