The Psychological Wellbeing of Involved, Low Income Fathers
Low income men are at particular risk for experiencing adverse health conditions such as depression which may reduce involvement with their children. Low income men may also face significant challenges in becoming and remaining involved with their children over time, as many fathers may cease to live with their child over time. Yet, we have little understanding of how father involvement may be linked with depression particularly for low income and nonresident fathers. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 3376), we examined cross-lagged reciprocal relations between father involvement and depression for resident (n = 2154) and nonresident (n = 1112) low income fathers. We expanded upon previous research by using a multidimensional measure of father involvement and a sample of primarily low income resident and nonresident fathers. Overall, we found that, regardless of whether or not a father lived with his child, his involvement with his child decreased his depressive symptoms two years later. We also found that, overall, depression reduced father involvement, although these effects became negligible when only resident or nonresident fathers were examined. We did find that, for nonresident fathers, father involvement when children were age one increased depression when children were age three. In sum, our models find little support for the notion that poor mental health selects unhealthy fathers into less involved parental roles.
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