There is no doubt that the demands of a new baby can be overwhleming. Friends, family, and even the baby's pediatrician are often on the lookout for post-partem depression in new moms, but less attention is paid to the mental health of new dads. But just like new moms, new dads get depressed too. And a recent study has found that they may be more likely to spank their kids as a result.
The authors analyzed data on 1,746 fathers from a nationally representative survey in 16 large U.S. cities, conducted in 1999-2000. About 40 percent of depressed fathers in a survey said they'd spanked their one-year-olds, versus just 13 percent of fathers who weren't depressed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and many child development experts warn against spanking children of any age -- particularly young children. Kids younger than one-year-old can't talk, can barely walk, and are extremely unlikely to understand why they are being spanked. But studies have have shown that kids who are spanked are at risk of being physically abused and becoming aggressive themselves.
Overall, seven percent of dads had experienced recent major depression. This is less than the 25 percent of women who experience depression after childbirth. Still, it's a big enough number to indicate that more attention should be paid to ensuring that new dads are coping well after the birth of a baby. Particualrly when so much may be riding on it.