New research shows mothers of preschool children are drinking to cope with work-family conflict

New research from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at La Trobe University has found that mothers of preschool aged children who experience work-family conflict are drinking to cope with various stresses; this was not the case for fathers of preschool aged children.

A new study, Drinking to cope mediates the link between work-family conflict and alcohol use among mothers but not fathers of preschool children, by Sandra Kuntsche and Emmanuel Kuntsche, has been published in the Addictive Behaviours journal. It aimed to find out if work-family conflict motivates parents of young children to cope with various stresses by drinking alcohol.

The demands arising from the care of small children and the obligations of the workplace such as caring for a sick child and meeting work deadlines places competing demands on individuals, particularly parents of pre-schoolers. These challenges are more likely to occur when parents try to balance their parental role and work demands.

The study of 165 mothers and 144 fathers of pre-schoolers in Switzerland found that for mothers, coping with work-family conflict was a driver for drinking more than 4 drinks on a given occasion, and had some link to increased drinking per day. There was no such link found for fathers of pre-schoolers.

Lead researcher Dr Sandra Kuntsche said of the findings that, “mothers who drink to cope are at risk of excessive drinking, particularly when experiencing work and family conflict.”

“This puts them at risk of experiencing long-term health consequences when the stress of conflict is not adequately addressed.”
“Women who drink to cope should be provided with more support and non-drinking alternatives,” she said.

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