You can't just dump abstinence information on your teen and move on — this message must be repeated again and again.Authorities in parent-child communication emphasize the necessity of frequent repetition.For the most part, this is true as well: by age 21, 85% of men and 81% of women in the United States have engaged in sexual intercourse.If we compare these numbers to the average age of first marriage in the United States – 27 for women, and 29 for men – we get the picture: most people are having sex before marriage.Still, some in the United States are making “virginity pledges,” and commit to abstinence until marriage.
And what does it mean for the women they date, and might eventually marry?When it comes to influencing teens, parents have an advantage over peers, schools, churches and even media.Because parents are with their children year after year, they have a unique relationship that can help in discussing difficult topics.I’ve been researching men who pledge sexual abstinence since 2008, work that comes out of a larger scholarly interest in masculinities, religion and sex education.While men make this commitment with the good intentions for a fulfilling marriage and sex life, my research indicates that the beliefs about sexuality and gender that come hand in hand with these pledges of abstinence do not necessarily make for an easy transition to a married sexual life. ” Comedian Joy Behar recently joked that abstinence is what you do after you’ve been married for a long time. One is that sexual activity declines both with age and the time spent in a relationship. The second is that abstinence is not something you do before marriage.So in 2008, I began researching a support group of 15 men at an Evangelical church in the Southwest.