To examine aspects of the mother–daughter relationship as perceived by the 16-year-old (cohesion, flexibility, communication, monitoring, and satisfaction with time spent together) as they relate to when the daughter began having sex.
A secondary analysis using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Child (1992–2000) and Young Adult (1996–2004) surveys were analyzed (N = 1,592). Logistic regression models estimated reports of cohesion, flexibility, communication, monitoring, and satisfaction with time spent together with sexual initiation by age 16. All models controlled for the mother's sociodemographic characteristics, lack of independence due to sisters in the sample, and extended time away from mother.
Girls who reported being satisfied with the amount of time spent with their mother were less likely to report early sexual initiation. In addition, these girls were three times more likely to report good communication and four times more likely to report high levels of cohesion with their mothers. Individually, in addition to satisfaction with time spent together, high levels of cohesion and good communication were also associated with lower reports of sexual initiation by age 16.
The feeling of being satisfied with the time spent together appears to be a global measure of the individual dimensions of cohesion and communication. Efforts in delaying sexual initiation in adolescents need to be directed at the mother–daughter relationship. Interventions to develop these dimensions within the relationship during early adolescence, as compared to interventions when sexual activity may have already occurred, are warranted.
Girls who reported being satisfied with the amount of time spent with their mother were less likely to report early sexual initiation.
Cheryl L. Kovar is State Family Planning Nurse Consultant at North Carolina Division of Public Health, Women's Health Branch. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pamela J. Salsberry is a Professor and Director of PhD Program, The Ohio State University, College of Nursing.
The authors have disclosed that there are no financial relationships related to this article.