Daughters close to their moms wait longer to lose their virginity

Nov 30, 2016 at 12:04 p.m. ET
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A new study from the November edition of Pediatrics reports that girls who are closer to their mothers tend to wait longer before they lose their virginity.

Now, some of us will read that and say, "Well, duh. I'm 40 and I still can't have sex if my mom is any closer than a neighboring state." But what the study actually tells us is that if mothers and daughters have an open, trusting and positive relationship with each other, those daughters are more likely to listen to their moms and wait to have sex.

Nearly 3,000 children in the Netherlands completed questionnaires regarding sex and their relationships with their parents — first at age 12, and then again four years later at age 16. What the researchers found was that while the age at which boys first have sex was not related to their relationships with their parents — a shock to no one who has ever met a teenage boy — girls who reported having a "higher-quality relationship" with their mothers were 44 percent less likely to have sex during those four years than girls who said they weren't close to their mothers. A girl's relationship with her father made no difference, probably because the percentage of girls who want to discuss sex with their fathers is 0.0001 percent (according to our own non-existent study).

One thing important to note about this study is that sex was defined as heterosexual vaginal intercourse only, so there's a pretty good chance that the reason some of the kids hadn't had "sex" had nothing to do with how they felt about their parents. Still, 44 percent is a significant number, and that makes this study one for moms and dads to tuck away in their already filled-to-bursting brains. Maybe we can file it away in that corner where we keep Things We Don't Want To Think About But Are Important Anyway, like How To Save A Choking Toddler And How To Avoid Aggravating A Hippopotamus (they're Africa's deadliest animal, you know).

The great news about this study is that moms — despite it feeling like the opposite much of the time — can, in fact, influence their daughters to make good choices. However, as Cosmo points out in their article about this study: "This isn't to say that a girl's strong relationship with her mother means a girl won't have sex, or that if a girl does have sex, it means she doesn't have a good relationship with her mother." But what it does suggest is that the closer we are to our daughters, the more likely we are to talk about intimate subjects like sex. And when we can talk to our daughters about sex from an early age, we can make sure they understand the risks that come with it, how to keep themselves safe and the importance of waiting.