Conversaciones entre padres e hijos
Martinez, Lourdes Michele
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This purpose of this study was to understand how Latino parents and adolescents communicate about adolescent sexual health, dating, and prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses. The goals were to identify the characteristics of Latino parent-adolescent communication—expertise, trustworthiness, and accessibility—that may influence communication about romantic relationships and sexual risk reduction strategies (i.e., abstinence, contraception), identify parental messages about health risks, social consequences, and moral consequences that may influence communication about these topics, and to describe the influence of acculturative factors on parental messages about adolescent romantic relationships and sexual health. A mixed-method approach was used. A total of 21 parent-adolescent dyads (N=42) completed a brief demographics survey and a set of scales to obtain quantitative measures related to message domains and parental characteristics that may influence the adolescent’s perception of parental advice. An individual, semi-structured interview was then conducted with each parent, followed by the adolescent. Findings demonstrate that parents talk to their children, but overall conversations are not specific or comprehensive enough to support adolescents’ informed decision-making about sexual health or building positive romantic relationships. Community organizations such as churches, schools, and medical settings can support families by providing brief seminars that not only provide technical information about sexual health, but also allow parents to practice how to initiate communication about sex and how to gauge their child’s receptivity to discuss the topic further. Recommendations include encouraging parents to actively engage their adolescent in shared communication over time, respond to questions openly and accurately, and demonstrate concern in the teen’s life happenings. When parents talk to their children about sex, it builds trust and closeness and reinforces protective behaviors for sexual health.