A new study shows girls with engaged, present fathers are less likely to look for love in promiscuous sex.
Quality time with Dad decreases a daughter’s propensity for risky sexual activity, according to a study released last month.
The study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, adds to a host of research that continues to highlight the importance of fathering for daughters.
Researchers Danielle DelPriore and Bruce Ellis of the University of Utah, and Gabriel Schlomer of the State University of New York at Albany, found an inverse relationship between the amount of quality fathering a daughter receives and her likelihood for promiscuous sex, unprotected sex, and sex while intoxicated.
While previous studies showed a link between less time with dad and risky sexual activity, some observers wondered whether genetics was somewhat to blame—a father prone to absence might pass on genes that made his daughter prone to risky behavior.
But this study derails that hypothesis.
For this study, researchers looked at families with two biological sisters, at least four years apart, in intact families, as well as families with a divorce or separation before the younger sister turned 14. Same family, same genetics, but two daughters with different amounts of quality fathering.
“We wanted to look into that ‘black box’ to see how a father’s behavior might change daughters’ environments in ways that promote or protect against risky sexual behavior,” DelPriore said.
Their conclusion: A quality relationship with a dad significantly influences a daughter’s behavior when it comes to risky sex.
“The prolonged presence of a warm and engaged father can buffer girls against early, high-risk sex,” said DelPriore, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
The authors note it was the quality of dad’s time in the home that made the biggest impact. When his influence and presence was positive, the older daughter—who spent more time with her father—delayed sexual activity and spent less time with sexually risk-prone peers. But more time with a distant and cold father seemed to have a negative impact on the older sister.
“It’s all about dosage of exposure to dads; the bigger the dose, the more fathering matters—for better and for worse,” concluded Ellis.
— by Kiley Crossland