Teen Attitudes About Sex May Predict Absentee Fatherhood

Teen couple holding hands and cuddling on benchAdolescent attitudes may predict whether a man eventually lives with his future children, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Researchers were also able to predict which men would become teen fathers.

According to numbers from the United States Census Bureau, 1 in 3 children—24 million—live without their fathers.

How Adolescent Attitudes Predict Future Parenting

Researchers pulled data on 10,253 men from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This 20-year nationally representative study followed men from adolescence through young adulthood. As part of the study, participants responded to statements about their sexual behavior and attitudes. Researchers asked young men whether they agreed or disagreed with statements such as:

  • “If you had sexual intercourse, your friends would respect you more.”
  • “Using birth control interferes with sexual enjoyment.”
  • “It wouldn’t be all that bad if you got someone pregnant at this time in your life.”

The attitudes and behaviors men expressed during their adolescent years were significant predictors of their later experiences with parenting. Men who reported lower levels of concern about high-risk sex were 30% less likely to live with their future offspring. Those who expressed more favorable opinions toward getting someone pregnant were 20% less likely to live with their future children. Men who were knowledgeable about birth control were 28% more likely to live with their future children.

Men who expressed lax attitudes toward risky sex, such as endorsing the notion that getting another teen pregnant would not be that bad, were more likely to become teen fathers.

The Importance of Sex Education for Boys

The study is one of the first to study adolescent male health. Its authors emphasize that teen pregnancy prevention programs have historically targeted young women. The clear correlation between male attitudes and subsequent parenting experiences, they argue, points to the importance of sex education and early interventions for young men.

References:

  1. Garfield, C. F., MD, Duncan, G., PhD, Peters, S., Rutsohn, J., MPh, McDade, T. W., PhD, Adam, E. K., PhD, … Chase-Lansdale, P. L., PhD. (2016). Adolescent reproductive knowledge,attitudes, and beliefs and future fatherhood. Journal of Adolescent Health. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.12.010
  2. Predicting if young men will live with their kids. (2016, February 16). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/nu-epi021216.php
  3. There is a “father factor” in our nation’s worst social problems. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistics

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  • Harold

    Harold

    February 17th, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    And so much of this is reflective of the environment which they themselves have been raised within. If this is the kind of hands off life they have experienced with their own fathers then of course this is what they are going to believe and then act upon when they become a parent.

  • Dora

    Dora

    February 17th, 2016 at 1:31 PM

    I know that we are generally the product of how we have been raised but we should also give credit who have found a way to rise above that and go beyond what would have normally been expected of them/. Somewhere along the way they saw that the way that they were raised does not have to mean that this is how they raise and create their own families. We can do better than simply expecting the very bottom of the barrel from these kids. Let’s show them the respect that so many of the deserve for rising up and doing the right thing.

  • Antoine

    Antoine

    February 18th, 2016 at 10:43 AM

    I sure would hate to think that my attitudes when I was a teenager would still come back to haunt me as an adult. Isn’t moving on from that part of what growing up means?

  • obodo

    obodo

    February 18th, 2016 at 2:05 PM

    lack of self discipline are causes single parent,father runing away from responsibility.

  • Hunter

    Hunter

    February 19th, 2016 at 12:43 PM

    There are many schools that want to offer more in terms of better sex ed messages but they find that their hands are tied by members of the community who do not think that this is an appropriate lesson to give in class.
    Fine, if that is what you believe but they have to get the information somewhere. And if you are not going to let them do it in gym then parents and grandparents have to step up to the plate.

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