A Public Health Approach to Understanding Fathers' Psychological Health and Child Well-Being in Ethnically Diverse Families

Enhancing the developmental capacities of ethnic minority children is an important national goal. To achieve this, it is essential to identify the contextual factors that influence academic and emotional  health and the pathways through which they operate. Numerous studies have identified father involvement as an important way to facilitate positive child development. In addition to promoting early academic success, father involvement may serve as a critical context for promoting children’s mental health. In fact, a number of studies have highlighted the importance of parenting in the etiology of childhood depression, and children living in poverty may be more susceptible to depressive symptoms. Research has also shown that enhanced mental health among parents can have a positive impact on parenting and child outcomes. However, most extant research has focused on mothers, with less emphasis on the potential impact of fathers’ psychological health. This research project will investigate four specific questions:

  1. What is the relation between fathers’ psychological health and child development and mental health?
  2. Does marriage/relationship quality mediate the association between fathers’ psychological health, child development and mental health?
  3. Do the aforementioned associations vary by ethnicity (i.e., African American, European-America, and Hispanic) and socioeconomic status (SES)?
  4. What do these analyses suggest for changes in policy or service delivery ethnically diverse families?
FPG Project Staff:
Claire E. Baker, Principal Investigator
Kirsten L. Kainz, Statistician
Funding Agency: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Funding Period: 09/01/2015 - 08/31/2017
Award Amount: $100,000