Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 335–346 | Cite as

Disaggregating the Distal, Proximal, and Time-Varying Effects of Parent Alcoholism on Children’s Internalizing Symptoms

  • A. M. HussongEmail author
  • L. Cai
  • P. J. Curran
  • D. B. Flora
  • L. A. Chassin
  • R. A. Zucker


We tested whether children show greater internalizing symptoms when their parents are actively abusing alcohol. In an integrative data analysis, we combined observations over ages 2 through 17 from two longitudinal studies of children of alcoholic parents and matched controls recruited from the community. Using a mixed modeling approach, we tested whether children showed elevated mother- and child-reported internalizing symptoms (a) at the same time that parents showed alcohol-related consequences (time-varying effects), (b) if parents showed greater alcohol-related consequences during the study period (proximal effects), and (c) if parents had a lifetime diagnosis of alcoholism that predated the study period (distal effects). No support for time-varying effects was found; proximal effects of mothers’ alcohol-related consequences on child-reported internalizing symptoms were found and distal effects of mother and father alcoholism predicted greater internalizing symptoms among children of alcoholic parents. Implications for the time-embedded relations between parent alcoholism and children’s internalizing symptoms are discussed.


Parent alcoholism Internalizing symptoms Integrative data analysis Intergenerational transmission Time-varying effects 



This work was supported by grant R01 DA15398 to AMH and R01 DA013148 to PJC. The work was also supported by grant R37 AA 07065 to RAZ and grant R01 AA16213 to LAC. This work was completed while AMH and PJC were visiting faculty at the Centre for Addictions Research in BC, University of Victoria, British Columbia. We thank the many individuals at the Centre and the University for their generous support of our work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Hussong
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Cai
    • 1
  • P. J. Curran
    • 1
  • D. B. Flora
    • 2
  • L. A. Chassin
    • 3
  • R. A. Zucker
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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