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Parental Alcohol Use Disorders and Child Delinquency: The Mediating Effects of Executive Functioning and Chronic Family Stress

Emily R. Grekin, Patricia A. Brennan, Constance Hammen

Objective: This study examines the relationship between parental alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and child violent and nonviolent delinquency. It also explores the mediating effects of executive functioning and chronic family stress on the parental AUD/child delinquency relationship. Method: Participants were 816 families with children (414 boys and 402 girls) born between 1981 and 1984 at Mater Misericordiae Motherís Hospital in Brisbane, Australia. Parents and children completed semistructured interviews, questionnaires and neuropsychological tests that assessed parental alcohol use, family psychiatric history, chronic family stress, child delinquency and child executive functioning. Results: Paternal (but not maternal) AUDs predicted child violent and nonviolent delinquency. Executive functioning mediated the relationship between paternal AUDs and violent delinquency, whereas family stress mediated the relationship between paternal AUDs and both violent and nonviolent delinquency. Conclusions: Results support a biosocial conceptualization of the paternal AUD/delinquency relationship. They suggest that paternal AUDs may be associated with child executive functioning and family stress, which may in turn lead to child delinquency. (J. Stud. Alcohol 66: 14-22, 2005)