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October 24, 2012

Fathers can influence teens' sexual behavior, researchers say

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However, most studies have focused on the influence of mothers on teens' behavior.

In the new review, Guilamo-Ramos and colleagues looked at 13 studies of the paternal influence on the behavior of teens between ages 11 and 18. The researchers defined "fathers" broadly — they included biological fathers, stepfathers and adoptive fathers, and other men such as uncles or grandfathers who participated as primary male caregivers in teens' lives.

In considering the effect of a dad's general levels of strictness, a few studies showed that teens of both overly restrictive and overly lenient fathers started having sex earlier than teens of moderately strict fathers.

"Fathers who are moderately strict are those that have clear rules and agreed-upon rational consequences that have been discussed with their teen children," Guilamo-Ramos said. Teens should understand their fathers' expectations and know the consequences of not following the rules. But fathers should also discuss with their teens the decisions teens can manage on their own and the areas where fathers want input from their teens in making a rule or decision, he said.

Encouraging appropriate levels of teen autonomy and being consistent are important actions for fathers, he said.

"Evidence increasingly suggests that mothers and fathers independently shape areas of child development, such as academic success and peer relationships," the researchers wrote in the study, published last week in the journal Pediatrics.

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This article can be read in its entirety at myhealthnewsdaily.com.

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