Washington: Turns out, the presence of ‘boomerang dads,’ those who cycle in and out of their kids’ lives, offsets depression in teen girls.
“Previous research has suggested that stressful experiences, like family instability, father absence or stepfather presence, contribute to an adolescent experiencing depression,” said principal investigator Daphne Hernandez of the University of Houston.
Hernandez added, “This is not what happened in the cases of these youth. Boomerang fathering served as a protective factor for female adolescent depression compared to female adolescents who experienced instability, but not boomerang fathers.”
“We’re finding a new way that families might support their children. Even though the family has gone through some really bad times, having the dad come back has proven to be positive,” said researcher Cassandra Dorius of Iowa State University.
Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Young Adult files, researchers examined responses from nearly 4,000 youth who were 18 years old by the year 2010 and more than 3,300 mothers. A third of the daughters sampled had unstable father residential patterns – they never lived with their biological father or they experienced boomerang fathering.
The team also found that there was no real difference between adolescent depressive symptoms of girls who lived with their biological father from birth to 18 years of age and those with lived with boomerang fathers.
Adolescent girls exposed to boomerang fathers had lower depressive symptoms at 18 years of age than those exposed to unstable, non-boomerang fathers
Boomerang fathering was not significantly related to depression in adolescent boys.
Hernandez notes that biological parents who boomerang are more likely to be single at the time of their child’s birth, which she said is “a gateway for which boomeranging exists” since there is no legal or residential commitment. Additionally, most households with boomeranging fathers did not experience a stepparent or nonbiological father presence.
The researchers noted that the study’s findings suggest family instability is more fluid and complex than previously thought, indicating greater family support during times of instability may assist in creating positive mental health.
The study is published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. (ANI)