Parental Drinking and Observations of Parent–Child Problem-Solving Discussions: Do Drinking Motives Matter?

Peggy S. Keller, Kyle P. Rawn, Julie C. Dunsmore, Michael Zvolensky, Mona El-Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alcohol is often used for emotion-regulation purposes, yet there has been little research on how emotion-regulation drinking motives relate to parenting. The present study addresses this gap by investigating possible interactions between parent drinking and drinking motives in the prediction of parenting and child affectivity during a problem-solving interaction. Participants included 199 two-parent families with a child between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Mothers and fathers self-reported their drinking and drinking motivations, and each parent separately took part in a 5-min parent–child problem-solving discussion about a topic that the parent identified as a frequent source of conflict. These discussions were later coded for parent rejection and coercion and child positive and negative affectivity. Father enhancement motives were independently related to father harsh parenting and indirectly related to lower child positive affect and greater child negative affect. Mother drinking to regulate positive and negative emotions interacted with mother drinking in association with mother harsh parenting, father harsh parenting, and child positive and negative affect during father–child interactions. Although the pattern of these interactions differed, the combination of mother greater drinking and coping or enhancement motives tended to have higher harsh parenting, child positive affect, and child negative affect. These findings indicate that parents’ emotion-regulation motives for drinking warrant greater attention from researchers to understand the impact of parent drinking on parenting and emotional development of children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1004
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association


  • child affect
  • drinking motives
  • parent drinking
  • parenting
  • problem-solving discussions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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