Fathers get post-partum too? That would explain a few things. Anyway, apparently this study shows that while both parents get pp depression, only the father’s depression affects kiddie reading levels. Great. The mess in the kitchen AND an illiterate kid. Can I do anything right? I’m headed into the bathroom to cry for a bit. (From Rebecca Skloot’s Twitter feed)
Some of the results were not surprising: Nine months after the child’s birth 24% of mothers and 20% of fathers reported mild symptoms of depression, and 9% of mothers and 6% of fathers reported at least moderate symptoms of depression. This confirms what other studies have shown, that parental depression is very common, and that it also affects fathers almost as frequently as it affects mothers.
However, there was one surprising finding: while mothers’ depression reduced the mother-child reading activities, and similarly, fathers’ depression reduced the father-child reading activities, it was the fathers’ depression (but not mothers) that significantly affected the child’s vocabulary development at 24-months. Why? The authors suggest that even though maternal depression reduced mother-child reading time, the mother stills spends a significant amount of time with the child, so that such reduction is not likely to have a major effect on the child’s development. However, the father may spend so little time with the child, that any reduction in father-child reading time may have a noticeable impact on the child’s language development.