An Enquiry into the Personal Maladjustment Pattern Among Children of Alcoholic Parents

Alcoholism is matter of serious concern, not confined to any group, culture or country. Universally it creates professional, social, financial, legal, medical, psychological, and familial problems. The cost of alcoholism to the society is staggering by any calculations. Lost working days, accidents and related disability, family disrupts and resulting juvenile problems, and direct medical complications of alcohol abuse add up to a significant proportion of loss to nations” economy and well being. Alcoholism thus becomes a complex phenomenon deserving attention from deferent angles.

Problem drinking within a family can lead to many types of stress and hard ships for family members. Increasing social isolation due to alcoholism is difficult for children to cope up. They behave increasingly withdrawn form peer group activities. Financial hardships become a factor and reductions are made to general standard of living. Physical hardships are seen either violence towards family members or in destruction of household things.

Family members especially spouse may be subjected to emotional deprivation and may perceive drinking as a form of rejection. This in turn causes the drinker to become increasingly preoccupied and plays a diminished role in family life and affairs.

Glassner and Loughlin (1987) emphasised on three aspects of parent-child relationships that are studied in alcoholics” families; basic care, consistency of expectations, and communications. Children find it difficult to cope with parental unpredictability or with unexplained withdrawal and sudden change in mood and temperament.

Children may suffer from physical and emotional neglect. Since all the family’s energies are focused on the drinker, children are often neglected and their individual contributions go unacknowledged. This may result in acting out behavior, aggression, bed- wetting, taunting, anxiety, withdrawal and isolation that in turn can increase the pressure on non-drinking parents. Another important problem is that children of alcoholics lack a satisfactory role model for their own behavior. Hence, the children represent an important high-risk group both because of their proneness to problem drinking during child hood and their proneness to problems in later life. Hence, the tragedy of alcoholism lies in its detrimental effects on future generation. Alcoholism of the individual affects not only the family but also even the basic fabric of the society. Alcohol causes poverty leading to crimes and prostitution that in turn ends up in the break down of any society’s integrity and existence.

Studies have reveled that alcoholics” families acquire certain typical coping strategies within the family system (Orford et. al 1975). Children take up age inappropriate activities to maintain the domestic harmony, become a support to the non-drinking parent, and hence exposed to moral, emotional, and financial dilemmas not appropriate to their age, experience or understanding. This invariably evokes further stress, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawnness and depression in alcoholics. Thus, a vicious cycle of alcohol, stress and maladjustment is found to exist.

The present study therefore attempts to investigate the nature of Maladjustment among the children of alcoholic parents


The central theme of the present investigation is to study the nature of maladjustment among children of alcoholics. Based on available literature and discussion with experts in this field, following objectives were formulated before starting the study.

1 To find out maladjustment among children of alcoholics.

2 To find out whether male and female children of alcoholics vary on maladjustment.

3 To find out whether first child of alcoholics score high on maladjustment compared to other siblings.


H1 1. There is significant deference between children of alcoholics and children from normal family on maladjustment.

H1 2. There is significant deference between male and female children of alcoholics on maladjustment

H1 3. There is significant deference between first children of alcoholics and their siblings on maladjustment


The present study is designed to investigate the nature of Maladjustment among the children of alcoholic parents.


Proposed sample of the study includes 400 children from deferent parts of Kerala. Out of the 400 children, 300 are from alcoholics” families and the rest 100 from normal families who serve as control group.


Mathew maladjustment inventory

Mathew maladjustment inventory assesses five major aspects of maladjustment viz., anxiety, depression, mania, inferiority, and paranoia. The test is reported to have high degree of content validity. The coefficient of reliability (split half) of the subscales ranged from 0.6 to 0.9, the total score having a reliability of 0.9 (Mathew, 1975)


2 x 2 Factorial design with experimental and control groups on one axis and male and female on the other axis .The four groups to be tested on deferent aspects of maladjustments.


2 x 2 ANOVA for independent groups to be conducted for analysis of gathered data.

Other suitable statistical techniques will be used for further analysis


Glassner, B and Loughlin, B. Drugs in Adolescent Worlds: Burnout to straight, London: Macmillan Press, 1987.

Mathew, V.G, Manual of Mathew Maladjustment Inventory, Department of Psychology, University of Kerala, 1975.

Orford, J, Guthrie, S, Nicholls, P, Oppenheimer, E, Egert, S, and Hensman, C, Self reported coping behaviour of wives of alcoholics and its association with drinking out come. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1975, 36-1254-67

Source by Dr. Hari S. Chandran

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