Research from the University of Montreal shows that 45 percent of teens do consider their parents their sexuality role models. It has been long stereotyped that children don't listen to their parents' advice when it comes to sex. But the research shows that only 32 percent of teenagers look to their friends as sexual role models, while 15 percent look to celebrities.
The survey participants included 1,139 mothers of teenagers and 1,171 youths between ages 14 and 17 years.
For the study, researchers asked about topics such as the sources of sexual health information and communication about sexual health and sexual activities, to name a few. Part of the funding for the research came from Merck Frosst Co., one of Canada's leading research-based pharmaceutical companies.
Good communication within families and especially around sexual health issues is associated with more responsible behaviors, said Dr. Jean-Yves Frappier, a researcher at the University of Montreal's affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center.
Another important finding from the survey is that many of the teenagers who take inspiration from their parents live in families where sexuality is openly discussed. The researchers found that teenagers in these families have a greater awareness of the risks and consequences of sexually transmitted infections.
Although it seems that nearly a half of the teenagers surveyed actually listen to their parents on issues relating to sex, 78 percent of the mothers in the survey believed their children modeled their friends' sexual behavior, according to the research.
Parents seem to underestimate their role and the impact that they have, Frappier said in a statement. Health professionals and the media have an important role to play in empowering parents and enabling them to increase their communications with their children with regards to sexual health issues.