Relationship With Parents
In general, good parental communication, an atmosphere of honesty and openness in the home, a two-parent home, and reasonable rules about sexuality are among the most important factors associated with adolescents delaying their first intercourse. This may be attributed to the fact that close families are more likely to transmit their sexual values and integrate their children into their religious and moral views. Researchers have also found a correlation between adolescents from close families and the likelihood that they will use contraception when they do have intercourse (Halpern-Felsher et al., 2004). In fact, this is the case among almost all races and ethnic groups (Baumeister et al., 1995; Brooks-Gunn & Furstenberg, 1989; Kotchick et al., 1999).
Overall, it is mothers who tend to be the primary communicators about sexuality to children of both sexes; in one study of Latino youths, mothers did 92% of all communication about sexuality to their teenagers (L. M. Baumeister et al., 1995). The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health, 2002) has also found that there is a maternal influence on the timing of first sexual intercourse for adolescents, especially for females. A mother’s satisfaction with her relationship with her daughter, disapproval of her daughter having sex, and frequent communication about sex was found to be related to a delay of first sexual intercourse (McNeely et al., 2002).
Research has found that children of both overly strict and overly permissive parents engage in sexual intercourse earlier and more frequently than parents who are moderately strict. Family influences do not stop with parents, however; younger children with sexually active older siblings are also more likely to become sexually active themselves (Werner-Wilson, 1998).