Helicopter Parenting, Self-Control, and School Burnout among Emerging Adults

  • Hayley LoveEmail author
  • Ross W. May
  • Ming Cui
  • Frank D. Fincham
Original Paper



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.


Emerging adulthood Gender Helicopter parenting School burnout Self-control 


Author Contributions

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.

Ethical Approval

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

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hayley Love
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ross W. May
    • 2
  • Ming Cui
    • 1
  • Frank D. Fincham
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family and Child ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Family InstituteFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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