The role of marital discord and parenting in relations between parental problem drinking and child adjustment


E. Mark Cummings, Department of Psychology, Haggar Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA; Tel: (574) 631-3404; Fax: (574) 631-8883; Email:


Background:  Research suggests that children exposed to parental drinking problems are at risk for maladjustment. However, the potential impact of drinking problems in a community sample and the processes involved in the relationship between parental drinking and child outcomes have rarely been examined.

Method:  A community sample of 235 mothers and fathers of kindergarten children completed measures of problem drinking symptoms, family functioning and child adjustment.

Results:  Model tests indicate that problem drinking was associated with greater marital conflict, and that marital conflict was related to ineffective parenting which was in turn related to poorer child adjustment.

Conclusions:  Even in a community sample, parental problem drinking behaviors are associated with reduced family functioning that relates to child outcomes.