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Parental confidence and preferences for communicating with their child about sexuality

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Parents play an essential role in the development of children's sexuality, yet often feel uncomfortable and anxious about how best to communicate with their children about sexual matters. This study had three main aims: (1) to examine parental views and confidence in relation to communicating with their child about sexuality; (2) to explore predictors of parental self-efficacy in communicating with their child about sexuality; and (3) to assess parental preferences for programme content. Data were collected across Australia by means of an online survey. Parents in the study felt relatively knowledgeable and confident discussing sexuality topics with their child, although they noted that there were topics they would not feel comfortable talking about. The extent to which the parent felt knowledgeable and comfortable in educating their child about sexuality and their use of effective parenting strategies were significantly related to parental confidence. Finally, parents rated all potential parenting intervention topics as being useful, but the most relevant topics were those related to prevention of child sexual abuse and encouraging a positive sense of self and body image. The implications of these findings for intervention design and development and further research are discussed.
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Keywords: Australia; communication; discussing sexuality; parenting; parenting confidence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia 2: Family Planning Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: May 4, 2015

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