Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD) is estimated to affect one in ten men. It is predominantly caused by stress, and the risk for paternal postpartum depression doubles when the child’s mother develops a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
I believe it is crucial to address PPD in the discourse about supporting fathers because Paternal Postpartum Depression is one of the earliest enemies that disrupt the father-child secure attachment.
Fathers with PPD experience depression, lack of interest in the child, irritability, thoughts of suicide and infanticide, and other negative emotions. With these mental health challenges, it is difficult for fathers to positively influence their children’s development. From the earliest years of life, the nurturing and responsive caregiving fathers provide contribute to the general wellbeing of the child throughout the lifespan. Consider this, “From infancy to adulthood, warm, close, and responsive father-child relationships have diverse and significant influences on children’s adjustment, especially on daughters. During adolescence, positive father-child communication is associated with greater self-esteem, better school adjustment, lower depression, and substance use” (Bireda & Pillay, 2018, as cited in Sağkal et al., 2018). We must not allow PPD to prevent fathers from contributing to the positive outcomes of their children.
Considering stress is a major risk factor for PPD, stress reduction is integral to reducing a father’s risk for PPD. We can reduce paternal stress by increasing access to parent education and reducing financial stress. How can mommas get these done? If possible take those prenatal and parenting classes with your children’s father. Proverbs 24:5 (NKJV) says, “A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.” Help your child’s father acquire the knowledge needed to strengthen his parenting skills. Getting fathers involved in parenting classes from conception boosts the father’s capacity to parent and builds confidence, reducing parenting stress and the feeling of isolation. Feeling isolated while the mother and newborn bond is also a risk factor for PPD.
We can reduce financial stress by practicing contentment. Contentment curbs the desire to keep up with the Joneses, reduces financial pressure on fathers, and allows us to prioritize family over finances. Please do not organize expensive baby showers or gender reveals because it is popular. Hebrews 11:35 (AMP) declares, “Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I WILL NEVER [under any circumstances] DESERT YOU [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], NOR WILL I FORSAKE or LET YOU DOWN or RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU [assuredly not]!”
Want to explore more ways to reduce PPD and boost the confidence of a new or expecting father in your life? I recommend the Daddy Duties course I created. Fathers will learn about financial management and psychospiritual practices for reducing stress and strengthening the father-infant relationship. Visit littleonespiecmh.com to learn more.
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