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

Abstract

Objectives

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.

Methods

In an online survey, college students (N= 427) reported on both maternal and paternal helicopter parenting, self-control, school burnout, and demographics.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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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.

Funding

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.

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Correspondence to Hayley Love.

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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

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Keywords

  • Emerging adulthood
  • Gender
  • Helicopter parenting
  • School burnout
  • Self-control