Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

J. Jill Suitor


This study focused on the daily interactions and home environments of 14 families with alcoholic fathers who were beginning primary treatment for their alcoholism. Data were collected by in-depth, face to face interviews with all family members. Social skills questionnaires administered to each child. Two specific family patterns were found to be associated with higher level social skills in children. First, father's frequent presence in the home, coupled with positive family interaction, was associated with children's high range social skills. Even in circumstances where violence existed, if the father was routinely at home and participated in positive family interactions, social skills scores did not fall below the middle range. However, when fathers did not participate in positive family interaction, violence was associated with lower social skills scores. Second, high family income was associated with higher children's social skills scores. These high incomes helped to offset the drain on personal resources produced by living with an alcoholic. High socioeconomic status allowed children to have experiences which were most likely to facilitate the development of positive social skills and provide positive role models outside the nuclear family. The children from high income families exhibited middle range social skills, despite the fact that some experienced family violence, and none had high levels of positive interaction with their fathers. Implications of these findings suggest that the characteristics which contribute to positive interaction in alcoholic families are the same as those which are necessary for the successful functioning of all families. Despite the existence of paternal alcoholism, these characteristics were present in some of the higher range families in the sample.