Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 465–472

Parental Depression and Child Externalizing and Internalizing Symptoms: Unique Effects of Fathers’ Symptoms and Perceived Conflict as a Mediator

Original Paper


Although a developing body of literature suggests that depressive symptoms in fathers are related to child psychopathology, little evidence suggests that paternal depression plays a unique role in children’s symptoms. We used a high-risk design involving children of mothers with and without histories of depression to test the unique mediating role of father–child conflict in the relations between fathers’ depressive symptoms and child externalizing and internalizing symptoms. In all regression analyses, mothers’ history of depression and current depressive symptoms were controlled. Depressive symptoms in fathers were associated with child externalizing and internalizing symptoms, and father–child conflict. Father–child conflict mediated relations between fathers’ depressive symptoms and child externalizing symptoms above and beyond the effects of maternal depression history and depressive symptoms. The results suggest that negative interpersonal consequences of parental depression on child psychopathology may not be limited to mothers.


Fathers Depression Parent–child conflict Externalizing symptoms Internalizing symptoms 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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