Drinking and learning while Black: The effect of family problem drinking on children’s later educational attainment
Researchers have long been interested in the ways that people and groups of people respond to various stressors. One of the groups most often studied is the family, as the family is arguably the most basic social unit of our society. Within the framework of family stress theory, scholars have uncovered a number of stressors (e.g., perceived neighborhood disorder, marital disruption, and economic hardship) that lead to an array of outcomes (Anderson, 2002; Elder, Liker, & Cross, 1984; Elder, Nguyen, & Capsi, 1985; Kotchick, Dorsey, & Heller, 2005; Mannino & Deutsch, 2007; McCubbin & Patterson, 1982; Wang & Amato, 2000). Oftentimes the outcome of interest involves the children of the family, one of the most protected populations in our society. The logic of family stress theory is that stressors are present in all families. In turn, families and the individuals in them have resources that help them deal with these stressors. Based on the stressor and the resources available, families and family members adapt in response to that stressor in order to try to maintain equilibrium in the family. The adaptation that occurs often results in negative outcomes for children, such as diminished psychological functioning, reduced health, and/or poorer academic performance. Thus, the presence of stressors in families results in children being labeled “at risk” (Nicolas et al., 2008).