Effects of Observable Parent Alcohol Consequences and Parent Alcohol Disorder on Adolescent Alcohol Expectancies

Jack T. Waddell, Austin J. Blake, Ariel Sternberg, Ariana Ruof, Laurie Chassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Parental drinking and parent alcohol use disorder (AUD) are known predictors of adolescent positive alcohol expectancies, but their link to negative expectancies is unclear. Research suggests that parent drinking may indirectly predict adolescent expectancies through exposure to parental drinking events. However, exposure to parent negative alcohol consequences may be more relevant to adolescents’ expectancies. The present study tested the mediating effect of parent observable negative alcohol consequences in the association between parent AUD and adolescent expectancies. Methods: This study used parent and adolescent data from the Adult and Family Development Project. A total of 581 adolescents reported on their alcohol expectancies across 2 waves of data, and their parents reported on potentially observable alcohol-related negative consequences during the first wave. Past-year and lifetime parent AUD were assessed with diagnostic interviews across 6 waves of data. Results: Mothers’ observable consequences mediated the effect of her past-year AUD on adolescent negative expectancies in adolescence, but this effect did not hold at a 1.5-year follow-up. Mothers’ lifetime AUD was the only prospective predictor of later adolescent negative expectancies. No father drinking variables predicted expectancies, and all models were invariant across child biological sex. Finally, older adolescent age prospectively predicted higher positive expectancies, whereas the adolescents’ own drinking predicted lower negative expectancies. Conclusions: These findings, in line with other recent studies, suggest that exposure to mothers’ negative experiences with alcohol may counterintuitively normalize negative alcohol effects. This may paradoxically increase risk for adolescents rather than buffering the effects of a family history of parental AUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-982
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Alcohol Expectancies
  • Family History
  • Negative Consequences
  • Parent AUD
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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