Parents Talking About the Birds and the Bees With Their Elementary School Aged Children: A Naturalistic Study
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This dissertation presents three separate studies exploring parents’ perceptions and recommendations for communicating with their third, fourth, and fifth grade children about human sexuality. First, a systematic literature review is presented summarizing past qualitative studies completed in the United States focusing on parents with children aged 18 years and under. This review summarizes (1) demographic information of parents from past studies, (2) perceived communication barriers experienced by parents regarding sexuality communication, and (3) perceived communication facilitators experienced by parents regarding sexuality communication. Second, noting the lack of research within a specific population of parents in the United States, a naturalistic study of parents with children in the third, fourth, and fifth grade is presented. Utilizing an emergent design, one-on-one interviews were conducted with 20 parents living in a town in central Texas. By coding collected data, a thematic analysis was used to summarize emergent themes. Themes included techniques parents utilized to have parent-child conversations about sexuality and discussed topics. Although different techniques and topics were raised, parents showed overall inconsistency in experiences or past discussions. Third, using data from the same 20 interviews, themes emerged from parents regarding recommendations. These included the recommendations that a booklet with age appropriate information on sexuality topics be developed for parents and parent workshops or classes covering age appropriate sexuality knowledge as well as techniques to use in parent-child communication be offered. Schools were the recommended source for these resources. Parents also shared feedback on the newly released National Sexuality Education Standards. Comparing past parent-child conversations on sexuality topics to the NSES, certain topics were discussed yet inconsistency was shown. In addition, parents disagreed on specific standards including those pertaining to the functions of reproductive parts, reproduction, and same sex orientation. Implications of this study are that parental resources are needed to help parents communicate with their children about sexuality beginning at a young age. And, for those resources already existing, including workshops, books, and on-line sources, parents need to be made aware of their existence. In addition, future research is needed to explore if younger children are learning from parent-child conversations about sexuality.
Elementary School Children
Anatomy & Physiology
Reichel, Lori (2013). Parents Talking About the Birds and the Bees With Their Elementary School Aged Children: A Naturalistic Study. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from