Objective: The purpose of this study was to test a conceptual model predicting children's anxiety/depression in middle childhood in a community sample of children with parents who had alcohol problems (n = 112) and those without alcohol problems (n = 101). The conceptual model examined the role of parents' alcohol diagnoses, depression, and antisocial behavior among parents of children ages 12 months to kindergarten age in predicting marital aggression and parental aggravation. Higher levels of marital aggression and parental aggravation were hypothesized to predict children's depression/anxiety within time (18 months to kindergarten age and, prospectively, to age during fourth grade). Method: The sample was recruited from New York State birth records when the children were 12 months old. Assessments were conducted at 12, 18, 24, and 36 months; at kindergarten age; and during fourth grade. Results: Children with alcoholic fathers had higher depression/anxiety scores according to parental reports but not self-reports. Structural equations modeling was largely supportive of the conceptual model. Fathers' alcoholism was associated with higher child anxiety via greater levels of marital aggression among families with alcohol problems. Results also indicated that there was a signifi cant indirect association between parents' depression symptoms and child anxiety via marital aggression. Conclusions: The results highlight the nested nature of risk characteristics in alcoholic families and the important role of marital aggression in predicting children's anxiety/depression. Interventions targeting both parents' alcohol problems and associated marital aggression are likely to provide the dual benefits of improving family interactions and lowering risk of children's internalizing behavior problems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Psychiatry and Mental health