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07-06-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2018

Parenting, Communication about Sexuality, and the Development of Adolescent Womens’ Sexual Agency: A Longitudinal Assessment

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2018
Auteurs:
Verena Klein, Inga Becker, Aleksandar Štulhofer

Abstract

Sexual agency (i.e., the ability to make decisions and assertions related to one’s own sexuality) is associated with sexual health enhancing outcomes. Given that young women are expected to act passively, rather than with agency when it comes to sexual encounters, the present study aimed to explore whether parental support, knowledge, and communication about sexuality during late adolescence contribute to an enhancement of sexual agency in a sample of young women in the long-term. Using a longitudinal design (panel study), 320 female participants who participated in three data collection waves (T1, T2, and T5) were included in the analyses (Mage = 16.2 years, SD = 0.50 at baseline). Mediated by the frequency of parents’ communication about sexuality with their daughters, both dimensions of parental support (emotional engagement and support of autonomy) positively predicted adolescent women’s sexual agency two years later. In contrast, parental knowledge of their children’s whereabouts was unrelated to communication and female sexual agency. Specific dimensions of parenting seem to play a crucial role in empowering adolescent girls to act agentic through communicating, emotional support, and encouraging autonomy, which in turn may contribute to healthy sexual behavior in young adulthood.

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