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J Fam Issues. 1980 Mar;1(1):81-102.

Maternal influence on the sexual behavior of teen-age daughters.



449 girls in Detroit between the ages of 14 and 16 years, and their mothers were interviewed. Sampling took into account factors of race and social class. The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between the type of maternal involvement in the sexual socialization of daughters and the sexual behaviour of these girls during adolescence. Measures of early and current communication between mother and daughter regarding sexual issues were based on daughter's reports. Information regarding the mother's role as a supervisor of the daughter's social life was obtained from reports of the mothers. The 2 other major variables were quality of mother-daughter relationship (MDREL) measured by a 9-item summed index reflective of the daughter's assessment of the relationship; and the nonmarital sexual history of the mother as an indicator of the mother's role as a modeling agent. The criterion variable was the daughter's sexual behavior measured by whether or not she had ever had sexual intercourse (yes or no). 5 background variables (race, head of household, daughter's age, relative family income, and family religiosity) were also measured. After controlling for background variables, mother's presence as a role model was found to be significantly related to the sexual status of the daughter. MDREL was the strongest predictor of sexual experience, with a more favorable relationship corresponding to lack of sexual experience. Early and recent sexual communication and mother's supervisory role were not found to be significantly related to the criterion variable. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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