Sunday, August 26, 2007

When Mom's Depressed, Dad Can Help Kids Stay Healthy

news you may not knowDads Can Help...

Moms have a huge influence on their children. And, usually, that's a good thing. But, what happens when mom is seriously depressed? When she's doing all she can just to keep her own head above water, and has little time or energy to devote to the kids?

Studies show that children whose mothers suffer from major depression are at an increased risk for multiple emotional problems themselves. The potential emotional difficulties cover a broad range, including depression, aggression, hyperactivity, and anxiety.

"My study corroborates findings from previous research that a child is at increased risk of problem behaviors when the mother is depressed," said Jen Jen Chang, Ph.D., of Saint Louis University School of Public Health. Dr. Chang recently reported the results of her study on the role of fathers in household with depressed mothers.

There is some good news.

Dr. Chang found that children of depressed moms do better when fathers are actively involved. This is welcome news - it's unusual to read much these days that touts the positive role of dads. She assessed the dad's involvement by asking the children a series of questions about their interaction with their dad. She asked if dad talked over important decisions with them, listened to their side in arguments, knew where they were when they were away from home, and other questions.

"Once we factored in a father's positive involvement, I observed that the adverse impact of the mother's depression was attenuated," said Dr. Chang. "The father served as a buffer."

Though a fully functional and healthy family is ideal, this is still very good news.

So, dads, step on up. You've been recast from the role of bumbling dolt to that of effective guide and caregiver. Get busy...

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about being an effective dad, see this from the National Fatherhood Initiative.

4 Comments:

Blogger Sylvia C. said...

Tim,

Thanks for this report. I think we need much more father-involvement, and I know this would be one way to start.

Dads play such a big role, and I love, love, love it when I see active fathers at the school where I work. It really comes out in the child.

Great post!

truly,

Sylvia C.

5:51 PM  
Blogger tim said...

Sylvia C:

Thanks for the comments - especially from your new perspective as a teacher. I'm heartened to hear that active fathers do make a difference.

Have a great day,

tim

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's hardly anything these days that's positive about dads? Then why are so many people arguing that me and my female partner can't POSSIBLY be effective parents, since neither of us would be called "Dad" and having a parent named "Dad" is totally essential to healthy child development?

10:16 AM  
Blogger tim said...

Anonymous:

Ah... it's often a matter of perspective, huh?

Mine is that dads often get cast as bumblers with little to contribute - more the source of, than the solution to, problems.

So, I'm always glad to see reports speaking of the positive impact dads can have on their kids.

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments,

tim

12:24 PM  

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