Alcohol consumption in parents of adolescents with externalizing behavior problems: The mediating role of parental emotional distress, and the moderating roles of relationship status and relationship satisfaction
Karch, Kathryn M.
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Child behavioral problems have a significant impact on the levels of distress experienced by parents. There is some evidence suggesting that in an effort to cope with this elevated distress, parents of children with externalizing behavior problems will consume more alcohol than parents of typical children. The aim of this study is to extend previous work examining the effect of child behavior problems on parental drinking using a community sample (N-387) and longitudinal design. It was hypothesized that the relationship between child behavioral problems and parental alcohol use would be mediated by parental emotional distress, and moderated by parent relationship status (e.g., single versus two parent families) and relationship satisfaction. Two moderated mediation path models were evaluated in MPlus. Contrary to expectations, there was no evidence for moderated mediation. Although not expected, support was found indicating that child externalizing behaviors at Time 1 were a statistically reliable predictor of parent alcohol use at Time 3 for single parents but not for parents in a relationship. For parents in a relationship, results suggested that parental emotional distress at Time 1 and Time 2 as a statistically reliable predictor of parental alcohol use at Time 3. This study highlights the complexity of self-medication models of alcohol use particularly for parents of children with behavioral problems. Future directions for studies aimed at understanding these complex relationships are discussed.