Dimensionality of Helicopter Parenting and Relations to Emotional, Decision-Making, and Academic Functioning in Emerging Adults

Assessment. 2018 Oct;25(7):841-857. doi: 10.1177/1073191116665907. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


The current study tests the underlying structure of a multidimensional construct of helicopter parenting (HP), assesses reliability of the construct, replicates past relations of HP to poor emotional functioning, and expands the literature to investigate links of HP to emerging adults' decision-making and academic functioning. A sample of 377 emerging adults (66% female; ages 17-30; 88% European American) were administered several items assessing HP as well as measures of other parenting behaviors, depression, anxiety, decision-making style, grade point average, and academic functioning. Exploratory factor analysis results suggested a four-factor, 23-item measure that encompassed varying levels of parental involvement in the personal and professional lives of their children. A bifactor model was also fit to the data and suggested the presence of a reliable overarching HP factor in addition to three reliable subfactors. The fourth subfactor was not reliable and item variances were subsumed by the general HP factor. HP was found to be distinct from, but correlated in expected ways with, other reports of parenting behavior. HP was also associated with poorer functioning in emotional functioning, decision making, and academic functioning. Parents' information-seeking behaviors, when done in absences of other HP behaviors, were associated with better decision making and academic functioning.

Keywords: academic functioning; anxiety; decision making; depression; emerging adults; helicopter parenting; overprotection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Decision Making*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult