“The child can remember your voice”: parent–child communication about sexuality in the South African context
There is a wealth of research on parent–child communication about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and its influence on young people’s sexual behaviours. However, most of it is from the global North. The aim of this study was to explore parent–child communication in three South African provinces: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Mpumalanga. Nine, peer, focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with young and adult black African men and women in their spoken languages. Data were analysed thematically. Findings revealed that cultural and religious constructions of taboo silenced direct communication and restricted the discussed topics. Parents’ older age, low educational level, lack of knowledge, and discomfort in talking about sexuality matters were reported to restrict conversations with children about sex and sexuality. The influence of these factors differed for parents residing in an urban setting who were more liberal than their counterparts residing in more rural areas. The child’s age and gender were also reported to be a consideration in approaching these conversations. There is a need for interventions to assist parents on how to communicate with their children about SRHR topics beyond pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. These interventions should take into account and address factors that seem to influence parent–child communication.
Keywords: culture, HIV/AIDS, religion, pregnancy, qualitative, sexual risky behaviours, SRHR