Springboarding on their previous study suggesting that helicopter parenting backfires, a research team recently concluded that extra love and support does not neutralize the negative effects of such an approach.
Helicopter parenting is defined as over-involvement in children's lives including making important decisions for them, solving their problems and intervening in their conflicts, say the researchers, who hail from Brigham Young University.
And the consequences of helicopter parenting on offspring can include low self-esteem and high-risk behavior like binge drinking, according to the researchers, whose first study indicated that children of helicopter parents are less engaged in school.
"From our past work, we thought there might be something positive about helicopter parenting under certain conditions, but we're just not finding it," says lead author Larry Nelson.
What's more, a lack of warmth combined with helicopter parenting is particularly detrimental to the well being of young adults, according to the study, published in the journal Emerging Adulthood.
In the study, 438 undergraduate students from four US universities self-reported on their parents' controlling behavior, their sense of self-worth and their risk behaviors and study habits.
Responses from the student participants, whose average age was 19, indicate an association between helicopter parenting with decreasing self-esteem and increasingly risky behavior, according to the study.
Loving parents are incapable of justifying their helicoptering, say the researchers, who say too much control is harmful in every circumstance.
"Overall, stepping in and doing for a child what the child developmentally should be doing for him or herself, is negative," says Nelson. "Regardless of the form of control, it's harmful at this time period."
Nelson advises parents not to overcompensate by stepping back too far, for young people need support from their parents -- just not control.
"Lack of control does not mean lack of involvement, warmth and support," he says.
In his team's first study on helicopter parenting, published in the Journal of Adolesence in 2012, they established that over-involvement in a child or young adult's life deprives them of the skills necessary for success in marriage, careers and adult social interactions.
© AFP/Relaxnews 2021