Parent-child sex communication; Sex education; Parenting; Adolescents; Longitudinal


Purpose: Research suggests that parents can be important sources of sex education for their children, but we know little about how this type of communication changes developmentally. Thus, the current study explored longitudinal change in child-, mother-, and father-reports of parent-child communica- tion about sexuality, and how change might be associated with behaviors indicative of sexual risk.

Methods: The sample included 468 adolescents (52% female, 67% white) who participated every year from age 14 to 18, and their mother and father. Results: Growth-curve analyses revealed relatively low and stable levels of parent-child communication from all three reporters, with some differences as a function of reporter and child gender. Results also suggested that initial levels and change in parent-child communication over time were associated with child-reports of safer sex at the final time point (age 21). Conclusions: The discussion focuses on developmental approaches to parent-child sex communication and the need for future research.

Original Publication Citation

Padilla-Walker, L. M. (2018). Longitudinal change in parent-child communication about sexuality. Journal of Adolescent Health, 63, 753-758.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Adolescent Health




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor