The Effects of Recent Parental Divorce on Their Children's Consumption of Alcohol
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This study tests whether children whose parents were recently divorced (within the past 4 years) were more likely to consume alcohol frequently and/or in large quantities, than their counterparts in single-parent divorced families whose parents had been divorced 4 years or more. Several researchers have argued that divorce has a greater impact on children during the first few years following a divorce (Hetherington, E. M. (1999). In Hetherington, E. M. (ed.), Coping with Divorce, Single Parenting, and Remarriage. Erlbaum, Mahweh, New Jersy, pp. 93–116; Hetherington, E. M., Stanley-Hagan, M., and Anderson, E. R. (1989). Am. Psychol. 44: 303–312). Other researchers have argued that the effects of divorce are longer lasting than just a few years (Wallerstein, J. S. and Lewis, J. (1998). Fom. Conciliation Courts Rev. 36: 368–383) (1998). If the former hypothesis is correct, one would expect that children whose parents had recently divorced would drink more frequently and in greater quantities than those children from single-parent homes whose parents had been divorced 4 years or more. Using the NELS 1988–1992 data set, the alcohol drinking habits of children, whose parents had divorced during the 1988–1992 period, were compared with the drinking habits of children whose parents had been divorced previous to that time. The results showed moderate support for both hypotheses. Children from recently divorced homes showed no tendency to drink alcohol more frequently than their counterparts whose parents had been divorced 4 years or more, either during their entire lifetime or the 30-day and 1-year period prior to the questioning. Nevertheless, children whose parents had recently been divorced were more likely to drink alcohol in greater quantities more frequently and were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol, while at school. Both groups of students exceeded the alcoholic intake of children from intact families on all measures. The significance of these results is discussed.
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