Parental involvement, family structure, and adolescent sexual decision making

Jennifer Pearson, Chandra Muller, Michelle L. Frisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to determine what aspects of parental involvement are related to sexual initiation, whether parental involvement explains the association between family structure and sexual debut, and whether these relationships differ among boys and girls or among non-Latino/a white, African American, and Latino/a adolescents. Results indicate that among young women and non-Latino/a white adolescents, four aspects of parental involvement - shared dinnertime, participation in shared activities, relationship quality, and communication about sex - are significantly and independently related to sexual initiation. When these young people have positive relationships with their parents, share mealtimes, and participate in shared activities, they are less likely to initiate sex. With a few exceptions, these parenting practices are not related to sexual debut among young men or African American and Latino/a adolescents. Findings also suggest that parental involvement does not mediate the association between family structure and sexual debut; rather, these aspects of adolescents' family lives are independently related to adolescent sexual initiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-90
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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