New research published in Pediatrics suggest that teenagers girls who enjoy a close bond with their mothers are less likely to have sex before the age of 16.

“Pretend that sex doesn’t exist—or condition your daughters to be so full of shame they can’t ask you questions about it—and they’ll likely end up having sex younger,” says Kale.

Having a strong, open mother-daughter relationships, researchers found, that overwhelmingly reduced the probability that young girls would become sexually active early. A good-father son relationship, on the other hand, did not affect the age at which men have sex, probably because, author Raquel Nogueira Avelar Silva explains, “in many Western societies, the mother is still the primary caregiver and provider of their children’s sexual education.”

Clearly, sexist attitudes in the West encourage a double standard, encouraging boys to have sex earlier, for example, while encouraging girls to shoulder the responsibility for declining and remaining pure. Too bad the researchers did not bother to look into the effect of a strong mother-son relationship on a male teenager’s attitude toward women and sex, especially given the mother’s primary role in the household. Culturally, young boys are typically and often forcefully “separated” from their mothers at precisely the time when they could benefit most from her advice as well as a closer connection to her. More data here would certainly help us to unravel the origins of this gender-specific double-standard that harms both young women and men.

– Danielle Bizzarro

Read more at Broadly

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