When Parents Watch, Kids May Control Risky Behaviors
A recent study suggests that when parents are engaged with their kids and aware of their teens’ activities, the teens may be less likely to engage with risky sexual behaviors.
Since January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, this study is perfectly timed to highlight how parents can help their teens avoid serious health consequences from risky behaviors.
The study found that when parents were involved and aware of their teens’ activities, teens were more likely to have longer delays before engaging in sexual activities, and were more likely to use precautions and barriers if they did decide to have intimate interactions. The study also looked at which monitoring techniques are currently most effective.
The researchers pooled data from 30 different studies that took place between 1984 and 2014. The studies had various numbers of participants and assessed adolescent sexual risk and parental monitoring. In one of the studies from 1999, which looked at associations between parents’ awareness, monitoring, and enforcement and teen involvement with alcohol, the researchers found that “monitoring” was a proactive way of reducing opportunities for teen misbehaviors with alcohol. Monitoring and ongoing involvement in activities seemed to trump punitive restrictions in this study.
From the results of the pooled studies the researchers termed “higher level of parental monitoring and being knowledgeable about their teens’ activities” as having the best payoff in terms of delaying sexual activity, and once activity did ensue, increased use of condoms and contraception.
Parents need to be clear about their views for appropriate and acceptable teen behaviors and they need to then create common goals for their teen’s health and welfare. They need to tell their kids from an early age to wait to have sexual interactions. The goal should be to create a trusting relationship while letting teens know parental positions on the “right time to begin intimacy.” Parents also need to increase their level of involvement if and when the teen decides to begin sexual activities.
The ultimate goal is to get teens to self-disclose so that parents are always involved and aware.
It is a gentle balancing act of maintaining the role of being a guiding parent, while withholding the impulse to judge their teen’s actions. It is especially important to continue to monitor your teen’s activities during a period when teen peer influences can have a significant impact on their decisions and their actions.
The lead researcher also suggested that parents should not treat teen sons and daughters differently. Use of monitoring should apply to both sexes, since health implications are important for boys and girls. Healthcare providers also need to be proactive with parents, providing guidance and support, so parents know what to do and how to handle these sensitive teen issues.
Sources: Reuters Health
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