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Helicopter Parenting and Adjustment Outcomes in Young Adulthood: A Consideration of the Mediating Roles of Mastery and Self-Regulation

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The present study considered whether helicopter parenting in emerging adulthood is linked to adjustment outcomes (i.e., social competence, prosocial behavior, depression, substance use, and lifetime criminality) above and beyond other parenting practices (i.e., acceptance, psychological and firm control), and whether any associations are mediated by personal mastery and/or self-regulation.


Young adults ages 18 to 24 years responded to anonymous internet surveys (N= 302; 64.9% female, 79.4% white, 9.1% Hispanic).


High helicopter parenting was linked to low mastery, self-regulation, and social competence, and to high depression. Only associations with depression were attenuated when other parenting practices were controlled. Direct effects of helicopter parenting on depression and social competence were mitigated to non-significance when self-regulation and/or mastery were modeled. Helicopter parenting and parental acceptance had indirect effects on all forms of adjustment via self-regulation, as well as indirect effects via mastery for depression.


Collectively, the findings suggest that helicopter parenting has comparatively stronger impacts for socio-emotional versus behavioral adjustment, operating indirectly via self-regulation versus mastery.

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This research was supported by internal grants from West Virginia University. Research assistance was provided by Debra Blaacker, Katelyn Peek, Meredith McGinley, and Rebecca Shriver.

Author Contributions

K.L.M. designed and executed the study, conducted data analyses, wrote and revised the paper. M.L.M. collected the data, prepared datasets, and collaborated in writing portions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kristin L. Moilanen.

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The authors declare that they have no potential conflicts of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants 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.

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

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Moilanen, K.L., Lynn Manuel, M. Helicopter Parenting and Adjustment Outcomes in Young Adulthood: A Consideration of the Mediating Roles of Mastery and Self-Regulation. J Child Fam Stud 28, 2145–2158 (2019).

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