Tag Archives: Depression

Dad’s Role In The Family

Dads matter.

That seems like a no-brainer these days, but for much of the 20th century, the role of the father in family life, especially the rearing of children, was assumed to be minimal.

Note that word there — assumed. There really wasn’t much in the way of research done on the effect a dad has on his children’s growth and development. After all, Freud Himself enshrined the role of the mother as vastly important to the personality of the child so who were they to argue?

More recently, researchers have been turning their gimlet eye to dadsdads_best_1 and finding out what I’ve known all along: Dads matter.

Did you know that a healthy father can ease the impact of a mother’s depression on the children, while a depressed father is a risk factor for excessive crying in infants? That fathers can suffer from hormonal postpartum depression?

Or that fathers’ early involvement with their daughters leads to “a reduced risk of early puberty, early initiation of sex and teen pregnancy”? We’re not sure exactly why, but Bruce J. Ellis, of the University of Arizona, has noted that exposure to fathers’ pheromones can slow down pubertal development.

In a review of Paul Raeburn’s “Do Fathers Matter?” in the New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer reports that numerous researchers are finding that fathers have some surprising effects on their children.

Older fathers are more deeply involved with their children’s schools, more likely to attend ballet classes or know their children’s friends. On the other hand, the children of older fathers seem to have stronger genetic predispositions toschizophrenia and autism — so much so that older dads should get genetic counseling, Mr. Raeburn argues, just as older moms hear about the risk of Down syndrome.

On yet another hand, the children of older dads are taller and slimmer. So there’s that. (Nobody knows why.)

That nobody knows why there at the end is a familiar refrain in a lot of sociological research of this type. We’re able to find the effects, but because the initiating incidents are so intertwined with multifarious actions by multiple actors, it’s difficult to sort out which cause is the, well, cause.

For instance, research shows that dads are the dudes who have a bigger effect on their children’s vocabulary than do moms. One prevailing theory for this has to do with vicious stereotyping. Because, the theory goes, the mothers are around the little dudes and dudettes more (because women stay home and men work outside the house of course), they tend to tailor their vocabulary to words the kid already knows. Fathers, however, because they’re absent for more time, don’t know their kids as well and so introduce words that are novel to the child.

Does it surprise anyone to think I might disagree with this theory. I know the reason my young dudes have great vocabularies (and they do. No question.) is because I actively worked at it. I wouldn’t use baby talk with them and didn’t dumb down my vocabulary when I talked to them.

I did explain a lot of words, but I made sure to expose them to the variety of vocabulary victuals I liked to serve up on the plate of life. Even when the metaphor is horrifically strained because of atrocious alliteration.

Dads matter. We’ve always known it, but now it’s up to science to start letting us know how and why. And it’s up to dads like us to make sure we matter because of our presence, rather than our absence.

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Consequences Of Going Sleepless Even If You’re Not In Seattle*

Sleep. Ah, blessed, wonderful, energizing sleep. How I love you so.

And, yet, sleep is something I tend to try and avoid as much as possible. I’ll stay up as late as possible before heading to bed. Once there, I will sleep as little as I can possibly get away with before forcing myself awake and starting another sleep-deprived day.

Back in my day, when I worked at my first newspaper, my normal shift didn’t start until 10 am. Which meant I could stay up until 1 am, sleep eight hours and still be in on time to start work.

That was, and I use this word with complete certainty that it is the right word for the job, beautiful.

Of course, things changed and, for the most part, I started changing with them. I still remember the horror with which I faced the night before the first day of Sarcasmo’s high school. He had to catch a bus at 6:30 am, which meant we had to be up before 6 and getting ready to head out.

I hit the hay before 11 pm for the first time in a long, long time. And I never really did acclimate to the whole early-to-bed-early-to-rise thing. Benjamin Franklin was a great dude for the most part, but he had some serious issues when it came to sleep.

So, I tend to be on the lookout for information about sleep. I like to make sure that, when I sleep too little, I am at least sleeping deeply and getting the most restorative efforts for my time. So when I ran across this great infographic from my apparently new go-to magazine for post kickstarters, Popular Science, I knew I had to talk about it.

Should you stay up late bingewatching House of Cards, or finishing off that really big book? Probably not. And here's why.

 

I can’t be the only dude who sees things like chronic depression on there and starts getting nervous about his sleep habits, yeah?

