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A Strong Marriage Can Shield Kids From Dad's Depression: Study
Date:5/28/2013

TUESDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- A father's depression may not have a negative effect on his children if he has a strong marriage, according to a new study.

Although depressed dads may have difficulty addressing the emotional needs of their children, researchers from the University of Illinois found if these fathers have a supportive spouse who listens they may be able to improve their interactions with their children.

"When a parent is interacting with their child, they need to be able to attend to the child's emotional state, be cued in to his developmental stage and abilities, and notice whether he is getting frustrated or needs help. Depressed parents have more difficulty doing that," Nancy McElwain, a professor of human development, explained in a University of Illinois news release.

In conducting the study, the researchers examined information on 606 children and their parents enrolled in a study on early child development done by the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

When their child was 4.5 years old, parents ranked their symptoms of depression and their perceptions of emotional intimacy in their marriage. The researchers also observed the parents interacting with their child during semi-structured activities. This interaction was repeated when the children were 6.5 years old.

"A supportive spouse appears to buffer the effects of the father's depression. We can see it in children's behavior when they're working with their dad. The kids are more persistent and engaged," the study's lead author, Jennifer Engle, said in the news release.

"At this stage of a child's development, an engaged parent is very important," Engle added. "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."

Although the depressed dads with a supportive spouse h
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