Dad can reduce teen sex ,husband feels guilty after sex,swinging lifestyle has left them both
By Live Dr - Thu Jun 11, 1:22 am
Devoted dad key to reducing risky teen sex
Moms help, but an involved father has twice the influence,
new study finds
When it comes to preventing risky teen sex, there may be no better deterrent than a doting dad.
Teenagers whose fathers are more involved in their lives are less likely to engage in risky sexual activities such as unprotected intercourse, according to a new study.
The more attentive the dad — and the more he knows about his teenage child’s friends — the bigger the impact on the teen’s sexual behavior, the researchers found. While an involved mother can also help stave off a teen’s sexual activity, dads have twice the influence.
Maybe there’s something different about the way fathers and adolescents interact,” said the study’s lead author Rebekah Levine Coley, an associate professor at Boston College. “It could be because it’s less expected for fathers to be so involved, so it packs more punch when they are.”
Understanding a father’s influence in teen sexual behavior is important, experts say. One in four American adolescents under the age of 15 has had sexual intercourse and, by age 18, two-thirds have had sex, according to research. The concern is, many sexually active young people aren’t using protection, a contributing factor in rising teen birth rates. Approximately 750,000 teenagers become pregnant each year and about 3 in 10 teenage girls become pregnant at least once before age 20, according to government statistics.
For the new study, which was published in the journal Child Development, Coley and her colleagues surveyed 3,206 teens, ages 13 to 18, once a year for four years. The teens, who all came from two-parent homes, were asked about their sexual behaviors and about their relationships with their parents.
Researchers posed a series of questions about both mothers and fathers, such as “how much does s/he know about whom you are with when you are not at home?” The teens were also asked how often they interacted with their parents in activities such as eating dinner, playing games or attending religious activities.
Dad’s positive effect
Parental knowledge of a teen’s friends and activities was rated on a five point scale. When it came to the dads, each point higher in parental knowledge translated into a 7 percent lower rate of sexual activity in the teen. For the moms, one point higher in knowledge translated to a 3 percent lower rate of teen sexual activity.
The impact of family time overall was even more striking. One additional family activity per week predicted a 9 percent drop in sexual activity.
Child development experts said the study was carefully done and important. “It’s praiseworthy by any measure,” said Alan E. Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University. “The strength of this study is that it helps us identify the children who might be engaging in risky sexual behavior.”
Why would dads have a more powerful influence?
“Dads vary markedly in their roles as caretakers from not there at all to really helping moms,” Kazdin said. “The greater impact of dads might be that moms are more of a constant and when dads are there their impact is magnified.”
Also, Kazdin said “when dads are involved with families, the stress on the mom is usually reduced because of the diffusion of child-rearing or the support for the mom.”
In other words, dad’s positive effect on mom makes life better for the child, Kazdin explains.
The study underscores the importance of parental engagement overall, said Patrick Tolan, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
“For one thing, the more time you spend with them, the less time they’re going to be on their own in places where they can get into risky behavior,” Tolan explained. “Also, if you’re spending time talking to them, they’re going to get your values and they’re more likely to think things through rather than acting impulsively.”
But simply requiring more family dinners won’t necessarily reduce the risk that a teen will engage in unprotected sex. The families that are spending more time together may be different in some way from those that are spending less: they may simply be warmer and have closer ties, Kazdin said. If the kids are avoiding their parents because the atmosphere in the home is tense, adding more together time isn’t going to help, Kazdin said.
Coley hopes that the study will encourage both moms and dads to keep trying to connect with their teenage children, even as their kids are pushing them away.
“While it’s normal for teens to want to pull away from the family, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to engage at all,” Coley said. “It’s extremely important to continue to do things together. And it’s up to parents to set the expectations and standards when it comes to spending time together. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive.”
Linda Carroll is a health and science writer living in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Health magazine and SmartMoney.
Her husband feels guilty after sex. What gives?
Plus, their foray into the swinging lifestyle has left them both confused
Q: After 27 years of marriage and great sex, my husband still feels guilty after he orgasms. Why does he feel this way and is there anything I can do?
A: Geez, what do you want? You’ve had 27 years of great sex. May you have 27 more. What’s a little guilt? It clearly hasn’t stopped him.
He may not be suffering from guilt as much as he is experiencing post-coital tristesse and interpreting it as guilt.
But let’s say he is. It does happen. In their landmark 1994 survey of American sex, Edward O. Laumann and colleagues found that having sex made 2.8 percent of married people feel guilty.
