It’s a small study, but the conclusions do not surprise:

Researcher Holly Schiffrin from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia found so-called helicopter parenting negatively affected college students by undermining their need to feel autonomous and competent.

Her study found students with over-controlling parents were more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives while the number of hyper-parents was increasing with economic fears fueling concerns over youngsters’ chances of success.


Belinda Goldsmith quotes the author:

“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.”


Knowing the right time to let go is very tricky for parents. Older teenagers and young adults can live with and learn from many of the “mistakes” they make. But enough young people make very bad mistakes that are sometimes catastrophic for themselves and those they know. As parents, we try to protect our kids from the mistakes they make as well as from the mistakes of others. Our children — like our adult selves — will always be in some danger. Does any parent really ever let go?

One more thing:

Schiffrin said the increase in technology had changed the involvement of parents in their children’s college lives as the once-a-week phone call home was replaced with regular texting, emails and messaging.


Schiffrin is mistaken in believing that better parental-child connectivity through technology is a bad thing. The transition to college — especially when living or commuting away from home — causes a great deal of anxiety in many young students. There aren’t many other people who are as well-equipped as parents to identify despair and help their own children navigate through this stressful time in their lives.

Read article at Reuters here.

Read study here.