This study aims to increase understanding of the relationship between heavy episodic drinking (HED) and fathers' involvement in parenting in five countries. The potential moderating effect of fathers' experiences of childhood trauma is also studied, controlling for the possible confounding of the effect of HED by father's attitudes toward gender equality, father's age and father's education.
United Nations Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence (UNMCS) survey data from 4562 fathers aged 18–49 years from Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Sri Lanka were used to assess the relationship between fathering involvement (e.g., helping children with their homework) and self-reported HED of 6+ drinks in one occasion vs. non-HED and abstaining. Moderating effects of a 13-item fathers' childhood trauma (FCT) scale were tested and analyses were adjusted for gender-inequitable attitudes using the Gender-Equitable Men scale score. Bivariate and adjusted individual participant meta-analyses were used to determine effect estimates for each site and across all sites.
Fathers' HED was associated with less positive parental involvement after adjusting for gender-equitable attitudes, FCT, age and education. No overall interaction between HED and FCT was identified. Gender equitable attitudes were associated with fathering involvement in some countries but not overall (p = 0.07).
Heavy episodic drinking was associated with reduced positive fathering involvement. These findings suggest that interventions to increase fathers' involvement in parenting should include targeting reductions in fathers' HED. Structural barriers to fathers' involvement should be considered alongside HED in future studies of fathers' engagement with their children.