Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Effect of Parental Drinking on Adolescents

Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Effect of Parental Drinking on Adolescents

Article excerpt

Adolescence brings with it many biological, psychological, and social changes. Parents continue to play an important role in their children's development during this time. Parental problem drinking can adversely affect adolescent development and adjustment by interfering with parenting skills and marital relations. It also can lead parents to model ineffective coping strategies and other problem behaviors. Children with problem-drinking parents are at risk for alcohol and other drug use as well as for psychological problems. Protective factors, such as relatively stable patterns of family behavior around meals and holidays, can help offset the negative effects of parental drinking. KEY WORDS: problematic AOD use; parent; adolescent; parenting skills; parent child relations; parental attitude; marital conflict; family dynamics; victim of abuse; AODR (alcohol and other drug related) family problems; role model; coping skills; protective factors; intervention

Many biological, psychological, and social changes characterize the phase in the life span known as adolescence. These changes include the onset of puberty, an increased self-identity, the initiation of dating, and the development of intimate relationships. Early theories of adolescent development described this period as one of "storm and stress" with regard to parent-child relations (see, for example, Douvan and Adelson 1966). More recent research has indicated that adolescents confront a host of challenging and sometimes unique events. Although they frequently prefer to handle these challenges on their own, adolescents often view parents as significant confidants and social support agents in times of crises (see Petersen 1988). Hence, although parents and adolescents may disagree over specific issues, such as curfew or amount of allowance, parents continue to play a salient role in the development of adolescents, just as they do with infants and young children. Problem drinkingl by parents, however, may disrupt this emerging pattern of parent-adolescent relations and adversely affect adolescent development and adjustment in several ways. The following sections describe how parents' alcoholrelated problems may influence adolescent development. Although this brief article focuses on parental influences on children, a more comprehensive (and longer) article would include the reciprocal influences of children on parents as well as dynamic parent-child relations across time (see, for example, Windle and Tubman in press).

PARENTING SKILLS

Problem drinking by parents may negatively influence important parenting skills that serve to nurture and provide guidance for children. For example, problem drinking may contribute to inconsistency or unpredictability in parenting behaviors (see Holmes and Robins 1987). On some occasions, an adolescent's request to use the car may be met with verbal abuse by a parent; other times, the request may receive consideration and support. Under the influence of alcohol, some parents may become more (or less) tolerant of their child's failure to perform household tasks or permissive with regard to their child's consumption of alcoholic beverages. A range of research in related fields (e.g., on the relationship between maternal depression and child functioning) indicates that such inconsistency in parenting may undermine a child's sense of order, control, and stability in the family environment, reducing both feelings of self-esteem and perceptions of selfcompetence (for review, see Downey and Coyne 1990).

In addition to inconsistent and unpredictable parenting behaviors, parental alcohol abuse may contribute to poorer monitoring of adolescent behaviors. Parental monitoring includes establishing rules for appropriate and inappropriate behaviors for adolescents (e.g., drinking practices, curfew, and household responsibilities), consistently enforcing established penalties for violating the rules, and overseeing friendship and peer-group choices and leisure activities. …

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