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Parents Of School-Aged Kids Drinking More During COVID-19 Pandemic, Maryland Researchers Find

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- New research suggests parents of school-aged kids are drinking more during the pandemic, Maryland researchers found.

Their research suggests the stress of parents teaching or assisting their kids with distance learning may be driving some into unhealthy habits.

Baltimore parent Dan Brown recalled the stress the pandemic has placed on his family.

"We're both working from home and the kids are not going anywhere anytime soon," he told WJZ while on a walk with his twin girls in Patterson Park on Monday.

"Parents of only children, I definitely see the strains," he said. "It's just pent-up energy for the parents, I guess, as well."

Another parent-child pairing quarantining together happens to be the research team of Elyse Grossman and Susan Sonnenschein. The duo surveyed hundreds of parents during the pandemic and found people are drinking more now than before COVID-19.

Drinking alcohol suppresses the immune system, making people more vulnerable to fighting off a virus.

"They also showed significant increases as far as how much people are consuming," Grossman, a policy fellow at Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health, said.


More concerning, they said, were their findings that parents are engaging in more risky behavior like binge drinking. Parents are twice as likely, research showed, to be stressed because of distance learning.

"The parents of elementary school-aged children are doing a lot of actual teaching," Sonnenschein said.

Sonnenschein, a child development professor with the University of Maryland Baltimore County, said they're still sorting out whether that's a stressor that leads to increased drinking.

Grossman studies public policy and said she hopes more time to prepare for distance learning takes some of the learning pressure off parents this fall.

"We need the school systems to provide guidance to the teachers to then provide guidance to the parents," she said.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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