Prospective-longitudinal associations of parental alcohol use problems and parental warmth with anxiety and depression from early to late adolescence
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An estimated 7.5 million children younger than the age of 18 years live with a parent who had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past year. Research in this area is crucial since children of alcoholics are at risk for a variety of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social, and mental health problems from childhood to adulthood. Most studies have focused on examining clinically diagnosed parental AUD and outcomes related to adolescent drinking behavior, but less is known about other patterns of parental alcohol use and its association with internalizing psychopathology such as anxiety and depression. Moreover, protective factors such as positive parenting behaviors that may influence the association between parental drinking and child outcomes remain unclear. Thus, the primary purpose of the current study was to investigate the moderating role of parental warmth in prospective-longitudinal associations of parental alcohol problems with offspring anxiety and depression from early to late adolescence. Another major goal was to examine the direct between- and within-family effects of parental alcohol problems and parental warmth on adolescent anxiety and depression over time. Participants included adolescent boys and girls followed from the mean ages of 14 to 18 years and their biological parents (mothers and fathers) from an intergenerational sample of families from the Iowa Youth and Families Project. The hypothesized three-way interactions between parental warmth, parental alcohol problems, and time in relation to adolescent anxiety and depression were not supported. However, there were main effects of time, time-varying parental warmth (at the within-person level), and aggregated parental warmth (at the between-persons level) on adolescent anxiety and depression. Theoretical and clinical implications of the findings as well as future directions for research are discussed.