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J Fam Psychol. 2004 Dec;18(4):575-88.

Father involvement moderates the effect of maternal depression during a child's infancy on child behavior problems in kindergarten.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


This research investigated whether father involvement in infancy may reduce or exacerbate the well-established adverse effect of maternal depression during a child's infancy on behavior problems in childhood. In a community sample (N = 350), the authors found that fathers' self-reported parenting styles interacted with the amount of time fathers spent caring for their infants to moderate the longitudinal effect of maternal depression during the child's infancy on children's internalizing, but not externalizing, behaviors. Low to medium amounts of high-warmth father involvement and high amounts of medium- or high-control father involvement at this time were associated with lower child internalizing behaviors. Paternal depression during a child's infancy exacerbated the effect of maternal depression, but this moderating effect was limited to depressed fathers spending medium to high amounts of time caring for their infants. Results emphasize the moderating role fathers may play in reducing or exacerbating the adverse long-term effects of maternal depression during a child's infancy on later child behavior problems.

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