Paternal Depression and Children's Development of Emotion Regulation

Document Type


Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Lori Roggman


While the negative influences of maternal depression on child outcomes are well established, less is known about the association of paternal depression on child outcomes. This study sought to understand how paternal depression influences child emotion regulation outcomes at 14, 24, and 36 months. The sample consisted of 74 fathers from low-income households receiving Early Head Start services, 97% were European American and living with or married to the child's mother. 95% were the child's biological father, 90% had a high school diploma, and 70% worked full-time while 51% of the mothers were at home full-time. Using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression measure, fathers reported their depression symptoms at child's age 14, 24, and 36 months. A trained assessor, using the Bayley-II Scales of Infant Development, rated the children's emotion regulation at 14, 24, and 36 months. Bivariate correlations show paternal depression correlates with poor child emotion regulation. Multiple regression analyses, controlling for maternal depression and family risk; (unemployment, teen parent, education less than high school graduate, public assistance, and unmarried parents), show that paternal depression predicts poor child emotion regulation regardless of those influences. Given equal levels of risk and maternal depression, we found that paternal depression significantly predicts poor emotion regulation in young children. The negative influence of paternal depression on a child's emotion regulation supports the need for mental health professionals to develop screening and early intervention programs specifically targeting paternal depression.

This document is currently not available here.