Family Cohesion and Romantic and Sexual Initiation: A Three Wave Longitudinal Study
- 589 Downloads
Although the relation between family relationships and the timing of sexual debut has been the focus of many studies, research on mediating factors is scarce. This study examines whether low levels of family cohesion result in an earlier onset of romantic and sexual experiences, and whether the link between family cohesion and an early sexual debut is mediated by early romantic initiation. A longitudinal sample of 314 adolescent girls and 222 boys, aged 12–17 at Wave 1, completed questionnaires at three measurement points with three year intervals. The results showed that sexual debut followed romantic initiation for 77% of the participants. For early adolescent females (aged 12–14), high levels of family cohesion resulted in a later sexual debut and this association was fully mediated by a delay of romantic initiation. Among boys and older girls, timing of romantic initiation did not mediate the link between family cohesion and timing of sexual initiation. Early adolescent girls who have negative relationships with their parents turn to romantic relationships for intimacy and support, which subsequently provide the opportunity for an early sexual debut. Low levels of family cohesion thus primarily precipitate romantic initiation and sexual initiation appears to be secondary to this process among girls in this age group.
KeywordsAdolescent sexual behavior Family relations Longitudinal Parent–adolescent relations Romantic involvement
- Blum, R. W., Beuhring, T., & Rinehart, P. M. (2000). Protecting teens: Beyond race, income and family structure. Minneapolis: Center for Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota. Retrieved from http://www.doe.in.gov/sdfsc/pdf/protectingteens.pdf.
- Buurmeijer, F. A., & Hermans, P. C. (1988). De relatie tussen individuele stoornissen en gezinsfunctioneren [The correlation between individual disorders and family functioning]. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Utrecht University.Google Scholar
- Carver, K., Joyner, K., & Udry, J. R. (2003). National estimates of adolescent romantic relationships. In P. Florsheim (Ed.), Adolescent romantic relations and sexual behavior: Theory, research, and practical implications (pp. 23–56). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Chandra, A., Martinez, G. M., Mosher, W. D., Abma, J. C., & Jones, J. (2005). Fertility, family planning, and reproductive health of U.S. women: Data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Statistics, 23.Google Scholar
- De Graaf, H., Meijer, S., Poelman, J., & Vanwesenbeeck, I. (2005). Seks onder je 25 e : Seksuele gezondheid van jongeren in Nederland anno 2005 [Sex under 25: Sexual health of young people in the Netherlands in the year 2005]. Delft, The Netherlands: Eburon.Google Scholar
- Furman, W., Ho, M. J., & Low, S. M. (2007). The rocky road of adolescent romantic experience: Dating and adjustment. In R. C. M. E. Engels, M. Kerr, & H. Stattin (Eds.), Friends, lovers and groups. Key relationships in adolescence (pp. 61–80). West-Sussex: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Furman, W., & Shaffer, L. (2003). The role of romantic relationships in adolescent development. In P. Florsheim (Ed.), Adolescent romantic relations and sexual behavior: Theory, research, and practical implications (pp. 3–22). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Meeus, W., & ‘t Hart, H. (Eds.). (1993). Jongeren in Nederland. [Youth in The Netherlands]. Amersfoort: Academische uitgeverij.Google Scholar
- National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. (2010). That’s what he said: What guys think about sex, love, contraception, and relationships. Retrieved from http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/pubs/ThatsWhatHeSaid.pdf.
- Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (2003). Applied longitudinal data analysis: Modeling change and event occurrence. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. In S. Leinhardt (Ed.), Sociological methodology 1982 (pp. 290–312). Washington DC: American Sociological Association.Google Scholar
- Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., Ruggiero, K. J., Kmett Danielson, C., Resnick, H. S., Hanson, R. F., Smith, D. W., et al. (2008). Prevalence and correlates of dating violence in a national sample of adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47, 755–762.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar