Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Child and Family Studies

Committee Chair

Claire Kimberly

Committee Chair Department

Child and Family Studies

Committee Member 2

Amanda L. Williams

Committee Member 2 Department

Child and Family Studies

Committee Member 3

Angel Herring

Committee Member 3 Department

Child and Family Studies


The research on relationships between parent-child communication about sexuality and sexual communication between adult partners is currently lacking. The current study aims to examine the influence of parent-child sexual communication on adult sexual communication when those children reach adulthood and engage in romantic relationships. Parent-child sexual communication, attachment styles, sexual attitudes, and partner sexual communication were examined for influence on the physical and emotional relationship satisfaction of emerging adults. Study 1 included a quantitative analysis with 553 emerging adults participating in an online survey, and study 2 incorporated a qualitative analysis with an additional 7 emerging adults participating in online focus groups. Attachment styles were not found to influence parent-child communication or relationship satisfaction. Permissive sexual attitudes demonstrated a positive influence on relationship satisfaction, as did increased sexual communication between partners. Increased partner sexual communication was associated with sexual relationships that included less emotional attachments. Both studies revealed a general lack of parent-child communication about sex, with the majority of participants reporting minimal or no conversations about sexuality with their parents. Results from study 2 demonstrated a weak connection between parent-child sexual communication and partner sexual communication. Implications for parent-child communication about sexuality are discussed.