Major Depressive Disorder, Partner Relationships and Children's Behavior

Kristin E. Turney, University of Pennsylvania

It is well known that parental depression, particularly material depression, is associated with less favorable behavioral outcomes among children, but little research examines the mechanisms through depression matters. This paper takes a step toward explaining the relationship between parental depression and children's behavior, using data from a subsample of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing survey (N = 1,926). I find that maternal and paternal depression weakens partner relationships and co-parenting, particularly when unmarried partners live together. Moreover, both relationship quality and co-parenting partially attenuate the association between parental depression and children’s behavioral outcomes. This research extends past literature by using a large, non-clinical, and representative sample; by incorporating reports of both parents; and, importantly, by elucidating mechanisms through which depression matters for children.

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Presented in Poster Session 5