Q: My husband is very anxious about the birth of our second child. He is feeling the economic pressure of our expanding family and worries about everything. He is making me anxious because of his state of distress. What can I tell him to calm him down? I know God will provide if we are faithful.
A: You are so right. God is faithful and promises to provide for our needs. Maybe this study published in Pediatrics will help him realize he needs to trust and let go of worry. The study included 32,000 children and found that the psychological distress of Dad during pregnancy did impact child development. Specifically, fathers were given a screening questionnaire regarding their mental health status during their partner’s pregnancy. Later, mothers were asked to also fill out questionnaires regarding their child’s development. Controlling for a number of variables, a link was found between the fathers’ mental health and their children’s later developmental problems. Dads who scored high on anxiety and distress when the mom was 17 to 18 weeks pregnant had children who were more disruptive and anxious at age 3! We don’t know exactly why this is, but maybe the mental health of the father later impacts his parenting, or maybe his mental health impacts the mother’s mental health, or maybe there is a genetic link. The point here is that the mental health of the dad, not just the mother, impacts the developing child. So let your husband know that his anxiety and distress could be affecting your child. It is time to trust God to meet your needs and let go of worry. Your new baby is too important and you want to give him or her the best start possible.
Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed therapist and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. She is a national speaker and bestselling author with 18 book titles currently published. Visit her website at drlindahelps.com.