Sexuality communication in the family: A qualitative study with African American mothers and their adolescent daughters
Most information on family communication about sexuality has been derived from surveys and statistical analyses. We lack data on what actually occurs in conversations and how family members make meaning of their communication. Using a phenomenological perspective, the purpose of this study was to create an in-depth description and analysis of communication about sexuality among a sample of mothers and adolescent daughters. Methods included videotaped conversations, follow-up, audiotaped interviews after participants watched their videotapes, and quantitative data from a written questionnaire. A purposive sample was comprised of 30 African American mother-daughter pairs, 15 recruited from a free teen clinic and 15 recruited via advertisement, word of mouth, and participant referral. Qualitative analyses triangulating observational, interview, and questionnaire data suggested five key findings: (1) although most mothers and daughters reported prior experience and comfort talking about sexuality topics, both qualitative and quantitative results suggest that certain topics (e.g., abstinence, reproductive “facts,” and the consequences of sexual activity) were emphasized over other topics (e.g., condom use, choosing sexual partners, and masturbation); (2) differences in communication style (didactic versus interactional) play a role in the perceived effectiveness of the communication; (3) mothers framed sexuality largely as negative—feelings and behaviors to avoid because of the harmful consequences. Positive aspects of being sexual, such as pleasure, were not discussed; (4) perspectives on how male and female sexuality play out in teen relationships revealed conflicting and often adversarial gender role beliefs and illuminated tension between female sexual empowerment and disempowerment; (5) the quality of the relationship—the connection—underlies the “effectiveness” and quality of sexuality communication. Roadblocks to sexuality communication that may contribute to (and be evidence of) disconnection include not listening, anger, making assumptions and judgments, and silence. Facilitators of sexuality communication that may contribute to (and be evidence of) connection include getting an early start, persistence, listening, empathizing, being there and spending time together, managing conflict in nondestructive ways, and treating feelings as real. ^
Black Studies|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Education, Health
Erika Ingrid Pluhar,
"Sexuality communication in the family: A qualitative study with African American mothers and their adolescent daughters"
(January 1, 2001).
Dissertations available from ProQuest.