The Impact of Maternal and Paternal Mental Health Problems on Children's Adult Distress

Christina Kamis , Duke University

Previous research finds that parental mental health problems in early life act as a childhood stressor with life course consequences. However, these studies have not thoroughly examined the role gender plays in shaping this relationship. This study uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (2007-2015) and the Childhood Retrospective Circumstances Study (2014) (n=4,010) to examine the relative role incidence and intensity of maternal and paternal mental health problems play in shaping respondent’s adult mental health. Both maternal and paternal mental health problems raise a respondent’s distress in adulthood, and the effect is largely the same. However, longer exposure to paternal mental health problems confers the greatest risk to offspring’s adult mental health. These patterns do not differ by child's gender. Results highlight that both mother’s and father’s mental health are predictive, albeit in different ways, of children’s life course mental health.

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 Presented in Session 223. Flash Session: Families and Health