Can a father’s mood affect a child’s behavior and intelligence?

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We all know that mothers play a crucial role in their children’s development.

However, a new study suggests that fathers’ feelings and moods during pregnancy might also have an impact on their children’s behavior and intelligence. This might sound surprising, but let’s break it down in simpler terms.

Researchers in Canada wanted to find out if fathers’ feelings and moods, especially when their partners are pregnant and later when their children are 6 to 8 years old, can influence how their children behave and how smart they are.

The Study Details

In this study, researchers talked to parents about their feelings during pregnancy and when their kids were little. They looked at how both fathers and mothers felt and how they thought about parenting.

Why Is It Important? We know that mothers’ mental health can affect their children, but we don’t know much about how fathers’ mental health might have an impact.

Understanding this could help families and children, especially when parents are going through a tough time.

Surprisingly, the study found that fathers’ feelings of anxiety and depression during pregnancy didn’t seem to affect their children negatively.

In fact, when fathers reported slightly higher levels of depression while their partners were pregnant, their children had fewer behavior problems when they were 6 to 8 years old.

Why Is This Important?

This is important because it challenges what we thought we knew. We used to believe that fathers’ mental health might lead to more problems for their children, but this study suggests something different.

Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into the study’s findings.

When fathers reported feeling a bit more down (but not severely depressed) during their partner’s pregnancy, their children seemed to do better in terms of behavior and attention when they were 6 to 8 years old.

This is different from what we know about mothers, where higher levels of anxiety and depression can sometimes lead to more behavior problems in their children.

We’re not entirely sure why this is the case. It could be that when fathers are more emotionally involved during pregnancy, it sets the stage for better interactions and parenting later on. This could help their children feel more secure and less likely to have behavior problems.

The study also compared the impact of fathers’ feelings to mothers’. It found that mothers’ anxiety and depression were more likely to lead to behavior problems in their children.

However, it’s important to note that these effects were still quite small, and most children were doing just fine.


In conclusion, this study suggests that fathers’ mild feelings of anxiety or depression during pregnancy might actually have a positive effect on their children’s behavior and attention when they are 6 to 8 years old.

While this is different from what we know about mothers, it highlights the importance of understanding both parents’ roles in their children’s development.

However, more research is needed to fully understand these findings. The study was based on the feelings of parents in a community and not on clinical diagnoses by mental health professionals.

So, while this study provides valuable insights, we should interpret the results with caution.

Understanding how parents’ mental health affects their children is a complex topic, and it’s likely that many factors play a role.

But by continuing to study and learn about these factors, we can better support families and help children thrive.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about 6 foods you can eat to improve mental health, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and results showing Omega-3 fats may help reduce depression.

The research findings can be found in Frontiers in Psychology.

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