Effects of paternal depression on fathers' parenting behaviors: A meta-analytic review

Sylia Wilson, C. Emily Durbin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

419 Scopus citations


One possible mechanism for the familial transmission of depression is through its negative effects on parenting and the parent-child relationship. Although previous research indicates that depression is associated with parenting impairment for mothers, no quantitative synthesis of the empirical literature on the effects of paternal depression on fathers' parenting has been conducted. The present meta-analysis examined the effects of paternal depression on fathers' positive and negative parenting behaviors. The mean effect sizes, computed using 40 independent effect sizes derived from 28 published and unpublished studies, indicated that paternal depression has significant, though small, effects on parenting, with depressed fathers demonstrating decreased positive and increased negative parenting behaviors. Several moderating effects were found, including child and father age, and sample race/ethnicity, and effects were comparable for studies that used self-report measures and observational methods to assess fathers' parenting behaviors. Moreover, effect sizes for the relationship between paternal depression and fathers' parenting behaviors were comparable to those found for mothers. The present findings indicate that paternal depression has a significant and deleterious effect on parenting behaviors by fathers, and speak to the importance of continuing to include fathers in research on child development and the family environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-180
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Fathers
  • Meta-analysis
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Parenting
  • Paternal depression


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