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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Arnett, J. J. (2015). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. (2nd ed.), New York: Oxford University Press.
Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: a theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55, 469–480. https://doi.org/10.1037//0003-066X.55.5.469.
Ballash, N., Leyfer, O., Buckley, A. F., & Woodruff-Borden, J. (2006). Parental control in the etiology of anxiety. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 9, 113–133. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-006-0007-z.
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.
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.
Baumrind, D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75, 43–88. 1967-05780-001.
Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 56–95. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431691111004.
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.
Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.238.
Bradley-Geist, J. C., & Olson-Buchanan, J. B. (2014). Helicopter parents: an examination of the correlates of over-parenting of college students. Education Training, 56, 314–328. https://doi.org/10.1108/ET-10-2012-0096.
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.
Buchanan, T., McFarlane, A., & Das, A. (2016). A counterfactual analysis of the gender gap in parenting time: explained and unexplained variances at different stages of parenting. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 47, 193–219. https://doi.org/10.3138/jcfs.47.2.193.
Burke, T. J., Segrin, C., & Farris, K. L. (2018). Young adult and parent perceptions of facilitation: associations with overparenting, family functioning, and student adjustment. Journal of Family Communication, 18, 233–247. https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2018.1467913.
Cline, F., & Fay, J. (1990). Parenting with love and logic. Colorado Springs, CO: Pinon Press.
Cui, M., Allen, J., Fincham, F. D., May, R. W., & Love, H. (2019). Helicopter parenting, self-regulatory processes, and alcohol use among college students. Journal of Adult Development, 26, 97–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-018-9301-5.
Cui, M., Darling, C., Coccia, C., Fincham, F. D., & May, R. W. (2019). Indulgent parenting, helicopter parenting, and well-being of parents and emerging adults. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28, 860–871. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-01314-3.
Cui, M., Graber, J., Metz, A., & Darling, C. (2019). Parental indulgence, self-regulation, and young adults’ behavioral and emotional problems. Journal of Family Studies, 25, 233–249. https://doi.org/10.1080/13229400.2016.1237884.
Darlow, V., Norvilitis, J. M., & Schuetze, P. (2017). The relationship between helicopter parenting and adjustment to college. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 2291–2298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0751-3.
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. (2001). The job demands-resources model of burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 499–512. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.86.3.499.
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.
Devault, A., Forget, G., & Dubeau, D. (2015). Fathering: promoting positive father involvement. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Elder, G. H., & Giele, J. Z. (Eds). (2009). The craft of life course research. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Finkenauer, C., Engels, R., & Baumeister, R. (2005). Parenting behaviour and adolescent behavioural and emotional problems: the role of self-control. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29, 58–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/01650250444000333.
Friese, M., Frankenbach, J., Job, V., & Loschelder, D. D. (2017). Does self-control training improve self-control? A meta-analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12, 1077–1099. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617697076.
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.
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.
Hunt, J. (2008). Make room for daddy… and mommy: helicopter parents are here. The Journal of Academic Administration in Higher Education, 4, 9–11.
Klein, M. B., & Pierce, J. D. (2009). Parental care aids, but parental overprotection hinders, college adjustment. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 11, 167–181. https://doi.org/10.2190/CS.11.2.a.
Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Kotabe, H. P., & Hofmann, W. (2015). On integrating the components of self-control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10, 618–638. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691615593382.
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.
Krumpal, I. (2013). Determinants of social desirability bias in sensitive surveys: a literature review. Quality & Quantity, 47, 2025–2047. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-011-9640-9.
Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (2017). Burnout and engagement: contributions to a new vision. Burnout Research, 5, 55–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.burn.2017.04.003.
LeMoyne, T., & Buchanan, T. (2011). Does “hovering” matter? Helicopter parenting and its effect on well-being. Sociological Spectrum, 31, 399–418. https://doi.org/10.1080/02732173.2011.574038.
Leon, M. R., Halbesleben, J. R. B., & Paustian-Underdahl, S. C. (2015). A dialectical perspective on burnout and engagement. Burnout Research, 2, 87–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.burn.2015.06.002.
