Family Influences on Dating

by Mary Foster

About Mary Foster

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Mary Foster began writing professionally in 1990. She has experience as a freelance copywriter and scriptwriter, and has worked for such organizations as Lockheed Martin and North Carolina Public TV. Foster has a Master of Arts in communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in film from the University of Central Florida.

Family Influences on Dating

Family beliefs and religious practices influence dating behavior among adolescents to a significant degree. More permissive attitudes correlate with the teen's having more dating partners and partners with whom the teen has a physical relationship. Factors contributing to teen pregnancy, violence and drug abuse may include low socioeconomic status, parental alcohol or drug abuse, violence in the home, sexual abuse and sexually active siblings living in the home. Other cultural messages affect teen dating behavior as well.

Religious Practices

A study by Dr. Shannon Davis at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill indicates family attitudes about cohabitation, divorce and premarital sex relate to teen dating behavior. The research suggests that adolescents from families with more permissive belief systems tend to have more dating partners and partners with whom they are physically intimate. Adolescents from families that stress faith and religious services attendance are less likely to demonstrate permissive behavior.

Low Socioeconomic Status

Low socioeconomic status often correlates with domestic violence among adults, but the relationship is less clear among adolescents. While low socioeconomic status may contribute to low self-esteem -- particularly in boys transitioning to middle and high school -- and low self-esteem may factor into dating violence, other issues such as parental behavior, alcohol use and parental involvement in school and other social activities come into play.

Parental Involvement in School Activities

Lack of parental involvement in school activities may contribute to violence in teen dating and other negative behaviors. The absence of a relationship between the parents and school prevents positive social bonding among the school, the community and the parents of the at-risk child and weakens the school's ability to influence child behavior.

Sexual Behavior

In a study conducted at Utah State University, “Family Influences on Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior,” principal investigator Brent Miller lists a range of factors that affect adolescent sexual behavior. Though single-parent households produce more adolescents who engage in sexual behavior, this may be due to several factors. The single parent may be more permissive or may lack time to supervise her child’s activities. Older siblings engaging in sexual activity may also be a contributing factor.

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