Over-controlling parents make college-aged children depressed, study shows

Andrew Sachais Contributor
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Over-controlling parents can be doing more harm than good to their college-aged children, shows a study released Wednesday.

Holly Schiffrin, a researcher from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, found that so-called “helicopter” parenting negatively affects college students by undermining their need to feel autonomous.

The study claims students that had parents with controlling tendencies were more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives, while the number of hyper-parents was increasing with the growing emphasis on secondary education in the workforce.

“You expect parents with younger kids to be very involved but the problem is that these children are old enough to look after themselves and their parents are not backing off,” Schiffrin, an associate professor of psychology, told Reuters.

“To find parents so closely involved with their college lives, contacting their tutors and running their schedules, is something new and on the increase. It does not allow independence and the chance to learn from mistakes.”

The study, published Tuesday in Springer’s Journal of Child and Family Studies, was based on an online survey of 297 U.S. undergraduate students in which students described their mothers’ parenting behavior and their own autonomy and researchers assessed their happiness and life satisfaction levels.

The study comes at a time when there is much debate surrounding the issue of parental control and its effects on child success.

The competitive social structure that requires jostling for top college slots and the best jobs has also been a factor in the involvement of parents in their child’s college lives.

Schiffrin said the increase in technology has made the traditional once-a-week phone call to mom and dad into constant texting, emails and messaging.

She added that to combat such issues from getting worse, a rising numbers of universities are starting to run parental orientation to help encourage parents to give their children more freedom.

Tags : education
Andrew Sachais