Devoted dads can reduce risky teen sex, concludes a Boston College study published in Child Development. “Risky” means sex without condoms or contraception.
The more attentive the dad — and the more he knows about his teenage child’s friends — the bigger the impact on the teen’s sexual behavior, the researchers found. While an involved mother can also help stave off a teen’s sexual activity, dads have twice the influence.
. . . Parental knowledge of a teen’s friends and activities was rated on a five point scale. When it came to the dads, each point higher in parental knowledge translated into a 7 percent lower rate of sexual activity in the teen. For the moms, one point higher in knowledge translated to a 3 percent lower rate of teen sexual activity.
The impact of family time overall was even more striking. One additional family activity per week predicted a 9 percent drop in sexual activity.
A young father who’d grown up fatherless once told me he took his little girl to McDonald’s every week for a daddy-daughter meal. He wanted her to feel special long before teen-age boys asked her out and expected something in return.