Is Hovering Smothering or Loving? An Examination of Parental Warmth as a Moderator of Relations Between Helicopter Parenting and Emerging Adults’ Indices of Adjustment


helicopter parenting, emerging adulthood, warmth, parental involvement, parental control


The purpose of this study was to examine the moderating role of parental warmth in the relation between helicopter parenting and indices of child adjustment (i.e., self-worth and school engagement) and maladjustment (i.e., risk behaviors) in emerging adulthood. Participants included 438 undergraduate students from four universities in the United States (Mage ¼ 19.65, SD ¼ 2.00, range ¼ 18–29; 320 women). Regression analyses established that increased helicopter parenting was associated with lower levels of self-worth and higher levels of risk behaviors for those emerging adults who reported low levels of maternal warmth from their parents (especially their mothers), but not for those with high levels of warmth. The discussion focuses on the moderating role of parental warmth and the importance of emerging adult perceptions of the parent–child relationship.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J., Padilla-Walker, L. M., & *Nielson, M. G. (2015). Is helicopter parenting smothering or loving? Parental warmth as a moderator between helicopter parenting and emerging adults’ indices of adjustment. Emerging Adulthood, 3, 282-285.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Emerging Adulthood




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor