Study Shows Depressed Parents Affect Behavioral Development in Children

Arming students with book smarts is only part of the education they will need to succeed. Students need to learn social and emotional skills to not only give them the tools they need to interact with teachers, peers, future employers, and family, but so they can quiet the environmental factors that can be so distracting and focus on their academics.

Creating a foundation of social and emotional learning has been a hot topic over the last week for experts in education. In The New York Times Magazine article “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” Paul Tough shares different perspectives on teaching kids to be resilient when confronted with failure so they have the tools to bounce back in school, career, and life. Fareed Zakaria’s article “When Will We Learn” in this month’s Time magazine suggests education reformers look to the strengths the U.S. has always had, instead of focusing on the weaknesses — U.S. schools were built on creativity and those are the skills today’s college students, and students from other developed nations, are lacking. Could emphasizing qualities like hard-work, determination, curiosity, creativity, and resiliency create students ready to take on academic tasks?

A new study published in the December issue of Pediatrics was recently released that looked at more than 22,000 children from two-parent homes. It showed children of depressed dads are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems than those with dads who aren’t depressed, according to a WebMD article.

The study also found the following statistics on the affects of parental depression on youth:

  • Children have double the risk of becoming depressed if their father suffers from depression.
  • Children are at three times the risk of becoming depressed if their mother suffers from depression.
  • Children are four times as likely to be depressed if both parents suffer from depression.

Parents influence every aspect of child development and a depressed parent will parent differently than one who is not, say researchers.

Affects of depression on children can start showing early in toddlers who have trouble regulating their emotions. It’s more common however to be diagnosed in school-aged children when they start showing signs of depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Doctors suggest parents get treated early for depression before children get caught in the cycle. Children bring their home life with them to school and activities in their learned behaviors. This study suggests parents who take care of their emotional problems will not only personally benefit, but help the development of their children’s emotions and behaviors as well.



“Dad’s Depression May Raise Kids’ Risk of Emotional Problems,” by Denise Mann. 7 November 2011. WebMD. Accessed on 8 November 2011.


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