Helicopter Parenting, Self-Control, and School Burnout among Emerging Adults
We examined the mediating role of self-control in the relation between helicopter parenting and college student school burnout and whether the relation between helicopter parenting and college student school burnout varied by parental gender. Specifically, we hypothesized that (1) there would be a positive association between helicopter parenting and school burnout through lower reports of self-control and (2) perceptions of paternal helicopter parenting would have a greater negative impact on school burnout compared to maternal helicopter parenting.
In an online survey, college students (N= 427) reported on both maternal and paternal helicopter parenting, self-control, school burnout, and demographics.
Results from structural equation modeling suggested that self-control fully mediated the relation between perceptions of maternal helicopter parenting and feelings of school burnout, and partially mediated the relation between perceptions of paternal helicopter parenting and school burnout. Further, perceptions of paternal helicopter parenting had a stronger direct association with college student school burnout compared to perceptions of maternal helicopter parenting.
The results of our study suggest that helicopter parenting behaviors may hinder the development of self-control skills among emerging adult college students, which are associated with feelings of school burnout. Further, helicopter fathers may have a more direct negative impact on college students’ feelings of school burnout than helicopter mothers due to violating their child’s expectations of the typical fathering role. The implications of the findings for practices in higher education were also discussed.
KeywordsEmerging adulthood Gender Helicopter parenting School burnout Self-control
H.L.: proposed the research questions, performed data analyses and wrote the paper. R.M.: collaborated with the design of the study and editing of the manuscript. M.C.: designed and executed the overall project and assisted with data analysis and manuscript editing. F.F.: assisted with data collection and editing of the manuscript.
This work was supported by a grant from the National Council on Family Relations Innovation Grant Program. Opinions, findings, conclusion or recommendations expressed within this work do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Council on Family Relations.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Florida State University and Florida International University.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Arnett, J. J. (2015). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. (2nd ed.), New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bask, M., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2013). Burned out to drop out: exploring the relationship between school burnout and school dropout. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 28, 511–528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-012-0126-5.
- Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Self-regulation, ego depletion, and inhibition. Neuropsychologia, 65, 313–319. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.08.012.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. F. (1996). Self-regulation failure: an overview. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli0701_1.
- Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). The strength model of self-control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 351–355. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00534.x.
- Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: a cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88, 354–364. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.88.4.354.
- Buchanan, T., Das, A., & McFarlane, A. (2017). Gender differences in within-couple influences on work–family balance satisfaction: when benefits become threats. Journal of Family Studies, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/13229400.2017.1335225.
- Cline, F., & Fay, J. (1990). Parenting with love and logic. Colorado Springs, CO: Pinon Press.Google Scholar
- de Ridder, D. T., Lensvelt-Mulders, G., Finkenauer, C., Stok, F. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2012). Taking stock of self-control: a meta-analysis of how trait self-control relates to a wide range of behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 76–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868311418749.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Devault, A., Forget, G., & Dubeau, D. (2015). Fathering: promoting positive father involvement. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
- Elder, G. H., & Giele, J. Z. (Eds). (2009). The craft of life course research. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Grossmann, K., Grossmann, K. E., Kindler, H., Zimmermann, P. (2008). A wider view of attachment and exploration: the influence of mothers and fathers on the development of psychological security from infancy to young adulthood. In: J., Cassidy, & P. R., Shaver, (Eds). Handbook of attachment: theory, research, and clinical applications. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Hosley, C. A., & Montemayor, R. (1997). Fathers and adolescents. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (pp. 162–178). Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.Google Scholar
- Hunt, J. (2008). Make room for daddy… and mommy: helicopter parents are here. The Journal of Academic Administration in Higher Education, 4, 9–11.Google Scholar
- Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Kouros, C. D., Pruitt, M. M., Ekas, N. V., Kiriaki, R., & Sunderland, M. (2017). Helicopter parenting, autonomy support, and college students’ mental health and well-being: the moderating role of sex and ethnicity. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 939–949. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0614-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Love, H., Cui, M., Allen, J., Fincham, F. D., & May, R. W. (2019). Helicopter parenting and female university students’ anxiety: does parents’ gender matter? Families, Relationships and Societies. https://doi.org/10.1332/204674319×15653625640669.
- Luebbe, A. M., Mancini, K. J., Kiel, E. J., Spangler, B. R., Semlak, J. L., & Fussner, L. M. (2016). Dimensionality of helicopter parenting and relations to emotional, decision-making, and academic functioning in emerging adults. Assessment, 25, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191116665907.
- Maccoby, E. E., Martin, J. A., Mussen, P. H., & Hetherington, E. M. (1983). Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Socialization, personality, and social development (pp. 1–101). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- May, R. W., Bauer, K. N., & Fincham, F. D. (2015a). School burnout: diminished academic and cognitive performance. Learning and Individual Differences, 42, 126–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2015.07.015.
- Muthén, B., & Asparouhov, T. (2003). Modeling interactions between latent and observed continuous variables using maximum-likelihood estimation in Mplus. Mplus Web Notes, 6, 1–9.Google Scholar
- Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Nelson, L. J. (2012). Black hawk down?: Establishing helicopter parenting as a distinct construct from other forms of parental control during emerging adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1177–1190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.03.007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Parke, R. D., & Buriel, R. (1998). Socialization in the family: ethnic and ecological perspectives. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Vol. 3: Social, emotional, and personality development, 5th Edn, (pp. 463–552). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Savage, M., & Petree, C. (2015). National survey of college and university parent programs: Survey conducted spring 2015. http://www1.umn.edu/parent/about/survey-reports/.
- Schiffrin, H. H., Liss, M., Miles-McLean, H., Geary, K. A., Erchull, M. J., & Tashner, T. (2014). Helping or hovering? The effects of helicopter parenting on college students’ well-being. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23, 548–557. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-013-9716-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- van Ingen, D. J., Freiheit, S. R., Steinfeldt, J. A., Moore, L. L., Wimer, D. J., Knutt, A. D., & Roberts, A. (2015). Helicopter parenting: the effect of an overbearing caregiving style on peer attachment and self‐efficacy. Journal of College Counseling, 18, 7–20. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1882.2015.00065.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar