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Helicopter Parenting Associated with Depression among College Students

Update Date: Feb 13, 2013 03:16 AM EST

A new study has found that children of helicopter parents - those who control every aspect of their children's lives - are more likely to feel depressed and less satisfied with their lives than children whose parents aren't that controlling.

University of Mary Washington researchers have found that parental over-controlling can weaken a college-goers' confidence levels, which increases their stress. These students are less confident in determining what is good or bad for them and more likely to feel incompetent.

Also, researchers found that some parental involvement can boost a child's confidence and is good for their emotional and social well-being.

College administrators feel that parents of college-goers, instead of reducing their levels of control over their children, tend to increase their control making life tough for these students, according to a news release.

The study included 297 American undergraduate students, aged 18-23 years. The students were asked to evaluate their mothers' parenting style and rate themselves on the basis of their own competitiveness, anxiety, depression, life satisfaction, etc.

Study results showed that children of over-controlling parents had higher levels of anxiety and were more likely to not be able to get along with others. Also, they had high levels of depression and low levels of life-satisfaction.

"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," researchers said in a news release. They add that although parents might feel they are supporting their kids, often they might be doing the opposite by weakening the child's self-worth.

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

Previous work on the helicopter style of parenting has been linked to higher anxiety levels during early childhood, lower engagement in school activities and lower levels of physical activity

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