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Father Involvement and Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Families of Children with Disabilities or Delays

Abstract

This study examined the longitudinal association between fathers’ early involvement in routine caregiving, literacy, play, and responsive caregiving activities at 9 months and maternal depressive symptoms at 4 years. Data for 3,550 children and their biological parents were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort data set. Analyses in a structural equation modeling framework examined whether the association between father involvement and maternal depressive symptoms differed for families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and for families of children with other disabilities or delays from families of children who were typically developing. Results indicated that father literacy and responsive caregiving involvement were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms for mothers of children with ASD. These findings indicate that greater father involvement may benefit families of children with ASD and highlight the need to support and encourage service providers to work with fathers.

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Notes

  1. Per NCES requirements when using ECLS-B data, all N’s in this article were rounded to the nearest 50.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a grant from the Institute for Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education to B. McBride, R. Santos, S. Hong, and W. J. Dyer (R324A120174). This research was also supported in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers T32HD007489 and P30HD003352. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Institute for Education Sciences or the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Daniel J. Laxman.

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Laxman, D.J., McBride, B.A., Jeans, L.M. et al. Father Involvement and Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Families of Children with Disabilities or Delays. Matern Child Health J 19, 1078–1086 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-014-1608-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-014-1608-7

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Disability related studies
  • Family and mental illness
  • Families with disabled members
  • Fathers level and quality of child-care involvement