The Influence of Parental and Parent-Adolescent Relationship Characteristics on Sexual Trajectories from Adolescence through Young Adulthood

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Virginia Tech

Using the perspective of sexual script theory (Gagnon & Simon, 1973) and growth curve modeling, this study examined whether characteristics of parents and parent-adolescent connectedness influence change in lifetime number of sexual partners from adolescence through young adulthood. Living in a blended family, having at least one college-educated parent and on-time parent-adolescent sexual communication positively predicted later lifetime number of sexual partners. Parent religiosity and parent-adolescent connectedness negatively predicted later lifetime number of sexual partners. Parent-adolescent sexual communication that focused on negative consequences of sex and parent disapproval of adolescent sexual activity were not significant in the overall model. Control variables included adolescent race/ethnicity, gender, physical maturity, marriage history, virginity pledge history, and expectations of positive consequences of sex. Physical maturity and gender were not significant in the overall model. In conclusion, parents have significant and far-reaching influence on their children's later sexual behavior. This study extended research in the field by examining lifetime number of sexual partners across four time points, which allowed observation of change in this outcome variable with age and accounted for the nested nature of the data.

young adult, sexual partners, growth curve modeling, parents, adolescent