Offspring of parents with gambling problems: Adjustment problems and explanatory mechanisms

  • Vitaro F
  • Wanner B
  • Brendgen M
 et al. 
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Abstract

We compared offspring of problem gamblers (n = 42) to offspring of parents without gambling problems (n = 100) to see (1) whether the two groups differed with respect to depressive feelings and conduct/antisociality problems and (2) whether ineffective parenting or the offspring's own gambling problems played a mediating role in this context. Participants were drawn from a relatively large community-based study (N = 1,872). Parents rated their own gambling and other mental health problems when their children were in mid-adolescence. The children's self-reports on depressive feelings and conduct/antisociality problems were assessed at two points in time: by mid-adolescence and again by early adulthood. Results showed that children of parents with gambling problems reported more depressive feelings and more conduct problems by mid-adolescence than children of parents without gambling problems. Children of problem gamblers also experienced an increase in their depressive symptoms from mid-adolescence to early adulthood. Importantly, ineffective parenting, but not children's gambling problems, mediated almost all the links between parental problem gambling and children's adjustment problems. These results add to a very small data base showing that children of problem gamblers are at risk for a variety of adjustment problems.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child adjustment problems
  • Community sample
  • Longitudinal study
  • Parental problem gambling
  • Parenting

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