Child Abuse & Neglect
Emerging research suggests that parents are experiencing heightened stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parental stress is a risk factor for harsh or punitive parenting, and this association may be exacerbated by the use of alcohol.
We examine whether parental stress is associated with use of punitive parenting, as well as whether this association is modified by drinking pattern.
Participants & setting
We used advertisements and word-of-mouth to recruit 342 parents living in Central Ohio during the initial stay-at-home order for COVID-19.
We used geographic ecological momentary assessment (gEMA) to measure parental stress and punitive parenting during three time periods (10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 9 p.m.) over a period of fourteen days using an app downloaded to their cellular telephone. Participants also completed a longer baseline survey. We used nested multilevel ordinal regression models, where at-the-moment assessments (Level 1) were nested within individuals (Level 2) to analyze data.
Higher levels of parental stress [OR = 1.149 (95 % CI = 1.123, 1.176)] and later time of day [OR = 1.255 (95 % CI = 1.146, 1.373)] were positively related to odds of punitive parenting. Drinking pattern was not significantly related to punitive parenting in models with demographic covariates. Parents who drank alcohol both monthly and weekly and had higher levels of stress had greater odds of punitive parenting than parents with high levels of stress who abstain from alcohol.
Alcohol may be an accelerant in the use of punitive parenting for parents experiencing stress. As alcohol use increases during COVID-19, children may be at higher risk for punitive parenting.
Child maltreatment, Alcohol use, Stress, COVID-19, Survey research
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Jennifer Price Wolf, Bridget Freisthler, and Caileigh Chadwick. "Stress, alcohol use, and punitive parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic" Child Abuse & Neglect (2021). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2021.105090
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