• Parent child sexual communication;
  • African American male adolescents;
  • sexual risk behaviors



This study examined the influence of parental marital status, parent-child sexual communication, parent-child closeness on the HIV-related knowledge, safer-sex intentions, and behaviors of late adolescent urban African American males.


The study employed a cross-sectional design with retrospective recall of salient parental influences and behaviors.


Data were collected via paper-and-pencil questionnaire from 134 late adolescent African American males, 18 to 22 years of age, recruited from urban communities in and around Boston, Massachusetts. Data were analyzed using bivariate correlations, paired t tests, and regression modeling.


Young men reported greater amounts of sexual communication with mothers than fathers (p < .001). Parent-child closeness was positively correlated with amount of parent-child sexual communication with both mothers and fathers (p < .001 for both). Parent-child closeness was, in turn, associated with greater condom use self-efficacy (p < .01), less permissive sexual attitudes (p < .001), fewer sexual partners (p < .01), and less unprotected sex (p < .01). Greater amounts of parent-child sexual communication were associated with fewer sexual risk behaviors, more consistent condom use, and greater intentions to use condoms in the future. There was evidence that parental influences on sexual risk behaviors and condom use intentions were mediated through young men's condom use self-efficacy, attitudes, and beliefs.


These findings highlight the importance of the parent-child relationship and the role of parent-child communication between parents and sons. Further studies are needed to better understand the nature of father-son communication and develop strategies to help parents communicate effectively with sons.

Clinical Relevance

Evidence has shown that African American adolescent males are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. Understanding the sexual risk communication between African American adolescent males and their parents is important to developing strategies in reducing sexual risk behavior.