Miller, Brenda A.
; Mudar, Pamela J.; and Smyth, Nancy J. Journal of Studies on Alcohol
, vol. 60, pgs. 632-642 (1999)Objective: The relationship between mothers' alcohol or other drug (AOD) problems and their punitiveness toward their children is examined in this study.
Method: Women (N = 170) were recruited from five different sources, including clinical interventions and the community. Women's punitiveness toward their children was assessed by three different maternal self-report measures: Conflict Tactics Scale, Parental Punitiveness Scale and Child Abuse Potential Inventory. Women's histories of AOD problems, violent victimization and hostility were assessed using standardized assessment tools.
Results: Women were categorized by their AOD problems as follows: current problem (22.4%), past only problem (44.7%) or no problems (32.9%). Results indicate that mothers with current or past AOD problems are more punitive toward their children, controlling for potentially confounding demographic factors. Mothers' histories of partner violence and parental violence also predicted higher levels of mother-to-child punitiveness. However, histories of childhood sexual abuse predicted lower levels of mothers' punitiveness. Hostility served as a predictor of mothers' punitiveness and moderated some of the relationships between their AOD problems and their punitiveness.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that women with AOD problems are more likely to be punitive toward their children, but other factors may also contribute to this risk. Treatment and prevention interventions need to be developed to decrease the risk of violent victimization among children whose mothers have alcohol and other drug problems.