The idea that fathers play a significant role in the development of their kids' approach to sex has received some support in a new evidence review. Studies in the review suggest that adolescents have less sex if their fathers talk to them more about sexual matters.
The review suggests that "fathers do make a difference. It's not just about mothers," said lead author Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, a professor and co-director of New York University's Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health.
There are caveats. The review only looked at a few studies because there's little research into the role of fathers -- as compared to mothers -- when it comes to the decisions that teens make about sex. And it's possible that some other factor could explain the apparent link between more fatherly communication and less sexual activity.
While schools and health-care providers often focus on children directly in efforts to change the way they act, "in study after study, young people say that when it comes to these important decisions, it really matters what their parents think about these issues," Guilamo-Ramos said.
The review authors found and reviewed 13 studies about the effect that fathers had on the sexual behavior of their kids. The studies suggest -- but don't prove -- that communication between fathers and kids is especially influential.
Closeness with fathers at the beginning of a study was significantly associated with daughters delaying starting sex after a year of follow-up. A single study on father-son HIV prevention found that more communication about sex was linked to increased abstinence in the six-month study period.
The study appears online Oct. 15 and in the November print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Source: U.S. News & World Report