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Summary: Mothersí Strong Disapproval of Adolescent Sex Helps Delay First Sexual Intercourse

Perceived maternal disapproval of sexual intercourse, along with mother-child relationships characterized by high levels of warmth and closeness, are important protective factors related to delaying adolescentsí first sexual intercourse.

  • In a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the results from a national longitudinal study of adolescent health were reported. According to the study, numerous psychosocial theories of health behavior, as well as previous research, suggest that the timing of first sexual intercourse is influenced by a broad array of socio-environmental and personal factors. Among the most powerful sources of social influence are parents, siblings, sexual partners, and friends. In regards to parental influences, a review of research highlighted aspects of parent-child relationships that are particularly relevant to adolescentsí sexual risk behaviors. Key relationship factors include parent-child closeness and connectedness, parentsí values about teen sex, and parent-child communication about sex. For this study, researchers aimed to focus on relationships between several potential forms of maternal influence and the timing of adolescentsí first sexual intercourse. This study also focused on three major hypotheses: first, adolescents who perceive maternal disapproval of sexual activity will initiate sexual intercourse later than other adolescents; second, adolescents who feel highly connected to their mothers will initiate sexual intercourse later than others; and third, adolescents who perceive maternal disapproval of sexual intercourse are more likely than others to experience high levels of connectedness to their mothers, and to have mothers who state strong disapproval and talk more frequently with them about sex. The results of the study found that adolescentsí perceptions of maternal disapproval and high levels of mother-child connectedness were directly and independently associated with delays in first sexual intercourse. Adolescents were most likely to perceive maternal disapproval if their mothers reported strong disapproval and if they reported being highly connected to their mothers. The researchers of the study concluded that perceived maternal disapproval of sexual intercourse, along with mother-child relationships characterized by high levels of warmth and closeness, may be important protective factors related to delaying adolescentsí first sexual intercourse.1

1Maternal Expectations, Mother-Child Connectedness, and Adolescent Sexual Debut, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 154, August 2000, pp. 809-816.

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