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J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2000 May;13(2):89-90.

Parents' knowledge of adolescent girls' boyfriends

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  • 1Divisions of Psychology, Infectious Diseases, and Adolescent Medicine. Children's Hospital Medical Center, and University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Background: Previous research has demonstrated that parents play an important role in adolescents' reduction of risk of STD and unintended pregnancy through knowledge of their daughters whereabouts and by knowing their friends. Little is known, however, about parents; relationships with their daughters' boyfriends. Therefore, we sought to describe the daughters' perceptions of their parents' knowledge of their boyfriends.Methods: Questions regarding relationships with boyfriends and parents were assessed in the last wave of a longitudinal study of adolescent girls' romantic relationships. Of the 137 girls interviewed, 109 had had a boyfriend in the past 6 months, 78 had a current boyfriend. The results of this study were based on this subsample of 109.Results: The 109 adolescent girls had a mean age of 17.6 (range 14.9 to 19.3 years), and 80% were African-American and 20% Caucasian. Of those girls, 92 were sexually experienced (which 88% of their parents knew about), and 80 had engaged in sexual intercourse with this identified boyfriend. Nine of the girls reported that their parents had had no contact with their boyfriend in person or on the phone, and ten reported that they had neither met or talked on the phone to their boyfriend's parents. Three girls reported that neither they nor their boyfriends had had contact with the others' parents. Thirteen girls reported that their parents did not know their boyfriends at all well, 40 reported that their parents knew their boyfriends somewhat, and 56 reported that their parents knew their boyfriends well. Girls who had been involved in the relationship for a longer amount of time (F(2, 105) = 7.90, p <.001) and girls who perceived that their relationship would last a year or longer were more likely to think their parents knew their boyfriends well (chi sq = 14.1, p <.001). The results of the analysis between satisfaction with their romantic relationship and how well their parents knew their boyfriends approached significance (chi square = 5.5, p =.06). Of the six girls with a current boyfriend whose parents did not know their boyfriends, none were "very satisfied" with their relationship. Neither age nor race were related to how well the parents knew the boyfriend.Conclusions: These results indicate that most adolescent girls' parents have some contact with their boyfriends. Contact appeared to be related to length of relationship. Health care professionals should be sensitized to the needs of girls who are beginning new relationships, or are not satisfied with their relationship and who do not have access to parental support. Future research should examine familial/parental factors related to knowledge of the boyfriend and whether the lack of a developmental trend is the result of a restricted age range or of other family issues.

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