Friday, February 19, 2010

Heritage Foundation - Parents’ Influence on Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior

Parents’ Influence on Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior

In light of a recent report that, for the first time in more than a decade, the rate of pregnancies among 18–19-year-olds in the United States is on the rise, parents should keep in mind that their attitudes and actions can have a substantial influence on their adolescent children’s sexual behavior. In particular, conveying the messages that it is best to wait until marriage to have children and that marriage should be a bond of commitment can decrease the likelihood that teens will be sexually active.

1. Parent-adolescent communication. Adolescents whose mothers discussed the social and moral consequences of being sexually active are less likely to engage in sexual intercourse.

2. Parental monitoring. Children whose parents monitor them more closely are less likely to be sexually active when they are in their teens. full details
3. Birth out of wedlock. Teenage girls are less likely to be sexually active if their parents were married at the time of their birth.

4. Single-parent socializing. Teenage boys whose mothers date more often and more quickly after a divorce are more likely to be sexually active.

5. Parents’ attitudes. Teenagers who feel their parents strongly disapprove of their being sexually active are less likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection.

6. Transitions in family structure. The likelihood that teenaged girls will become pregnant increases with each change in family structure that they experience.

7. Intact family. Adolescents in single-parent households are more likely to be sexually active than peers in two-parent families.

8. Family stability. On average, adolescents whose mothers divorced tend to have more sexual partners than peers who did not experience parental divorce.

9. Parental involvement. Teens whose parents watch television with them more frequently and limit their TV viewing are less likely to be sexually active.

10. Parental guidance. Adolescents whose parents talk with them about standards of sexual behavior are more likely to be abstinent.

Family Research Experts

Christine Kim
Policy Analyst
Domestic Policy Studies

Jennifer Marshall
Domestic Policy Studies

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