It’s well established that a mother’s postpartum depression can have lasting effects on her children’s academic and social growth, anda decline in a father’s mental health can cause similar problems for his children.
The study, published online this month in the journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, followed about 200 couples with 3- to 4-year-olds who had participated in a previous study of postpartum depression.
The researchers found that children of fathers who were depressed in the first year were more likely to show negative behaviors, including hitting, lying, anxiety, and sadness. Moreover, having a depressed parent (either mom or dad) was a stronger predictor of a toddler showing bad behaviors than parent fighting was. The study is part of a growing move to include fathers in evaluating the effects of parental support and involvement.
A version of this article appeared in the March 25, 2015 edition of Education Week as Early Childhood