Why would a married man feel guilty about sex with his wife? Well, sometimes men can be a little ashamed after the fact. Did you two use porn? Did he make funny wildebeest noises? In the throes of passion did he suggest you have sex with the 1967 Green Bay Packers? Were deli items involved? All that can seem like much more fun before the ejaculation. After, we may wish to hide our shame.
Or maybe he was just raised to think sex was dirty. If so, take that up with his mom.
A: My wife and I have been married for 30 years. I delved in a bi-curious/bisexual phase about five years ago for the oral satisfaction I was not getting at home. My wife discovered this and now considers me to be gay or bi. After her discovery, in an attempt to please me, we entered the swinging lifestyle for about two years. A majority of our encounters were with strictly straight sex, no bi play at all. A few times during our encounters with other men, during the heat of the moment, I performed oral sex on the other man. My wife is totally disgusted with my behavior and our marriage is heading toward divorce. I don’t consider myself gay but I do enjoy the satisfaction I feel giving and receiving oral sex. The bisexual encounters and the swinging encounters were not meant to be combined. I suggested the swinging lifestyle to “spice up” our marriage but my wife thinks I wanted it because of the men. We have not had sex in two years. How common is my situation? Should I even attempt to save this marriage? She states she no longer loves me as a husband.
I know men whose wives won’t let them go to Hooters! And yours finds out about your bisexual experiments and then tries on swinging just to please you? Give that woman a trophy.
According to Eli Coleman, director of the program in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota and one of this nation’s foremost experts in sexual orientations and sexuality, “it is possible for him to be primarily heterosexual with a curiosity about same-sex encounters. That is not so uncommon in the swinging world.”
But he was struck, as I was, by your statement that you dabbled in bisexuality for the oral satisfaction. You do know that women have mouths, too, don’t you? But you picked men. Why?
Coleman explained that you may have picked men because we’re easy. “It is really more about the convenience than it is men being the erotic orientation,” he said. “It is just easier to get oral sex from a man than a woman in this culture. You can go to any rest stop or airport bathroom to prove that.” So maybe you are essentially straight and just went looking for quickie sex.
Or maybe not. It is equally possible you are hiding. Sometimes, Coleman said, people who say they are “experimenting” or “bi-curious” really are bisexual and don’t want to face it. Or, they could be homosexual “and they just use that term ‘bi-curious’ to justify their ability to explore” being gay. After 30 years of marriage to a woman you just might fear the truth.
Look at this from your wife’s point of view. She made a pretty big effort. Heroic, really. She may feel betrayed. In a small 1989 study of 21 women who had married men expecting straight monogamy, but whose husbands had sex with men, the wives’ “suffering was aggravated by feeling deceived or stupid for not having guessed the truth.”
Back in the 1980s when Coleman studied this phenomenon, he found that marriages could survive situations like yours, but the chances diminished the older the people involved were, the more children they had, the later the man began having homosexual experiences, and if he was getting emotionally involved with any of his male sex partners.
The only way to know what you and your wife should do is to seek therapy, right away, from a therapist trained to address not only marital, but sexual orientation problems (and by “trained,” Coleman means “not just an hour seminar at a conference.” You need an expert.) You can begin by checking the website for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (www.aasect.org).
‘Sex surrogates’ put personal touch on therapy
Despite dubious legality, some counselors still prescribe
practice to patients
“Jane” looks to be somewhere shy of 40 years old, though she’s squirrelly about telling me her age. She is, as she likes to say, “unaltered,” not a supermodel type. She’s slightly soft, ample in a pleasing way, with brown hair and an open face. I suppose you might say she’s average, but she earns part of her living in a very unaverage fashion.
Jane is a sex surrogate. Los Angeles-area therapists and counselors send male patients to Jane and then she takes off her clothes and engages in that time-proven pedagogical method of teaching by doing. In the three years she’s been a surrogate, she has taught about 20 men the pleasures of the flesh.
You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of sex surrogates, or thought they were more urban myth than reality. But if you can recall when backyard “spas” were called hot tubs, Peter Frampton ruled and you were traumatized by the discovery of your mom’s copy of “The Joy of Sex,” you may also recall that surrogates were once the rage.
The boom started when famed sex therapy pioneers Masters and Johnson revealed they had prescribed surrogates for some of their clients. Then a lot of people decided they needed therapy, too. Having a naked surrogate touch your privates or gently encourage you to have intercourse made therapy seem far more pleasant than sitting across from a shrink talking about how your oedipal complex caused your premature ejaculation.
In the 10 years between 1970 and 1980, surrogacy went from being practically unknown to pop culture fascination. In 1980, one California therapist estimated there were between 400 and 500 surrogates working in the United States.
