Project Advisor(s)

Dr. Jamie Nordling

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Disciplines

Developmental Psychology | Psychology

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1991) states that humans have three critical needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness – that are necessary for optimal development. The current study posits that helicopter parenting (i.e., excessive parental involvement and attention) may interfere with the development of these needs; previous research has found links among helicopter parenting, greater mental health symptomatology, and decreased autonomy (Schiffrin et al., 2014). The current study focused on first-year college students who were experiencing significant changes in social and academic domains. It was hypothesized that first-year students with helicopter parents would be more likely to experience negative outcomes (i.e., greater depression, panic, social anxiety, sexual and substance risk taking, peer insecurity, and less social and academic competence).

First-year students completed online questionnaires to assess the negative outcomes described above. Higher scores in mothers’ helicopter parenting were associated with greater depression and social anxiety. Higher scores in fathers’ helicopter parenting were associated with greater social competence and peer security and less depression. The pattern of results suggests that mothers’ helicopter parenting was associated with negative outcomes, whereas fathers’ helicopter parenting was associated with positive outcomes.

Previous research has generally found that helicopter parenting is problematic for development; our research found that mothers’ and fathers’ parenting may be viewed differently. Mothers may have been perceived as being intrusive, whereas fathers may have been seen as protective. Future research should examine the different perceptions of mothers’ and fathers’ helicopter parenting and examine why these different perceptions exist.

Comments

This is from a supervised research project done with Dr. Nordling.

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Fathers are helping, mothers are hovering: Differential effects of helicopter parenting in college first-year students

Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1991) states that humans have three critical needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness – that are necessary for optimal development. The current study posits that helicopter parenting (i.e., excessive parental involvement and attention) may interfere with the development of these needs; previous research has found links among helicopter parenting, greater mental health symptomatology, and decreased autonomy (Schiffrin et al., 2014). The current study focused on first-year college students who were experiencing significant changes in social and academic domains. It was hypothesized that first-year students with helicopter parents would be more likely to experience negative outcomes (i.e., greater depression, panic, social anxiety, sexual and substance risk taking, peer insecurity, and less social and academic competence).

First-year students completed online questionnaires to assess the negative outcomes described above. Higher scores in mothers’ helicopter parenting were associated with greater depression and social anxiety. Higher scores in fathers’ helicopter parenting were associated with greater social competence and peer security and less depression. The pattern of results suggests that mothers’ helicopter parenting was associated with negative outcomes, whereas fathers’ helicopter parenting was associated with positive outcomes.

Previous research has generally found that helicopter parenting is problematic for development; our research found that mothers’ and fathers’ parenting may be viewed differently. Mothers may have been perceived as being intrusive, whereas fathers may have been seen as protective. Future research should examine the different perceptions of mothers’ and fathers’ helicopter parenting and examine why these different perceptions exist.