No one is shocked when teens look to their parents for religious values or political views. However, a surprising new study found that many parents are also their teens’ sexual role models.
The results of a national online study by the Université de Montréal show that 45 percent of teenagers consider their parents to be their role models for sexuality, compared to the 32 percent that look to their friends and just 15 percent that take inspiration from celebrities.
The survey also revealed that the teenagers who look to their parents live in families where sex is openly discussed. Moreover, teens in these families show greater awareness of the risks and consequences of sexually transmitted diseases.
“Parents seem to underestimate their role and the impact that they have,” said Dr. Jean-Yves Frappier, a researcher at the Université de Montréal-affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center. “Health professionals and the media have an important role to play in empowering parents and enabling them to increase their communications with their children with regards to sexual health issues.”
The survey involved 1,139 mothers of teenagers and 1,171 youths between the ages of 14 and 17. The questions discussed topics like teens’ sources of sexual-health information, communication about sexual health, family functioning and sexual activities.
“Good communication within families and especially around sexual health issues is associated with more responsible behaviors,” Frappier said.