Lewis, C., & Lamb, M. E. (2003). Fathers’ influences on children’s development: the evidence from two-parent families. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 18, 211–228. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03173485.
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.
Mandara, J., & Pikes, C. L. (2008). Guilt trips and love withdrawal: Does mothers’ use of psychological control predict depressive symptoms among African American adolescents? Family Relations, 57(5), 602–612. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2008.00526.x.
Manzeske, D. P., & Stright, A. D. (2009). Parenting styles and emotion regulation: the role of behavioral and psychological control during young adulthood. Journal of Adult Development, 16, 223 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-009-9068-9.
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.
May, R. W., Sanchez-Gonzalez, M. A., & Fincham, F. D. (2015b). School burnout: increased sympathetic vasomotor tone and attenuated ambulatory diurnal blood pressure variability in young adult women. Stress, 18, 11–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2014.04.007.
Moilanen, K. L., Rasmussen, K. E., & Padilla‐Walker, L. M. (2015). Bidirectional associations between self‐regulation and parenting styles in early adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25, 246–262. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12125.
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.
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.
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.
Reed, K., Duncan, J. M., Lucier-Greer, M., Fixelle, C., & Ferraro, A. J. (2016). Helicopter parenting and emerging adult self-efficacy: implications for mental and physical health. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 36, 3136–3149. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0466-x.
Rousseau, S., & Scharf, M. (2015). “I will guide you” the indirect link between overparenting and young adults׳ adjustment. Psychiatry Research, 228, 826–834. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.016.
Russell, A., Aloa, V., Feder, T., Glover, A., Miller, H., & Palmer, G. (1998). Sex-based differences in parenting styles in a sample with preschool children. Australian Journal of Psychology, 50, 89–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049539808257539.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68.
Salmela-Aro, K. (2017). Dark and bright sides of thriving – school burnout and engagement in the Finnish context. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 14, 337–349. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2016.1207517.
Salmela-Aro, K., Kiuru, N., Pietikäinen, M., & Jokela, J. (2008). Does school matter? The role of school context in adolescents’ school-related burnout. European Psychologist, 13, 12–23. https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040.13.1.12.
Salmela-Aro, K., & Upadyaya, K. (2014). Developmental trajectories of school burnout: evidence from two longitudinal studies. Learning and Individual Differences, 36, 60–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2014.10.016.
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/.
Schaufeli, W. B., Martinez, M. I., Pinto, A. M., Salanova, M., & Bakker, A. B. (2002). Burnout and engagement in university students: A cross national study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 33(5), 464–481. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022102033005003.
Schaufeli, W. B., Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (2009). Burnout: 35 years of research and practice. Career Development International, 14, 204–220. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430910966406.
Schiffrin, H. H., & Liss, M. (2017). The effects of helicopter parenting on academic motivation. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 1472–1480. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0658-z.
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.
Seibert, G. S., Bauer, K. N., May, R. W., & Fincham, F. D. (2017). Emotion regulation and academic underperformance: the role of school burnout. Learning and Individual Differences, 60, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2017.10.001.
Seibert, G. S., May, R. W., Fitzgerald, M. C., & Fincham, F. D. (2016). Understanding school burnout: does self-control matter? Learning and Individual Differences, 49, 120–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.05.024.
Steiger, J. H., Shapiro, A., & Browne, M. W. (1985). On the multivariate asymptotic distribution of sequential chi-square statistics. Psychometrika, 50, 253–264. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02294104.
Tangney, J. P., Baumeister, R. F., & Boone, A. L. (2004). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success. Journal of Personality, 72, 271–324. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00263.x.
Tuominen-Soini, H., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2014). Schoolwork engagement and burnout among Finnish high school students and young adults: Profiles, progressions, and educational outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 50, 649–662. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033898.
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.
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.
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.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Love, H., May, R.W., Cui, M. et al. Helicopter Parenting, Self-Control, and School Burnout among Emerging Adults. J Child Fam Stud 29, 327–337 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01560-z
- Emerging adulthood
- Helicopter parenting
- School burnout