Which means that, dudes, if you’re reading this at night, it might be time to sign off the old IntarTubules, brush your teeth, change into the comfy jammies and hit the sack. See if you can get a good night’s sleep for a change.

You never know. You might actually enjoy it.

Footnotes & Errata

* Wow, did that reference date me or what? Erm, I saw it on Netflix? Not in theaters? Yeah, that sounds good.

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Lower The Lung Power

Sometimes, yelling just feels sooooooo good.

It’s cathartic. Dudes, I’m telling you that, sometimes when I’m screaming, I can feel the tension rushing out my body, through the lungs and vanishing into the echoes.

Screaming my lungs out at a football game not only helps support my team (Go, Gators!), but also helps me to feel a part of something greater, something louder, something (slightly) more obnoxious than myself.

Yelling at my young dudes, though. . . Not so good.

I understand the attraction. I’ve given in to the desire to just release that anger and frustration through yelling at the young dudes. I’ve never thought well of myself after, though. Even as I was doing it, I knew it was wrong. Mostly I managed to stop, take a step back and grab a (not-so-metaphorical) breath.

Mostly.

Yelling at your young dudes never accomplishes anything. Well, anything worthwhile. It can certainly accomplish the not-so-arduous task of making you look like an idiot and making your child feel small, worthless and horrible.

I think we can all agree that this is not a desirable outcome.

In a recent post, Salynn Boyles, a contributing writer for the blog site MedPage Today, writes about how yelling at your children has a quantifiable bad result.

Parents who yell, insult, or swear in an effort to correct bad behavior may perpetuate the behavior and increase a child’s risk for depression, new research suggests.

Unfortunately, parents yelling at their children isn’t a rare thing. In the study, researchers reported that nearly half of all parents (45% to 46% of moms and 42% to 43% of dads) said they used what it euphemistically called verbal discipline with their 13- and 14-year-old children. Mostly, we’d just call it yelling at the kids.

Using a cross-lagged model, the research showed that higher exposure to harsh verbal discipline at age 13 predicted increased adolescent behavior problems between the ages of 13 and 14 (beta=0.12 and 0.11; P<0.001), lead researcher and behavioral psychologistMing-Te Wang, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues, wrote in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Child Development.

Higher exposure to parental yelling and other forms of harsh verbal discipline at age 13 predicted increased depressive symptoms between the ages of 13 and 14 (beta=0.16 and 0.14;P<0.001).

Well, sure. I mean, if you got yelled at by your mom or dad when you were that age, I’m pretty sure you would have been at least a little depressed. I mean, what is the young dude or dudette supposed to thing? Their parent is screaming at them over some behavior. . . Obviously the young one is a miserable excuse for a human being.

Remember, teenagers aren’t known for their ability to successfully think their way out of a wet paper bag. Add in a healthy dollop of emotional overreaction and you’ve got a recipe for feeling horrible. Which, unfortunately, is something that doesn’t go away as easily as it was brought on.

Psychologist Nadine Kaslow, PhD, who is president elect of the American Psychological Association and who was not involved in the study, said the findings highlight the futility and potential harms of reacting to adolescent behavioral issues with harsh verbal discipline.

Kaslow is the chief psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and a professor of psychiatry at Atlanta’s Emory University School of Medicine.

“It sends the message that when you are mad or upset or scared, yelling is the way to deal with it,” she told MedPage Today. “That is the opposite of the message parents should be sending. Also, shouting and yelling doesn’t really work. It may stop the behavior for a while, but the child will probably be exhibiting the same behavior within an hour or two.”

And, yet, there are those parents who choose yelling at their kids as a peaceful alternative to hitting the young dudes and dudettes. I’m not sure how either of these things could possibly be seen as a better scenario.

The big takeaway from this article, other than the idea that you shouldn’t scream at a misbehaving child since it doesn’t actually work to decrease non-desired behavior, is that it’s better to work with your child, rather than directly imposing your will on him or her.

“Our results support a transactional model of parent-child interaction and suggest that any intervention efforts to reduce both harsh verbal discipline and conduct problems will need to target both the parents and the child,” the researchers concluded.

The next time you feel like you’re about to let loose, try and swallow it, dudes. Save it for the stadium, where it’s a good thing. Instead, take that breath and talk to your teen. You won’t regret it.

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