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  • Less Controlling Parents Raise Happier Children, Study Says

    Are you helicopter parent? Better step back for a bit and read on.
  • happy child holding mom and dad's hands

    Photo from Flickr Creative Commons

    Definitely, every mom—nay, every parent has been guilty of hovering too much on their kids. From caring for them when they were still helpless little babies to helping them learn how to walk and so on, it is definitely a challenge letting go of their hand bit by bit. But, alas, every parent must.

    A life-long study led by the University College London monitored the mental wellbeing of people from England, Scotland, and Wales. More than 2,000 participants, all born in 1946, were tracked from birth all the way to the present day, to see the impact that parenting styles had on their lifelong well-being. The participants were questioned regarding their mental health and well-being in their adolescence, in their 30s and 40s, and from the ages of 60 to 64.

    “We found that people whose parents showed warmth and responsiveness had higher life satisfaction and better mental well-being throughout early, middle, and late adulthood,” explains the study’s lead author, Dr. Mai Stafford from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health & Ageing at UCL. He adds that psychological control, such as for example, not allowing children to make their own decisions, invading their privacy, and fostering dependence, was significantly associated with a person’s lower life satisfaction and mental wellbeing. These parenting ways hinder a child’s However, behavioral control or discipline techniques, such as setting a bedtime schedule or TV time, did not have any significant effect on a person’s mental health.


    Previous studies have already been conducted on how parenting styles affect child development, but this is one of the first to determine how parenting affects a child’s happiness over a lifetime. The study was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

    Because all parents are to a certain extent controlling, parents need to find a good balance between caring for the children and letting them learn and be on their own. No matter what parents do, they wouldn’t be able to shield their kids from getting hurt whether physically or emotionally—the kids need to experience these first hand and learn how to cope. As educational psychologist Michele Borba writes, “The long and the short is: If we keep hovering, we'll rob our kids of an essential trait for L.I.F.E. called self-reliance!"

    Related: "9 Signs You're A Helicopter Mom"



    September 4, 2015. “Controlling parents 'harm future mental health'”(bbc.com)
    September 4, 2015. “Children of more caring, less controlling parents live happier lives” (ucl.ac.uk)
    September 4, 2015. “Children whose parents are less controlling lead happier lives says study” (mirror.co.uk)
    September 4, 2015. “Kids with overly controlling parents grow up to be less happy, study suggests” (sciencelaert.com

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