Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Teens, sex, and family dinners: Parent/teen relationships count November 21, 2009

Concerned about your teen engaging in sex at a young age? A new Child Trends research brief, Parents Matter: The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions about Sex, explores how your behavior and practices as a parent, and the qaulity of your relationship with your adolescent can make an impact on the probability of first sex by age 16.  

 The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions about Sex

  • Better parent-adolescent relationships are associated with reduced risk of early sexual experience among teen girls.
    • Teen girls who reported high relationship quality with both parents were less likely to have sex at an early age (22%), compared with teen girls who reported low relationship quality with both parents (37%).
    • This finding holds true for teen girls’ relationships with their mothers and fathers separately, but no significant association was found for teen boy
  • Teen boys who eat dinner with their family every day have a lower probability of having sex before age 16 (31%), compared with those who eat dinner with their family four days a week or less (37%). No significant association was found for teen girls on this measure.
  • Adolescents whose parents are more aware of whom they are with when not at home are less likely to have sex by age 16. For example, only 22% of girls who reported that their parents knew “everything” about whom they were with when they were not home had first sex before age 16, compared with 43% who reported their parents knew little or nothing.

“These findings highlight the importance of parents in adolescents’ lives,” said study co-author Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D. “Parents can be involved beyond having the ‘sex talk’ with their adolescents, by fostering strong relationships, developing family routines such as eating dinner together regularly, and being aware of where their children are when they are not at home.”
 
This study is based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, sponsored and directed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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