Children benefit from strong marriage

If their father is depressed, children will benefit if he has a high level of emotional intimacy in his marriage. This is according to new research published in the journal Developmental Psychology, which found the quality of father-child interactions improves when a depressed dad has a close relationship with his other half, who is able to give him the support he needs.

Led by Nancy McElwain, Professor of Human Development at the University of Illinois, the investigation looked at data on 606 children who took part in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.

Professor McElwain noted that when a parent speaks to 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".

She explained that while depressed parents have trouble doing this, interaction improves if the father is in a strong marriage. 

Society member and author of 'The Father's Book' Dr David Cohen said: "When a father is depressed he's likely to think too much about himself and too little about his children. It obviously helps if a depressed father doesn't on top of that depression have to cope with a bad or even an indifferent marriage.'

'Every marriage is different but it always help for wife and husband to be able to talk - and talking together is one of the factors that makes for a strong marriage. Though one should never underestimate cooking, sex, and hiking.The reverse question is interesting. If a depressed father has a strong bond with his children does it help him cope with an imperfect marriage?"