Healthy Marriages Help Depressed Men Be Better Dads

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obama n girlsIt seems a lot of focus has been put on how so many African American homes are single parent homes. We repeatedly hear about how a lot of Black women have to do the challenging job of raising their child or children by themselves. Whether directly or indirectly, the question of why Black men are not stepping up and being fathers to their children continues to come up over and over.

A study which talks about depression makes a very valid point that being in healthy marriages helps men to be better fathers to their children. Even though the study focuses on depression, the point that it makes is that men are better fathers when thy have the support and love of their wives.

Researchers evaluated data from a subset of 606 children and their parents who participated in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.

When their child was 4½ years old, parents ranked themselves on two scales: one that assessed depressive symptoms and another that elicited their perceptions of emotional intimacy in their marriage. Parents were also observed interacting with their child during semi-structured tasks when the children were 4½, then 6½ years old.

“At this stage of a child’s development, an engaged parent is very important. The son’s or daughter’s ability to focus and persist with a task when they are frustrated is critical in making a successful transition from preschool to formal schooling,” Engle said.

Interestingly, the benefits of a supportive spouse did not help depressed mothers.

That may be because men and women respond to depression differently, she added.

“Men tend to withdraw; women tend to ruminate. We think that high emotional intimacy and sharing in the marriage may encourage a woman’s tendency to ruminate about her depression, disrupting her ability to be available and supportive with her children.”

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