Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Shelley L. Knudsen Lindauer


Shelley L. Knudsen Lindauer


This study examined the responses to a sexuality education questionnaire completed by 30 single mothers and 43 married mothers with preschool-aged children. Chi-square analyses were used to examine differences between married mothers and single mothers; mothers of males and mothers of females; and married mothers of males, married mothers of females, single mothers of males and single mothers of females. Age at which their preschool children first exhibited behaviors, frequency of that behavior, and comfort level of mothers' responses to those behaviors were addressed for each topic: male-female differences, reproduction and birth, privacy or modesty, taboo or obscene words, genital play, and sexual exploration play.

Very few statistically significant differences were apparent in the comparisons that were made. Married mothers were more comfortable than single mother in responding to their child's questions about male-female differences and their child's use of taboo or obscene words. In addition, some interesting trends emerged. For instance, mothers tended to ex press more comfort when responding to hypothetical situations than when responding to actual situations. Questions about male-female differences, reproduction and birth, and privacy or modesty were responded to more frequently than questions about taboo or obscene words, genital play, or sexual exploration play. Moreover, maternal observation of behaviors that appeared to be more sensitive (and less comfortable, such as taboo or obscene words, genital play, and sexual exploration play) was lower than observation of less sensitive behaviors (male-female differences, privacy or modesty, and reproduction and birth). The implications of this study and directions for future research are discussed.