Being involved in your child’s life is crucial to their development. Who else will guide and teach your child to grow from a dependent being into an independent adult?
But how involved are you? Do you take over when your child tries to do something? Insist that you do it because it’s quicker? If this sounds familiar, you may be a helicopter parent… and your over-parenting may screw up your kids by college.
Great! Another thing parents have to worry about!
Helicopter parents are overly involved in their child’s lives. Though they have good intentions, helicopter parents go above and beyond being supportive, and intervene in teenagers’ lives.
It could be time to make some parenting changes; researchers are finding that crossing the line between supportive and too involved could indirectly lead to issues such as depression and anxiety for young adults.
Helicopter parenting has become an increasing concern among practitioners, college administrators, and professors. Further, some research has indicated that this form of parenting may have a deleterious effect on emerging adult college students’ mental health.
While many studies have been on adolescents, this particular study in the Journal of Child and Family Services looked at emerging adults, or college-aged students.
Researchers surveyed more than 450 college students, ages 18 to 25, about how their mothers influenced their life decisions. They asked the students how their mothers would respond to sample situations, and also asked them to self-assess their own abilities to persist in complicated tasks or adverse situations. Researchers also rated their depression, life satisfaction, anxiety and physical health.
The study revealed that students who had mothers who allowed them more autonomy had better life satisfaction, physical health and self-efficacy.
But students with helicopter parent were more likely to report low levels of self-efficacy, or the ability to handle some tougher life tasks and decisions. The study also showed higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower life satisfaction and physical health in these students.
“The way your parents interact with you has a lot to do with how you view yourself,” Assistant Professor of Family and Child Sciences Mallory Lucier-Greer wrote.
“If parents are simply being supportive, they are saying things like ‘you can manage your finances, you can pick out your classes.’ It changes if they are doing that all for you. I think there are good intentions behind those helicopter behaviors, but at the end of the day you need to foster your child’s development.”
The study results showed that both autonomy supportive parenting and helicopter parenting were found to have “indirect effects on anxiety, depression, life satisfaction, and physical health through self-efficacy”.
Results also indicated autonomy supportive parenting was directly related to life satisfaction and physical health when accounting for self-efficacy, whereas helicopter parenting was not directly related to well-being.
So a word of advice? Support your kids but don’t do everything for them. They need to learn on their own, make their own decision including mistakes.