Abstract: Talking to Daddy's Little Girl About Sex: Daughters' Reports of Sexual Communication and Support from Fathers (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

105P Talking to Daddy's Little Girl About Sex: Daughters' Reports of Sexual Communication and Support from Fathers

Saturday, January 16, 2010
* noted as presenting author
M. Katherine Hutchinson, PhD, FAAN , New York University, Associate Professor, New York, NY
Julie Cederbaum, MSW, MPH, PhD , University of Southern California, Assistant Professor, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Although mothers are widely acknowledged as the primary in-home sexual educators of children, fathers too play an important role in sexual socialization. Paternal involvement is linked to positive social and psychological outcomes. Further, increased communication between fathers and daughters increases relationship satisfaction which in turn can delay sexual debut and decrease frequency of engagement in intercourse. As father's role may be qualitatively distinct from that of the mother and not be adequately captured in studies of parent-teen sexual communication that quantify informational exchange on specific sexual or sexual-risk-related topics, this qualitative analysis sought to better understand the actual and potential contributions that fathers make in their daughters' sexual socialization, from the perspective of late-adolescent daughters.

Methods: The qualitative data are culled from the responses to four open-ended questions which were part of a larger quantitative study of 234 late adolescent women, ages 19 to 21 years. The larger study focused on individual, dyad and family influences of sexual risk perceptions and behaviors among young heterosexual women. Data were collected during structured telephone interviews and included young women's responses to forced-choice and open-ended questions in the areas of demographics, parent-teen sexual communication, comfort with parent-teen sexual communication, condom use self-efficacy, attitudes toward condoms, perceptions of sexual risk, partner and relationship characteristics, and sexual risk behaviors and sexual protective strategies. Thematic content analysis was utilized to analyze data.

Results: Three major themes emerged from the qualitative data: (1) How fathers contributed to daughters' sexual socialization; (2) The contribution fathers could have made to daughters' sexual socialization; and (3) barriers to father-daughter sexual risk communication. Most daughters received little information from fathers but identified unique contributions that fathers could have made to their sexual socialization including: understanding men, ways to deal with sexual pressure, sharing their own experiences about dating and sex, communicating values and expectations, providing more information on specific topics, and being more open and comfortable with communication.

Conclusion: While daughters reported wide variations in how much their fathers discussed sexuality with them, all but a few identified ways in which fathers could have made significant contributions to their sexual socialization that would have benefited them; most reported that they wished their fathers had done more. Thus, from daughters' perspectives, there are ways in which fathers can contribute to their adolescent girls' sexual socialization and there are benefits that can be reaped from promoting this aspect of the fathering role.[ However, there are a number of barriers that may inhibit fathers from fully enacting their sexual socialization role with daughters. These include gender norms, religious beliefs, fears regarding incestual taboos, and a lack of recognition of their daughters as sexual individuals. Social service providers and parenting workshops should: a) acknowledge this potentially important role, b) provide fathers with information and knowledge about parent-child sexual communication and sexual socialization, c) identify potential barriers to sexual socialization and communication with their children, and d) support fathers in developing skills, self-efficacy and comfort in this area of parenting.