Paternal alcoholism, parental psychopathology, and aggravation with infants

J Subst Abuse. 2000;11(1):17-29. doi: 10.1016/s0899-3289(99)00016-4.


The purpose of this study was to examine the role of paternal alcohol problems, antisocial behavior, and depression in predicting parental attitudes toward their 12-month-old infants. Families were recruited from birth records and the final sample consisted of 216 families, 101 in the control group and 115 families with alcoholic fathers (92 with light drinking partners and 23 with heavy drinking partners). Results indicated that fathers' alcoholism was associated with higher paternal aggravation with the infant. Further, fathers' depression mediated the relationship between fathers' current alcohol problems and aggravation. Fathers' alcoholism was indirectly associated with maternal aggravation and warmth through the relationship with maternal antisocial behavior and depression. Results suggest that at least during early infancy, parental psychopathology associated with fathers' alcohol problems may play a more important role in predicting parental attitudes toward their infants than alcoholism per se. Results are further discussed in terms of their implications for parenting and later development among infants of alcoholics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personality Development
  • Risk Factors