Depressive dads. This almost sounds like an oxymoron. Fatherhood is marketed as one of the most fulfilling endeavors men would ever partake in. But now that more and more white men are losing their ability to provide basic sustenance for their families at higher rates than ever before — which are still not at the levels of black men during any previous decade — social scientists finally feel it’s time to pay attention to the signs of depression in disenfranchised men.
According to Reuters, because fathers are experiencing increased levels of depression due to continuous wars and economic downturn, the children of these depressed fathers find themselves internalizing some aspects of depression such as acting out and fighting.
Researchers studied over 20,000 families, all of which had a child between the age of five and 17, and both a mother and father living at home, asking questions that were relevant to depression.
Lead researcher, Michael Weitzman of the New York University School of Medicine, expressed his concern and reason for finally studying the effects of fathers’ depression on their chidren:
“In the big picture of caring about our children and trying to do whatever is best to help them achieve the highest potential … clearly fathers are not regularly thought of.”
This research seems to come very late for blacks as a majority of African American males are living in what some would call the third generation of children born to fathers without stable job opportunities. Many of the steady manufacturing jobs across the country, which provided the foundation for the black middle-class population, were (and still are) outsourced, creating the strain and fractures in families that, according to this report in particular, fostered depression.
Coupling that disenfranchisement of black males with the lack of support for single black mothers, it is curious to know how many young black children have gone relatively unnoticed by researchers interested in the signs of internalized depression in black girls and boys.
Either way, the study seems to have good intentions, and this type of work needs more attention, especially with men’s propensity to engage in violence, irrespective of whatever illness they suffer from.
Jeremy Pettit, a psychologist from Florida International University in Miami, who wasn’t involved with the study, seems to agree:
“Parents who are depressed tend to engage less with their children, tend to display less positive behaviours, and display more harsh, negative and critical behaviors.”