Shrinking into the shadows
Then, like the passenger pigeon, sex surrogates seemed to disappear. Nobody knows how many are left in the U.S. today, but estimates from therapists who use them say there might be 40.
The reason for the disappearance was largely, though not entirely, political. Sex therapy had a sketchy reputation when it began. Throw in the notion of using a substitute sexual partner, with its heavy payload of sniggering and the foggy legality of paying for sex, and the fledging field was at risk of being regarded as more whoopee than therapy.
Besides, after AIDS, Viagra, the explosion of sexual information, the mainstreaming of sex therapy, surrogacy came to seem an anachronistic and somewhat embarrassing holdover from the ‘70s, like orange shag carpeting, maxi-skirts and men with goldfish in their platform shoes.
In an effort to provide a patina of legitimacy, one surrogate named Vena Blanchard created the International Professional Surrogates Association to train and certify sex surrogates. That helped, but not much.
“A couple of things made (surrogates) problematic for some therapists,” Howard Ruppel, Ph.D., academic dean at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, explained. “One is the matter of respectability. If you want to get an interesting discussion going on the bulletin boards of professional groups that certify sex therapists, just put surrogate partners out there and the thing goes berserk.”
According to Stephen Conley, Ph.D., executive director of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the issue of surrogacy “just about split the AASECT board years ago. They could not get consensus. Some people were strongly in favor and some worried about legal implications.” AASECT never adopted a formal policy one way or the other, but the debate itself relegated surrogacy to the shadows.
“There are people out there who do work with surrogates but they are a little below the horizon and that is unfortunate,” Ruppel said.
Susan Kaye, a therapist working in Philadelphia and Austin, Texas, works with surrogates “below the horizon” for a practical reason — she can’t even find certified surrogates in her areas. “I have gotten around it by working with people who are ‘body workers,’ people I have trained on what I want them to do with clients.” “Body work,” as Kaye defines it, excludes intercourse, but can include genital touching and genital massage.
“There are too few therapists trained to work with surrogates,” said Marilyn Lawrence, Ph.D., a Beverly Hills counselor who has used surrogates for 35 years, “and too few surrogates trained to work with therapists.”
Struggling with legality
The rationale for surrogates is simple, according to Lawrence. While patients with a regular sex partner can do therapy “homework,” single men and women, who, after all, might be single because they need sex therapy, don’t have study buddies. Even a partnered man or woman trying to work out a fetish, or someone who has been raped or assaulted and can’t stand being touched could use a surrogate.
As Kaye explained, “You can only sit across the desk for so long and tell them how to ride a bicycle until you have to give them the bicycle.”
Still, there have been no rigorous studies testing whether using a surrogate is any better than other forms of therapy. That, and the dubious legality of the practice, keeps surrogacy on the fringe.
Lawrence regards the legal issue as a red herring. In 35 years, neither she nor any of the surrogates she’s used have faced legal trouble, probably because most legitimate surrogates do not advertise and work only with men sent to them by mental health professionals.
Indeed, if Jane’s experience is any indication, men who try to use surrogates for easy, zipless sex in exchange for cash are seriously overpaying.
“I would say, of all the clients I’ve worked with, I have had intercourse with two,” she said.
“My favorite clients are the 40-year-old virgins,” she said. “Everybody is shocked, but there are a number of men out there who, for whatever reason, have not had many successful sexual experiences or none at all.”
Exactly what Jane does varies depending on the man’s needs. “I reintroduce people to their own bodies,” she explained. “It is close and intimate but not necessarily sexual. For example, for people with sexual trauma, it is important for them to know they can touch and be touched and not be in jeopardy.”
After every session, Jane reports back to the assigning therapist who uses the information in treating the patient. For some patients, Lawrence said, surrogacy may be the only method that works.
That’s why she is campaigning for the return of sexual surrogacy. “Look,” she said, “sometimes all somebody needs is literature. Sometimes they need basic sex ed, sometimes talk therapy. But sometimes people need a surrogate.”
By Brian Alexander
Sometimes surrogates and patients may do nothing more than hold hands and caress. “It is misunderstood,” Lawrence said. “It is not a contract for sex. It is a contract to work on a problem that requires intimacy skills.”
For example, Jane, who charges $150 per hour or $225 for 90 minutes, worked with a man whose Asperger’s syndrome caused him to misinterpret facial expressions. “He wanted to date and he was having difficulty making connections.” She has helped victims of sexual trauma, men with depression, erectile dysfunction and fetishes that limited sexual menus.