parents are teens role modelsIt might come as a surprise to many that a national survey conducted by the Université de Montreal of just over 1,100 teens between the ages of 14 and 17 has shown that teens are more influenced by their parents than their peers when it comes to the issue of sexual behaviour. Even more shocking is that the sexual behaviour of their pop idols or Hollywood actors/actresses don’t even register.

To be more concrete, the survey found that 45% of teens say that their sexual role models are their parents, 32% say they look to their friends and 15% to celebrities.  This study has turned everything that was commonly thought of between parents and kids concerning sex on its head.

Most parents would be shocked at these results as 78% of mothers survey believed their kids’ friends’ were their primary sexual role models. Parents seem to underestimate their role (positive or negative) and the impact they have on their kids in this way.  As a result many quit trying to communicate believing it has no effect.

The teens that tread along the sexual path indicated by their parents are from open households that discussed sex and the body.  Sexual issues of a wide variety were discussed by these families.  As a result of this frankness the teens were more likely to be aware of the risks involved with having sex like sexually transmitted diseases.  Good and honest communication resulted in responsible behaviour.  The bottom line is that parents should continue talking to their teens even when it seems like they are not listening because deep down inside they are.

You don’t have to beat kids over the head with a sex ed. course or embarrass them.  What you can do is bring it up in relation to a film, music video, television program, or newspaper article that you both have seen. Gently ease your way into a discussion about sex. Your teen might roll their eyes or turn scarlet but they will intake what you are saying even if their body language says otherwise.

When a teen indicated that they listened to their parents when it came to matters of sex and sexual relations they tended to be less sexually active than those who ignored their parents on the matter.  It was a big difference of 39%-40% (no parental influence) to 17%-22% (parental influence). This is tremendously important for parents to take note of in this time of increased teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

To end this with a twist and to be completely transparent, the study also showed that one-third of the teens surveyed answered that they had no sexual role models.  In regards to sexual activity these teens fell somewhere in the middle.

In regards to teens and sexual role models it seems like as with most of parenting there are no hard and fast rules.  You just have to figure it out as you go along.