Parenting Strategies and Teenage Pregnancy

Christine Tucker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Krista Perreira, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carolyn Tucker Halpern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Parents employ several strategies to influence the sexual behavior of their adolescent children. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we evaluate the influence of three parenting strategies -- parenting styles, parental communication and expectations, and role modeling – on the likelihood of teenage pregnancy. Parenting practices differed by the gender of the child; however, the influence of parenting strategies on teenage pregnancy was similar for male and female youth. In logit models adjusted for demographic, family, and community characteristics, we found that female youth with authoritarian or disengaged parents were at higher risk of becoming pregnant by age 18. Low parental expectations increased the risk of teenage pregnancy for youth with authoritarian, disengaged, or permissive parents. Parental role modeling only weakly influenced teenage pregnancy for females. Teen pregnancy prevention programs should emphasize helping parents develop effective discipline coupled with warmth and support and high educational expectations.

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Presented in Session 150: Parental Influences on Adolescent Sexual Behavior