Children's Education about Sexuality
One important health-related area in which parents explicitly train children is sexuality (Geasler, Dannison, & Edlund, 1995; Klein & Gordon, 1992; Meschke, Zweig, Barber,& Eccles, 2000; Miller, Forehand, & Kotchick, 1999, 2000). Empirical evidence demonstrates that open, supportive family communication patterns foster positive parent–child relationships and encourages adolescents to internalize the values and mores embedded in their parents' messages (Newcomer & Udry, 1985; Whitaker & Miller, 2000). Many youth report interest in having open discussions with their parents regarding sexuality and HIV (Krauss, 1997). Furthermore, research has illuminated the strong links among family communication about sexuality, parent-child relationship quality, and adolescents' risky behavior (Baldwin & Baranowski, 1990; Forehand & Kotchick, 1996). Studies have consistently documented the role of parent–child communication about sex in adolescents' responsible sexual behavior and deterrence of early sexual activity (Crosby et al., 2000; DiIorio, Kelley, & Hockenberry-Eaton, 1999; Howard & McCabe, 1992; Kotchick, Shaffer, & Forehand, 2001; Murry, 1996; Scott-Jones & Turner, 1990), and more consistent condom use (Kotchik et al., 2001; Whitaker & Miller, 2000).
The timing of parent–adolescent sexual communication appears to be significant. Inner-city African American and Hispanic adolescents whose mothers discussed condom use with them before they became sexually active were three times more likely to use condoms the first time they had sex and three times more likely to use condoms consistently (Miller, Kotchick, Dorsey, Forehand, & Ham, 2001).