Most parents (regardless of individual and household characteristics) want parents of young people to be the primary communicators of sex-related information. This is what more research confirmed among almost all parents interviewed in a Minnesota study. Such findings remain consistent throughout the past two decades—parents want to be the primary educators of their children on the topic of sex.
The article, "Parental Perspectives on Sources of Sex Information for Young People," is available in the January 2011, Journal of Adolescent Health (K.A. Lagus, et al.) online.
The results from more than 1,600 parents in Minnesota found that nearly all parents (97.9%) believe they should be the primary communicators and teachers of sex and sexuality to young people. But less than a quarter of all parents (24.2%) believed kids received information from parents. They also believed that friends and classmates were the primary sources of information (77.7%), along with media sources (60.3%).
"The study underscores discrepancies between where parents think youth should and actually do receive information regarding sex and sexuality," according to the article discussion, which goes on to note, "In a recent study, youth reported actually obtaining most of their sex-related information from friends, teachers, mothers, and media. However, our study indicates that parents think that youth obtain most of their information from friends, classmates, and the media."
The article goes on to emphasize previous research showing that parents actually have the most influence on young people's decisions with respect to sex and delaying the onset of sexual activity. Surprisingly, youth also want parents to be the primary sex educators.
Parents, are you listening?
Regardless of the avoidance techniques often practiced by your teens or children when the topic of sex comes up, you remain the single most important influence in your child's life regarding sexual decisions. Open those doors of communication, and speak up on this issue.
If you don't, something or someone else will, and they probably won't be offering the same sound advice you can provide.