Some Things are Better Left Unsaid: Topic Avoidance in Family Relationships

Laura Guerrero, Walid A. Afifi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


This study extends topic avoidance research by investigating both child/parent and sibling relationships. Results indicated that: (I) Adolescents and young adults avoid discussing negative life experiences and dating experiences more with parents than siblings, and more with male targets; (2) adolescents and young adults avoid discussing sexual matters with opposite-sex family members; (3) female dyads (daughter/mother, sisters) practice the least avoidance on topics involving relationship issues or friendships; and (4) males avoid discussing relationship issues, negative life experiences, dating experiences, and friendships more than females. Wanting to protect oneself was highly predictive of topic avoidance across all family relationships except for sister-sister relationships. For sisters, partner unresponsiveness and social inappropriateness were predictive of topic avoidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-296
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • parent-child relationships
  • partner unresponsiveness
  • relationship protection
  • self protection
  • self-disclosure
  • sibling relationships
  • social inappropriateness
  • Topic avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


Dive into the research topics of 'Some Things are Better Left Unsaid: Topic Avoidance in Family Relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this