Families represent a significant context for children's socioemotional development. Using survey and observational data from the ongoing Family Life Project (NIH/NICHD 1 P01 HD 039667-01A1), the proposed study will examine the associations between parent's heavy alcohol use and violent behaviors on child conduct disorders, determine whether father's risky behaviors are associated with increased gatekeeping behaviors by mothers and whether maternal gatekeeping provides a protective buffer for children. The study directly addresses gaps in our understanding of family systems in high risk environments. The primary goal of the proposed training plan is to allow the investigator to develop expertise in family processes within high risk environments by examining the network of relationships in which a family is embedded. This study uses data from the Family Life Project, a longitudinal, multi-method, population-based study of family processes among economically disadvantaged families living in nonurban areas. Preliminary analyses will include examining intercorrelations between all study variables. Confirmatory factor analyses will be used to construct all latent variables used in further analyses. Structural equation models (SEM) will be estimated, in which paternal alcohol use at 24 months and father's violent behavior will be used to determine the associations between fathers'alcohol use and violent behaviors and maternal gatekeeping at first grade. An SEM model will also be estimated, in which father's fathers'alcohol use and violent behavior will be used to predict both paternal parenting behaviors at 58 months and child conduct disorders when the child is in first grade and the moderating role of maternal gatekeeping plays in these associations. Both the direct and indirect pathways by which fathers'risky behavior may influence child development will be examined. The proposed training plan is designed to provide the fellow with the skills necessary to build a program of research that will allow for closer examination of these associations longitudinally in order to model the relations between the pattern of fathers'alcohol use and violent behavior over time and the development of child conduct problems.
Heavy alcohol use has been linked to a range of indicators of poor parenting including less responsiveness to infants, greater impulsivity, and child maltreatment. The proposed research aims to understand the associations between fathers'and mothers'heavy alcohol use and violent behavior on family functioning. More specifically, this study will examine the role that mothers may play to provide a protective buffer against the adverse effects of father's risky behaviors on children's development of conduct problems.