Parental Attitudes Towards Teens’ Sexual Behavior Examined

Though parents may often be interested in counseling their children about various ideas and behaviors, they may not always now just what to say –or how they feel about the issue, themselves. Sex is typically a difficult subject to broach between parents and teenagers, and some family relationships may suffer as a result. Focusing on concerns over sexual activity in teens and subsequent reactions and ideas in parents, a researcher at North Carolina State University has developed work showing that parents tend to hold their child blameless for any undesirable sexual activity, while contributing to potentially negative stereotypes about youth and relationships.

The researcher’s study examined beliefs about teen sexual activity and behaviors as described by parents, and sough to find out how stereotypes about teenagers and the sexes play into parental beliefs. The study found that parents tended to believe that their own children were uninterested in sex, though they also believed that other teens were highly sexual and posed a potential threat to their own offspring. In particular, parents of teenage boys reported concerns about teenage girls who they believed could coerce their sons into sexual relationships in an effort to keep the boys interested and committed. Parents of teenage girls, on the other hand, were concerned that their daughters would be predated by “sexually driven” teenage boys.

Nothing that such gender-based stereotypes can be harmful, the researcher points out that parents tend to suggest a negative quality about youthful relationships, which may lead to the perpetuation of risky behaviors and the acting-out of reinforced stereotypes. The researcher is anticipating the publication of a book discussing these concepts which may help parents, teenagers, and family counselors achieve a common ground for thinking and communicating about sexual relationships, activities, and expectations.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Judy


    May 5th, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    It is very typical of a parent to think of their own child as an individual who is not interested in sexual relationships and that the other kids around are trying to hunt their child down.This comes from the fact that every parent wants to defend and protect their child from anything external that they think may be harmful for the child.

  • M.Johnston


    May 6th, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    Its funny how parents always think its the other kid’s fault.Not only in sexual behavior,but in everything else as well.if a child has had a fight at school,they will always assume that their own child could not have started it and put the blame on the other child.This kind of prejudice does no good.

  • Christine


    May 6th, 2010 at 5:00 AM

    It must be so difficult to talk with your own kids about sex. I never remember my mom talking with me about it and I don’t have kids so I would not know what that would be like. I think that I would probably be way more nervous than the kids. You want to maintain that perfect balance of preparing them for the realities of sex but also to let them know the good and the bad. That’s scary. Everyone has a different idea of what sex is like and what it should be like and I would not really know how to state just the facts and not have my own experiences and opinions cloud over what really needs to be said. I do not envy parents the job of having to do all of that at all!

  • Teenage Problems

    Teenage Problems

    May 24th, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    Many of the teenagers are suffering from teenage compulsive sexual behavior and sex addiction problems. It also results in teenage pregnancy and transmission on sexual transmitted diseases. Many treatment centers are there offering treatments for curing serious problems in adolescents.

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