Parent and family influences on young women's romantic and sexual decisions

Deborah Wisnieski, Renee Sieving, Ann Garwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Parents can play an important role in reducing their children's risk for teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and in promoting sexual health during adolescence. The purpose of this study was to explore communication between parents, family members and young people and how it influences their romantic and sexual behaviours. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 African American, American Indian, Euro-American and Latina women aged 19–29 years. Findings clustered into five themes. First, mothers were often the primary source of reproductive education. Second, fathers provided valuable guidance, although they were not the first source of information. Third, parental expectations influenced young people's sexual behaviours both positively and negatively. Fourth, aunts, uncles and grandparents were trusted sources of advice for personal discussions. Fifth, over one-third of participants perceived that there was no adult available to them during their teenage years for discussions about romance. Sex educators can encourage and guide parents to discuss romantic and sexual issues with young people as a way to support their young people's healthy sexual and romantic behaviours. Health and sex educators should also identify young people lacking support and encourage stronger relationships with family including fathers and extended family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-157
Number of pages14
JournalSex Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported on here was conducted at the University of Oklahoma. It was supported by an Advanced Nursing Education HRSA grant to The University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, Oklahoma City, OK [grant number D09HP10420], and Sigma Theta Tau, Beta Delta Chapter, Oklahoma City.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • USA
  • family influences
  • parents' role
  • sex education
  • sexual decision-making
  • young women

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