chapter  16
26 Pages

Family Foundations of Sexuality

ByTerri D. Fisher

This chapter explores the role of the family in sexual development during the childhood and adolescent years. There is little evidence for the influence of early childhood family interactions on subsequent sexual behavior or attitudes. Family communication about sex, even with adolescents, is a relatively low-frequency behavior, with uncertain outcome. Parental attitudes regarding adolescent sexuality seem to be conveyed to offspring and are related to teen sexual activity. The closeness of the parentadolescent relationship is also an important predictor of adolescent sexual behavior. Mixed findings regarding the effect of parental monitoring or control may well be due to a curvilinear relationship between the degree of such parental supervision and adolescent sexual activity. The greater likelihood of sexual activity among teens living in a single-parent household is in part due to lack of supervision, but may be due to greater family instability as well. Older siblings also appear to be significant influences on adolescent sexuality.