The Impact of Father Absence on Adolescent Romantic Relationship Ideals
Previous literature has addressed the impact of father absence on adolescents’ sexual development and behavior but has neglected to explore youth’s motivations and attitudes towards romantic relationships. This study examined the association between the duration of father absence and adolescents’ romantic relationship ideals of commitment, sex, and pregnancy within a romantic relationship. It further focused on any differences between genders. Findings based on data from Wave I of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N=18,849) showed that adolescents whose fathers were always absent had different romantic relationship ideals than those whose fathers were never absent: they desired a lower level of commitment to their partner and wanted to engage in riskier behaviors, such as sex and pregnancy, outside a committed relationship. Moreover, boys were more impacted by father absence than girls with regards to their desires for commitment and sexual activity, while girls wanted less commitment within a relationship overall than boys. These findings suggest that earlier interventions with youth, before adolescents initiate risky sexual behaviors, and interventions that target romantic ideals rather than sexual behavior may more successfully prevent risky sexual behavior.
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Kennedy, Erin; Kennedy, Erin (2012-05-02)Using nationally representative data from Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, this study explores how reproductive context, defined as the census block proportion of single-mother households, may moderate the impact ...