Objective: This article examines the association between fathers' alcohol problems and children's effortful control during the transition from middle childhood to early adolescence (fourth to sixth grade). Additionally, we examined the role of two potential moderators of this association, fathers' antisocial behavior and child gender. Method: The sample consisted of 197 families (102 nonalcoholic [NA]; 95 father alcoholic [FA], in which only the father met diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence). The sample was recruited from New York State birth records when the children were 12 months old. This analysis focused on 12-month alcohol problem data and child effortful control data measured in the fourth and sixth grades. Results: Structural equation modeling revealed that FA status was associated with lower effortful control on the Stroop Color and Word and Tower of London tasks in the sixth grade, but antisocial behavior did not moderate this association. Multiple group analysis revealed that FA status was associated with higher Stroop interference scores in fourth and sixth grade and lower move scores on the Tower of London task for boys but not girls. Conclusions: The association between FA status and effortful control may be attenuated in middle childhood (fourth grade) but emerge again in early adolescence (sixth grade). The results indicate that sons of alcoholics may be particularly vulnerable to poor self-regulatory strategies and that early adolescence may be an important time for intervening with these families to facilitate higher self-regulation before the transition to high school.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Psychiatry and Mental health