Fathers' Negative Parenting Behavior Linked to Depression

Depressed fathers less likely to read to their 1-year-olds and more likely to spank them

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Depressed fathers are less likely to demonstrate positive parental behavior toward their 1-year-old children, and more likely to display negative parenting behavior, according to a study published online March 14 in Pediatrics.

R. Neal Davis, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the associations between depression and specific positive and negative parenting behavior in 1,746 fathers of 1-year-old children who were participants of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Positive behavior included reading stories, playing games, and singing songs with their children three times or more in one week, while negative behavior included spanking their 1-year-old children within the previous month. Depression was assessed and analyses controlled for demographics and substance abuse.

The investigators found that 7 percent of fathers had depression. Depressed fathers were less likely to read to their children three times or more in one week (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.38) and more likely to spank them (aOR, 3.92). Forty-one percent of depressed fathers reported spanking their 1-year-old children within the previous month compared to 13 percent of nondepressed fathers.

"Pediatric providers should consider screening fathers for depression, discussing specific parenting behaviors with fathers (such as reading to children and appropriate discipline), and referring depressed fathers for appropriate treatment," the authors write.

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