A terrific article in Time magazine talks about how we develop the ability to love -- as well as the style in which we love.
Writer Tiffany Sharples mentions unpublished research showing that kids who grow up in cold or hostile families are more likely to engage in sexual behavior at an early age.
Psychologists have long warned that children who grow up in a hostile home or one in which warmth is withheld are likelier to start having sex earlier and engage in it more frequently. In a study that will be published in March, Trish Williams, a neuropsychology fellow at Alberta Children's Hospital, studied a group of 1,959 kids ages 11 to 13 and did find a striking correlation between a volatile home and earlier sexual behavior. A few of the children had had intercourse at as young an age as 12, and while the number of sexually active kids wasn't high--just 2% of the total--the cause was clear. "Hostile parenting is highly associated with problem behavior," says Williams.
This is another thing that can seem like a big duh. When you don't get enough love at home, you'll try to get it wherever you can -- and for preteens and teens, love is pretty hard to separate from sex. (And that craving for love can be seen as a need for more oxytocin release to counteract the stress of daily life.)
But it's important to have this kind of statistical backing for what some people understand intuitively, because other people don't. Everyone thinks -- or at least unconsciously feels -- that the way they grew up is normal. If you had cold withdrawn parents, you're very likely to parent your kids the same way, rationalizing it by saying, "They need to be independent and able to stand up to the hardships of life." Or something.
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