Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research

First Advisor

Keyonna King, Dr. P.H

Second Advisor

Regina Idoate, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Abbie Raikes, Ph.D

Fourth Advisor

Gleb Haynatzki, Ph.D


In the United States (US), African American (AA) men often face oppression, discrimination, negative interactions with the justice system, and significant economic, neighborhood, and social hardships over their life course. These challenges increase the risk of chronic exposure to stressful events with negative mental health outcomes, such as depression. Most of the research on parenting and parental depression has focused on mothers based on the premise that women are more often primary caregivers for their children, especially during early childhood. However, a growing number of fathers take on childcare responsibilities. Despite dealing with different life stressors and negative circumstances, AA fathers were reported to be involved in their child’s life and remain involved when they were not living with the child. Depression can lead to negative parenting; hence, understanding the relationship between AA fathers' depression and paternal parenting behaviors becomes especially important. Research on this topic is still relatively scarce, with most studies focusing on risk factors and less on resilience, coping skills, or protective factors.

Applying the principles of the community-based participatory research approach, we used an explanatory sequential mixed methods design to analyze how parental self-efficacy, self-esteem, and social support mediate the relationship between depression, parental closeness, and parent-child interactions. In the first phase (phase I), we identified the role of parental self-efficacy, self-esteem, and social support in mediating the relationship between depression, parental closeness, and parent-child interaction. We used secondary data from the ‘Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study’ (FFCWS) to explore the association between the potential mediators (i.e., parent self-efficacy, self-esteem, and social support) and AA fathers’ depression. First, we performed a multiple regression analysis of the Year-9a cross-sectional survey of the FFCWS to analyze the association between paternal depression, parental closeness, and parent-child interactions. We then conducted a mediation analysis to assess the relationship between parent self-efficacy, self-esteem, social support, parental closeness, and parent-child interaction. The findings of phase I informed the development of the questions for the in-depth interviews with AA fathers in the second phase (phase II), intending to explore the mechanisms between the protective factors, depression, and parenting.

The bivariate analysis results in phase I indicated that parental closeness and parent-child interactions were significantly associated with parental self-efficacy, self-esteem, and social support. In the multiple mediation analysis, parental self-efficacy, self-esteem, and social support mediated the relationship between depression and parental closeness but not parent-child interactions. The major themes reported in Phase II were overall experiences dealing with depressive episodes and parenting during depressive episodes. The subthemes identified were depression history, depression coping mechanisms, depression protective factors, depression treatment, childhood trauma, parenting history, parenting during depression, and other factors interfering with parenting. In phase II, the AA fathers interviewed reported that parental self-efficacy was the main factor in the resilience against depression. Most fathers also reported a lack of trust in mental health services as a barrier to seeking professional help during depressive episodes. Our study serves as an initial guideline for interventions to address the need for mental health and parenting program for AA fathers.


2022 Copyright, the authors

Available for download on Friday, December 06, 2024