Understanding fathers' views on sons' sexual preparedness and condom use

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The purpose of this study was to delve deeper into the link between fathers' perceptions of their adolescent sons' preparedness to engage in sexual intercourse, and how likely they were to provide their sons with guidance on using condoms correctly and consistently. Researchers recruited 191 father-son pairs from among Black and Latino residents of the South Bronx in New York City; adolescent participants ranged in age from 15 to 19 years old. Using a sequential mixed-methods explanatory design, all participants completed a confidential survey, after which a random subset of the fathers engaged in two audio-recorded conversations with a 'father coach.' Both the survey and conversations were offered in participants' choice of either English or Spanish. Of note, more than one in three fathers who thought their son already had sex also assessed their sons as "not yet ready to have sex."

What we know: Parent-adolescent conversations regarding sexual activity and condom use have important benefits for protecting adolescent sexual health, including conversations between fathers and adolescent sons. However, barriers for fathers to initiate these conversations have been documented. In addition, factors that generally influence a parent's initiation of these conversations, such as adolescent age and the parent's perception of whether or not their child is already engaging in sexual activity, remain insufficiently understood for fathers specifically.

What this study adds: Currently, published research lacks data about how fathers assess their sons' readiness for a discussion about sexual activity and correct and consistent condom use. The current research identified three influential factors, including (1) the completion of milestones related to the teens' life opportunity trajectories; (2) cognitive-social-emotional maturity; and (3) preparedness to have sex safely and avoid negative health and social consequences. These themes emerged as salient for Latino and Black fathers of varying ages. On the basis of these findings, this study provides practical suggestions for engaging fathers in primary care to promote adolescent male correct and consistent condom use.

Journal reference:

Guilamo-Ramos, V., et al. (2024) Paternal Perspectives on Latino and Black Sons’ Readiness for Sex and Condom Guidance: A Mixed Methods Study. The Annals of Family Medicine. doi.org/10.1370/afm.3077.


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