Maternal mental health has become an increasingly common area of study, as researchers work to determine how postpartum depression impacts child development, yet there are few studies dedicated to exploring how paternal mental health influences a child’s well-being. However, according to one new study, these two facets are intimately inked, as quality of co-parenting relationships has a powerful impact on child growth.
Not only do fathers who are sensitive and supportive raise children who develop superior social skills and language, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity, but also those who experience mental illness raise children who are at higher risk of behavioral and emotional difficulties.
According to research conducted by the Parenting Research Centre, which examined the mental health of fathers in Australia, 18 percent reported experiencing symptoms of depression and 19 percent claimed they’d experienced symptoms of anxiety since becoming a parent. Of those fathers who experience depression symptoms after birth, 9 percent said this included post-natal depression and 3 percent had serious levels of current psychological distress.
Derived from the earlier “Parenting Today In Victoria” study, which polled 2,600 Australian parents – 40 percent of whom were men – researchers wanted to understand how a father’s mindset impacts his parenting abilities and how that, in turn, influences their child.
“We wanted to understand the particular parenting behaviors, strengths and needs of fathers, and we wanted to know which characteristics of fathers – like mental health – related to how fathers parent,” researchers said. “We were also interested in how fathers sought help and advice about parenting. This has implications for how information about what works in parenting could be successfully targeted to dads.”
“We know that fathers who are sensitive and supportive have children who develop better social skills and language — and…