Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Peggy Keller


Harm reduction strategies can mitigate against some of the deleterious effects of alcohol on families. These strategies are most feasible and cost-effective when they can be targeted at those who are most at risk. Previous studies examining the relation between parents’ alcohol use and their children’s psychological adjustment have failed to consider important contextual questions such as drinking motives. The current investigation set out to identify the extent to which parents’ drinking motives predict internalizing and externalizing psychopathology in their children. The investigation consisted of cross sectional analysis of parents’ drinking motives and their children’s adjustment using data from 154 families recruited from the local community. Utilizing Bayesian data analytic techniques, we examined the role of parents’ drinking motives along with possible mediating variables including familial conflict, parental depression, and parenting style. Results showed that maternal social drinking motives were better predictors of children’s maladjustment than either coping or enhancement drinking motives. Unexpectedly, maternal enhancement drinking motives were associated with fewer adjustment problems. Maternal enhancement drinking motives also predicted higher levels of collaborative conflict resolution and lower levels of parental depression, both of which were associated with reduced levels of children’s externalizing problems. Paternal alcohol consumption and drinking motives were not associated with children’s internalizing or externalizing problems. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.