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Dad's Good Parenting May Help Daughters Avoid Risky Sex

Quality, not quantity, of time spent with father matters more for girls, study suggests

FRIDAY, June 17, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- The daughters of fathers with good parenting skills are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, a new study finds.

"When it comes to girls and their decisions about sex, it turns out a father's influence really does matter," lead author Bruce J. Ellis, of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona, said in a university news release.

Ellis and colleagues looked at 59 pairs of sisters in families in which the parents had divorced and the father moved out, and 42 pairs of sisters from intact families. For girls with divorced parents, older sisters spent an average of 7 more years living with their fathers than their younger sisters did, the study authors noted.

"It turned out that it didn't matter that much how long each daughter lived with her father, but rather what he did when he was there," Ellis said in the news release.

While living for a longer amount of time with a father who provided high-quality parenting reduced the likelihood of risky sexual behavior by daughters, spending more time with a father with poor parenting skills actually increased risky sexual behavior, the investigators found.

Risky sexual behaviors include having sex without a condom, having multiple sexual partners, having sex while intoxicated, and becoming pregnant before age 19.

The study is scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Development and Psychopathology.

More information

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has more about teen sexuality.

SOURCE: University of Arizona, news release, June 14, 2011
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