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Transmission of Neglect in Substance Abuse Families: The Role of Child Dysregulation and Parental SUD

NCJ Number
Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Dated: 2001 Pages: 123-132
Marija G. Dunn; Ada Mezzich; Susan Janiszewski; Levent Kirisci; Ralph E. Tarter
Date Published
10 pages
This study examined the effect of child dysregulation and parental substance use disorder (SUD) in a cross-generational transmission model of child neglect.
Studies have not been undertaken that examine the interactive effects of parent and child characteristics on neglect in substance use disorder (SUD) families. Most of the research on maltreatment in SUD families has focused on detailing maternal neglect. Little is known about the effect of paternal neglect. In addition, parental childhood history has not been examined with respect to its influence on neglectful parenting and its association and interaction with the child’s psychological characteristics on neglect and parental SUD. This study was framed within an ecological transactional structure of maltreatment. The goal of this study was to determine the moderating effects, if any, of psychological dysregulation in the child and parental SUD on associations between the parents’ experienced history of childhood neglect and neglect of their own children. The hypothesis is that childhood neglect experienced by parents is related to their neglectful parenting moderated by psychological dysregulation in the child and by parental SUD. The sample consisted of 156 families. Paternal and maternal models of transmission of child neglect were tested separately in 10- to 12-year-old offspring of men with a substance use disorder and psychiatrically normal men. While the paternal model was not confirmed, it was found that a history of childhood neglect in the mother was related to severity of neglect of her children. In particular, severity of neglectful parenting in the mother was related with her history of childhood neglect. The relationship was moderated by the child’s severity of psychological dysregulation and lifetime SUD in the mother. These findings supported the mounting evidence that the cross-generational transmission of child neglect was exacerbated by the maternal SUD. The findings on the moderating effect of child psychological dysregulation on severity of maternal neglect were consistent with evidence documenting the child’s effect on parenting competence. Thus, in the framework of maternal SUD, psychological dysregulation in the child exacerbates the relationship between history of neglect in the mother and severity of her neglectful parenting. Tables, references