Devoted dads, less risky teen sex

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.

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  1. Thanks for that reminder. All though there may be some confounding variables, such as the actual quality of that time spent, as parents we can never underestimate the impact we have on our children, either in our absence or our attention. As you infer, children who feel safe, secure, and loved are probably less likely to take part in many forms of risky behavior. I realize that teens go through a huge change, but we do all that we can to make our home an environment where our kids want to be and want to hang out with their friends.

    Happy Father’s Day, dads!

  2. Tracy W says:

    Or alternatively, teenagers who are willing to confide in their parents are less likely to be engaged in risky sexual behaviour anyway, and would be the same regardless of what their parents did.
    This study didn’t control for the genetic links – so what’s the point?