Year Published: 2020
Authors: Jennifer M. Grossman, Ph.D., Anne C. Black, Ph.D., and Amanda M. Richer, M.A.
Source: Journal of Family Issues


A common way to understand healthy parenting is that it needs to be both responsive (supportive and connected) and demanding (has clear expectations for children’s behavior). Parenting that has both of these elements, often known as authoritative parenting, frequently leads to healthy youth outcomes. In a study of teens’ relationships with their parents, Dr. Grossman, Dr. Black and Richer found that these dimensions interact to predict young adults’ sexual health. Specifically, Dr. Grossman and her colleagues found that teens who were close with their parents and perceived that their parents disapproved of teen sex were less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior when they were young adults, such as having multiple partners or having a sexually transmitted infection. The researchers found this to be true whether it was the teen’s mother or father with whom they had this close relationship.

Few previous studies have considered the effects of parenting adolescents on their sexual behavior when they become young adults, or the effects of fathers’ parenting as well as that of mothers. In addition, few studies have investigated how parenting processes in combination--for example, closeness and disapproval--predict young people’s behavior.

This study contributes to our understanding of how parenting during adolescence can support young adults’ sexual health. It suggests that teens’ relationships with their fathers are important to their future health, and it shows the benefits of a parenting style that involves both nurturing and establishing clear expectations. One without the other is not enough--in fact, it can have the opposite effect--but in combination, they can positively

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