Mothers of preschoolers are increasingly turning to alcohol to cope, La Trobe finds

Mothers of preschoolers are increasingly turning to alcohol to cope, La Trobe finds

by Freya Lucas

October 30, 2020

Mothers of preschool aged children who experience challenges managing work-family conflict are increasingly turning to alcohol as a way of coping with various stressors, something which is not the case for fathers of children of the same age. 


Conducted by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at La Trobe University, the Drinking to cope mediates the link between work-family conflict and alcohol use among mothers but not fathers of preschool children study, managed by Sandra Kuntsche and Emmanuel Kuntsche, was recently published in the Addictive Behaviours journal


The initial aims of the study were to find out if work-family conflict motivates parents of young children to cope with various stresses by drinking alcohol, and to learn more about the  demands arising from the care of small children and the obligations of the workplace. 


Competing demands of the workplace intersecting with dynamic parenting needs, the authors found, places competing demands on individuals, particularly parents of preschoolers, and these challenges are more likely to occur for mothers. 


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


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


Such coping mechanisms place mothers at risk of experiencing long-term health consequences when the stress of conflict is not adequately addressed, she said. 


To access the findings, please see here