Attachment to parents as mediator and/or moderator of psychosocial functioning among young adults with alcoholic fathers
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractRelations between current paternal drinking status, attachment to parents, and psychosocial functioning were examined to determine whether previously reported findings on children of alcoholics were replicated, and to evaluate perceived attachment to parents as a mediator and/or moderator of adult children's adjustment. One hundred thirty-eight college students under age 23, 66% female, 80% White, 49% with alcoholic fathers and all with non-problem-drinking mothers, completed self-report measures of parental drinking status, security of attachment to parents, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, adult attachment style, alcohol involvement, and drug use. Most subjects scored in normal ranges for anxiety and depression, were moderate drinkers, and reported little drug use. Subjects with alcoholic fathers reported lower self-esteem and less-secure attachment to father; they also more frequently reported that their father's parenting style was inconsistent, and less frequently reported that it was responsive. With psychosocial functioning variables hierarchically regressed on demographics, paternal drinking status, attachment to father, and attachment to mother, paternal alcoholism added to prediction of only self-esteem, attachment to father improved prediction of secure adult attachment style rating, and attachment to mother added to prediction of mental health, self-esteem, adult attachment, and alcohol use. In separate tests of statistical mediation, results are consistent with the role of attachment to father as a mediator of the relation between paternal alcoholism and both mental health and security of adult attachment style, and with attachment to mother as a mediator of the relation between paternal alcoholism and mental health, self-esteem, and adult attachment. Neither security of attachment to father nor to mother was a linear moderator of statistical relations between paternal alcoholism and psychosocial adjustment; thus results did not support a buffering hypothesis. Findings warrant caution against assumption of psychopathology in alcoholics' children; most function within normal ranges on multiple measures. Knowledge of paternal alcoholism is, alone, a poor predictor of psychosocial adjustment; knowledge of the child's perception of parent-child relationships, particularly attachment to mother, appears to have relatively greater predictive utility. Future research should include replication with a population not limited to college students.
Degree ProgramGraduate College