Saturday, February 16, 2013

Children with controlling 'helicopter parents' are more likely to be depressed

An overbearing parenting style - where parents hover over their children - affects a child's ability to get on with others, say researchers
Children with controlling parents are more likely to be depressed or anxious, a study suggests.

Researchers warn that the overbearing parenting style, known as 'helicopter parenting' - where parents hover over their children and become too involved in their lives - affects a child's ability to get on with others.  While some parental involvement helps children develop, too much can make them more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives, they say.  The findings also suggested that children of over controlling parents feel less competent and less able to manage life and its stressors while some parents wrongly consider 'helicopter parenting' to be supportive, rather than detrimental.

The research, from the University of Mary Washington in the U.S., involved 297 American graduate students aged 18 to 23.

In an online survey, participants were asked to describe their mothers' parenting behaviours and rate their own perceptions of their autonomy, competence, and how well they get along with other people. They were also asked to rate their overall satisfaction with life, their level of anxiety, and whether or not they suffered depressive symptoms.  The results showed inappropriate level of parental control was linked to negative well-being outcomes for students.

Helicopter parenting behaviours were linked to higher levels of depression, decreased satisfaction with life and lower levels of perceived autonomy, competence, and ability to get along with people. Those who perceived they had less autonomy and competence were also more likely to be depressed, the study found. Because children's need for autonomy increases over time as they strive to become independent young adults, researchers said they were concerned that some parents do not adjust their level of involvement and control as their child grows up.

The authors conclude that parents should be wary of helicopter parenting, which they labelled a highly involved, intensive, and hands-on method of parenting which undermines their children. 'Parents should keep in mind how developmentally appropriate their involvement is and learn to adjust their parenting style when their children feel that they are hovering too closely,' lead researcher Holly Schiffrin said.

The study was published online in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.



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