Parental Problem Drinking and Adolescent Psychosocial Adjustment: The Mediating Role of Adolescent–Parent Communication


  • This research was funded by National Institutes of Health Grant K01AA015059 to Christine McCauley Ohannessian.

  • I am thankful for the participation of the high schools and the adolescents attending those schools. Special thanks go to the Adolescent Adjustment Project (AAP) staff who kept the project running smoothly: Kelly Cheeseman, Alyson Cavanaugh, Ashley Malooly, Lisa Fong, Sara Bergamo, Elizabeth Lewis, Ashley Ings, and Juliet Bradley.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Christine McCauley Ohannessian, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Delaware, 113 Pearson Hall, Newark, DE 19716. E-mail:


This study explored the relations between parental problem drinking, adolescent–parent communication, and adolescent psychosocial adjustment. Surveys were administered to a diverse sample of 683 15–17-years-old adolescents in the spring of 2007 and again in the spring of 2008. Results indicated that paternal problem drinking directly predicted substance use (alcohol and drug use) for boys, but not for girls. In contrast, maternal problem drinking directly predicted substance use (drug use) for girls, but not for boys. Adolescent–parent communication also mediated the relationship between parental problem drinking and psychosocial adjustment for girls, but not for boys. These gender differences highlight the need to consider both the gender of the adolescent and the parent when examining parental problem drinking and adolescent adjustment.