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Parents and young people find sex difficult to discuss
Irish Examiner 14/11/2007

by Noel Baker

Both parents and young people believe there is more communication between them than in past generations but still believe certain subjects such as sex are still difficult topics to discuss.

The Barnardo's poll shows that 38% of parents and 31% of young people feel their respective relationships with each other are excellent, while 91% of parents cite listening to their children as the most influential factor in creating a positive relationship with their offspring.

Generally, a mere 29% of parents believe Irish parents spend enough time with their children, although personally almost four-in-five parents and children said they spent enough time with each other. Meanwhile, 72% of parents think Irish work patterns impact negatively on children.

Regarding the matter of discussing hard issues, half of all parents had not had a conversation about sex by the time their children were 15 years of age.

The poll also shows parents are more likely to speak with their daughters about sex than their sons (54% vs 46%), while working-class parents are more likely to discuss serious relationships than middle-class parents.

Regarding topics children said they had discussed with their parents, sex had been talked about in 48% of cases, behind alcohol (80%), cigarettes (71%) and drugs (66%).

Barnardo's chief executive Fergus Finlay said: "I do think there is a conflict in parent's heads about the amount of time they should spend and the amount of time they do spend with their kids."

But he added: "Parents who always talk to their kids are less intimidated than parents who suddenly feel the need to talk to their kids when their kids are having problems."

On the theme of communication, fifth in the list of young people's habits is going onto social networking sites such as Bebo and Myspace, while many parents have qualms about monitoring their child's internet use (68%) or text messages on their mobile phones (32%).

As for issues affecting the close friends of young people, bullying is the top concern, followed by parental conflict in the home although almost a third said none of the issues mentioned in the poll were a concern to their friends.