Father involvement and child development in the context of maternal postnatal depression
Dr Iryna Culpin
University of Bristol
The negative influence of maternal postnatal depression (PND) on child development is well established, although many children adapt successfully. It is important to understand the processes that underlie both adverse and adaptive outcomes in these children. One potential protective mechanism is a sensitive relationship with the father. However, studies that address the father’s role in protecting children against harmful effects of maternal depression are lacking.
I will use interdisciplinary research to explore the nature of the father-mother-child relationship and child development in the context of maternal depression. A sociological study will illuminate the interplay of social and individual processes that shape the father-child relationship in families affected by depression. A behavioural study will elucidate possible protective aspects of father-child interactions, while an epidemiological study will examine associations over time between maternal depression, child development and fathers’ involvement using data from UK-based birth cohorts.
These insights are crucial for early prevention of negative effects of PND on child development and father-inclusive policies.