Maternal depressive symptoms as a predictor of alcohol use onset and heavy episodic drinking in youths.
The current study addressed a gap in the literature by investigating the association between maternal depressive symptoms and subsequent timing of their children's alcohol use onset and heavy episodic drinking (HED). Childhood depression/dysthymia symptoms, harsh discipline, and parental positive regard were examined as potential mediators of this relation.Longitudinal self- and parent-report data were collected annually from a community sample of 754 youths (50% male; 43% African American) from kindergarten to Grade 11 (ages 5-18 years). The measures administered were the Things That You Have Done scale (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group [CPPRG], 1995a) and the Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs measure (CPPRG, 1995b), which assessed alcohol use behaviors; the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (Radloff, 1977); the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (Costello, Edelbrock, & Costello, 1985); and the Parental Discipline Scale (CPPRG, 1994).Maternal depressive symptoms significantly predicted an earlier onset of alcohol use and HED in youths. Harsh parental discipline mediated the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and alcohol use onset as hypothesized; however, childhood depressive/dysthymia symptoms and parental positive regard did not. In the parallel analyses testing the 3 potential mediating variables in the prediction of HED, no significant mediation was found.These findings suggest the importance of intervening to prevent early and risky alcohol use among youths who have been identified as having a mother who is clinically depressed or is experiencing depressive symptoms; part of this intervention effort could involve working with depressed mothers to reduce their use of harsh discipline. These improved intervention and prevention strategies could have important implications for reducing the occurrence and early initiation of alcohol use and HED among at-risk youths.
Lamis, DA; Malone, PS; Lansford, JE; Lochman, JE
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