Study Proves Families with Involved Fathers save Daughters from Engaging in Risky Sexual Behaviors

Are genes the sole reason behind governing the pattern of sexually risky behavior in daughters? Researchers at the University of Utah sought the answer to this question in a recently published study. The study, published online in Developmental Psychology, which focused on several families with daughters who spend varying degrees of time with their fathers, used the families as control groups to individually focus on whether genes or environmental conditions determined the cause for healthy or risky sexual behavior.

The results concluded that while genes do play a part in a daughter’s sexual behavior that may not be the whole story.

The Role of Fathers in Healthy Daughter Development

As the University of Utah discovered, the quality of a father’s relationship with his daughter has a direct impact on her behavioral health. If a daughter’s relationship with her father was close or even casually positive, she was less likely to practice risky sexual behavior, engage in substance abuse, and associate with at-risk peers as a result of receiving more parental supervision.

For daughters who had spent many years in a negative relationship with their fathers, the opposite was true. Low-quality parenting from fathers seems to promote unhealthy sexual behaviors and associating with promiscuous peers in daughters.

“It’s not enough for a dad to just be in the home,” said Danielle J. DelPriore, a lead author of the study and post-doctoral fellow in the University of Utah’s Department of Psychology. “The quality of a father’s relationship with his daughter has implications for both the overall monitoring she receives from her parents as well as her likelihood of affiliating with more promiscuous or more prosocial friends.”

Bruce J. Ellis of the University of Utah and Gabriel L. Schlomer of the University of Albany, SUNY were the ones who co-authored the recent father-daughter study. Ellis and Schlomer had conducted research on the topic before. In previous research, they found that a casual effect of the fathering quality on daughters could suggest an influence on the daughters’ sexual behavior, but didn’t know how or why they could be related.

DelPriore and the other researchers conducted another study to rule out genes as the sole contributing factor. “We wanted to look into that ‘black box’ to see how a father’s behavior might change daughters’ environments in ways that promote or protect against risky sexual behavior,” DelPriore said.

In the newer study, they examined the relationships of families with a father and two sisters in each one. The ages of the sisters in each studied family were apart by at least four years, and in each family, the parents stopped living together before the younger sister was age 14. Biologically intact families served as the control group, in which both sisters in each family lived together with both parents into adult age.

The results showed that the older sisters, who had more exposure to their fathers, had the greater impact of their sexual behavioral development for better or for worse. Older sisters who received high quality fathering had lower chances of developing an unhealthy sexual lifestyle than their younger siblings. Older sisters who were exposed to lower quality fathering, however, were worse off than their younger siblings in the same areas. They were also more prone to develop alcohol addictions, substance abuse practices, and other social problems that would haunt them in their adulthood.

The Impact of Positive Active Parenting

In short, the study showed via the different control groups that parenting from both parents throughout a child’s life makes a big difference in their mental and social health. They also play a part in shaping their children’s future, as children are greatly influenced by the parents they spend the most time with. In this light, teachers, pastors, and researchers urge both fathers and mothers to be actively engaged with their children. The study’s findings also suggest that programs designed for female teens to engage with prosocial peers and parents to improve communication with their teens can help remedy risky sexual behaviors.

It takes parents much more than being in the same home with their children; they must establish a clear communication base with them so they can develop in a healthy and safe environment with appropriate boundaries. Christians too can learn from this study, as the same benefits apply to their families. Make sure to take the time with your children today – it will impact their futures for years to come.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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