Father Involvement and Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Families of Children with Disabilities or Delays

Daniel J. Laxman, Brent A. McBride, Laurie M. Jeans, W. Justin Dyer, Rosa M. Santos, Justin L. Kern, Niwako Sugimura, Sarah L. Curtiss, Jenna M. Weglarz-Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the longitudinal association between fathers’ early involvement in routine caregiving, literacy, play, and responsive caregiving activities at 9 months and maternal depressive symptoms at 4 years. Data for 3,550 children and their biological parents were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort data set. Analyses in a structural equation modeling framework examined whether the association between father involvement and maternal depressive symptoms differed for families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and for families of children with other disabilities or delays from families of children who were typically developing. Results indicated that father literacy and responsive caregiving involvement were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms for mothers of children with ASD. These findings indicate that greater father involvement may benefit families of children with ASD and highlight the need to support and encourage service providers to work with fathers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1086
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Depression
  • Disability related studies
  • Families with disabled members
  • Family and mental illness
  • Fathers level and quality of child-care involvement


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