Keeping a close eye on your teenage kid's every move will actually encourage him or her to have more sex, according to a new study, which provides a link between rigid parenting and increased sexual activity in older teens.
While it's not yet confirmed if controlling mothers and fathers cause kids to have more sex, Rebekah Levine Coley, lead author of the study, said that it is wise to give children freedom.
"Warm, more democratic relationships - in which parents do not use negative and psychologically controlling behaviors - could help parents to communicate values, increase adolescents'' identification with their parents, help youth to develop healthy decision-making skills and also keep youth away from negative peer influences," said Coley.
This study of nearly 5,000 U.S. teenagers indicated that more than two of every three American teens has sexual intercourse before age 19.
While it was studied earlier how family life affects teens, but Coley said that the findings were "suggestive but not definitive" and did not reveal which techniques work the best.
In this study, researchers examined the results of an annual survey of American teens born between 1980 and 1984. The researchers looked at the survey results for 4,980 teens and used a number of statistical techniques to try to pinpoint the effects of various parenting styles.
Regular family activities - "things like eating dinner together as a family or engaging in fun activities or religious activities together" - seemed to make sexual activity less likely, said Coley.
Kids also seemed to be less sexually active if their parents did not engage in "negative and psychologically controlling behaviours."
While, the research did not confirm a direct cause-and-effect relationship between parenting styles and teen sexual activity, Coley said that researchers would be unable to find such a relationship unless they randomly assigned different families to raise children.
The new study offers a "simple and clear message" about the importance of parenting, said Don Operario, a professor at Oxford University in England. Operario studies health and social issues.
While some recent research has focused on how the media and peers affect the sex lives of adolescents, he said, this study "reminds us of the foundational role of parents in determining whether their teens engage in risky sexual behaviours."
"This research is not necessarily saying to parents: ''Go and talk to your teens about sex and counsel them on condom use, pregnancy, HIV and delaying sex. It is saying: ''Support your teens, spend time with them, be less critical and controlling and more nurturing in their adolescent development. This, in turn, can help them make more informed, safe decisions about sexual activity,''" said Operario.
The researchers reported their findings in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.