Adolescents’ Religious Discordance with Mothers: Is There a Connection to Sexual Risk Behavior During Emerging Adulthood?

journalofprimarypreventionYear Published: 2013

Authors: Grossman, J.M., Tracy, A.J. & Noonan, A.

Source: Journal of Primary Prevention, 34, 329-343.


Abstract: This study longitudinally investigates the relationship between adolescent/mother religious discordance and emerging adult sexual risk-taking 6–7 years later. We used Social Control Theory to examine the level and direction of concordance using data from Wave I and Wave III of the Add Health Study, focusing on constructs of religious importance, frequency of prayer, and attendance at religious services. We found that higher levels of adolescent/mother discordance in religious importance were related to increased emerging adult sexual risk-taking compared to those with similar levels adolescent/mother religiosity, but this occurred only when mothers reported higher levels of religious importance than their children. In contrast, adolescents reporting higher frequency of prayer than their mothers reported lower levels of sexual risk-taking than those with similar frequency of adolescent/mother prayer. These findings suggest that the protective effects of family religious socialization can be interrupted. However, this influence of religious difference on sexual risk-behavior operates differently depending on the direction and level of religious difference. Even in emerging adulthood, a period marked by distance from childhood values and institutions, religious difference with a parent remains a meaningful influence.


DOI: 10.1007/s10935-013-0315-2

ISSN: 0278-095X (print), 1573-6547 (online)