Can your children drive you to drink? Stress and parenting in adults interacting with children with ADHD

Alcohol Res Health. 1999;23(4):292-8.


Several publications in the psychological literature support the theory that children are a major source of stress for their parents. Not surprisingly, parents of children with behavior problems--particularly children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)--experience highly elevated levels of daily child-rearing stresses. Children with ADHD disregard parental requests, commands, and rules; fight with siblings; disturb neighbors; and have frequent negative encounters with schoolteachers and principals. Although may investigations have dealt with parenting stress caused by disruptive children, only a handful of studies have addressed the question of how parents cope with this stress. Those findings are presented, including a series of studies assessing parental distress and alcohol consumption among parents of normal children and ADHD children after the parents interacted with either normal- or deviant-behaving children. Those studies strongly support the assumption that the deviant child behaviors that represent major chronic interpersonal stressors for parents of ADHD children are associated with increased parental alcohol consumption. Studies also have demonstrated that parenting hassles may result in increased alcohol consumption in parents of "normal" children. Given these findings, the stress associated with parenting and its influence on parental alcohol consumption should occupy a salient position among the variables that are examined in the study of stress and alcohol problems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*