Research that surrounds a father’s role in the life of his kids often focuses on what they don’t do rather than what they do. Society has often become focused on understanding how a “deadbeat dad” impacts the psyche of his kids. However, dad’s advice and presence with his children is just as important to study as the ramifications of their physical absence.
New research published in the journal Pediatrics reviewed the results of 13 prior studies in an attempt to understand what a father’s positive presence can do for his children. These studies particularly focused on things like helping a teen make critical choices, such as choosing sexual behaviors.
Strong Advice from a Good Father Could Be Key
Often thought to be the realm of the mother, new studies are showing that a dad’s contribution to the sexual education of children is crucial as well. A father’s communication on the topic of sex has a major impact on the development of children’s views and behaviors. In fact, a review of several studies revealed that teens have sex less often if their dads participate in family discussions pertaining to sexual matters. Teens who have less sex have a lower risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancy. A poor relationship with one’s father is also often linked to other risky behaviors such as missing school, drug abuse, and more.
Don’t Expect Teachers or Healthcare Providers to Provide Sexual Guidance
In the US, many parents mistakenly assume it’s okay to leave the role of sex education solely in the hands of the schools and physicians. However, both teachers and doctors will only provide basic facts to teens. In some schools in the US, sex education is not part of the curriculum. This is due to budget concerns or community restrictions. These institutions are limited on a number of levels in terms of what they can share with teens about sex.
As a result, it makes sense not to leave a child’s knowledge of sex education solely in their hands. Strong family relationships play a vital role in helping teens learn about sex and preventative measures against diseases and unwanted pregnancies so they don’t need to rely on school.
Communication with Fathers is Key to Healthy Sexual Behavior
Parents can also share their spiritual, religious and cultural beliefs on sexual matters. This will help add additional layers to the image of sexuality for their kids. Research is showing that parents’ thoughts on sex make a huge impact on their teen’s choices.
It’s critical that parents communicate their values and provide guidance to their kids about how to keep themselves safe. A father’s advice to his child can hold a lot of weight when it comes time for their teen to make these choices in their lives. Healthy, positive discussions regarding safe sex and safe sex measures will help mold the teen’s sexual behavior throughout their lives.
Ultimately, helping your child to make healthy choices around sex can also increase their ability to make other positive decisions. And the better your relationship with your child, the more likely they will be to come to you in crisis.
Pediatrics. 2012 Nov; 130(5): e1313–e1325.