Parents as moderators of longitudinal associations between sexual peer norms and Dutch adolescents’ sexual initiation and intention

Daphne van de Bongardt, H de Graaf, E Reitz, M Dekovi?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The present study investigated how parents and peers interact in promoting or delaying Dutch adolescents' sexual initiation and intention and focused specifically on parents as moderators of peer influence. Methods: Using a longitudinal design, two waves of online questionnaire data were collected among 900 Dutch adolescents (M = 13.8 years at T1), who were sexually inexperienced at baseline. At T1, participants reported on three types of perceived sexual peer norms: friends' sexual behaviors (descriptive norms), friends' sexual attitudes (injunctive norms), and experienced peer pressure to have sex. They also rated two parenting aspects at T1: the general quality of their relationship with parents and the frequency of sexuality-specific communication with their parents. Six months later, the participants reported on their experience with different sexual behaviors ranging from naked touching or caressing to intercourse and their intention to have sex in the next school year. Results: Relationship quality with parents was significantly associated with both outcomes, with a higher relationship quality predicting smaller odds of sexual initiation and less intention to have sex. Two significant interaction effects showed that frequent sexual communication with parents significantly reduced the effects of sexually active friends and experienced peer pressure on adolescents' intention to have sex. Conclusions: Our findings show that different types of sexual peer norms and both general and sexuality-specific parenting play an important role in the early stages of Dutch adolescents' sexual trajectories. Moreover, parent–adolescent communication about sexuality can function as a buffer for the sex-stimulating effects of sexual peer norms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-393
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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