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Parents in Denial of Sexually Active Children

Despite the heightened display of sexuality found in entertainment media, parents still have difficulty coming to terms with the fact their kids may be sexually active.

Part of the denial comes concern from widespread concern about the consequences of teen sexual activity.

In fact, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that many parents think that their children aren’t interested in sex — but that everyone else’s kids are.

“Parents I interviewed had a very hard time thinking about their own teen children as sexually desiring subjects,” says Dr. Sinikka Elliott, an assistant professor of sociology at NC State and author of the study.

In other words, parents find it difficult to think that their teenagers want to have sex.

“At the same time,” Elliott says, “parents view their teens’ peers as highly sexual, even sexually predatory.”

By taking this stance, the parents shift the responsibility for potential sexual activity to others – attributing any such behavior to peer pressure, coercion or even entrapment.

For example, Elliott says, parents of teenage boys were often concerned that their sons may be lured into sexual situations by teenage girls who, the parents felt, may use sex in an effort to solidify a relationship.

The parents of teenage girls, meanwhile, expressed fears that their daughters would be taken advantage of by sexually driven teenage boys.

These beliefs contribute to stereotypes of sexual behavior that aren’t helpful to parents or kids.

“By using sexual stereotypes to absolve their children of responsibility for sexual activity, the parents effectively reinforce those same stereotypes,” Elliott says.

Parents’ use of these stereotypes also paints teen heterosexual relationships in an unflattering, adversarial light, Elliott says and notes the irony of this: “Although parents assume their kids are heterosexual, they don’t make heterosexual relationships sound very appealing.”

Source: North Carolina State University

Parents in Denial of Sexually Active Children

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Parents in Denial of Sexually Active Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/04/parents-in-denial-of-sexually-active-children/13472.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.