helicopter parenting, emerging adulthood, parenting, parent–child relationship


The purpose of this exploratory longitudinal study was to examine stability and change of helicopter parenting throughout the first few years of emerging adulthood and to examine child and parent–child relational factors that might predict helicopter parenting. Participants included 453 emerging adults from a northwestern city in the United States (51% female, 33% single-parent families) who participated in a 10-year longitudinal study, with the current study examining ages 19–21. Results revealed that (a) for both mothers and fathers, helicopter parenting decreased over time, (b) some child and relational factors predicted initial levels of helicopter parenting, but (c) the findings were somewhat different for mothers and fathers and for daughters and sons. The findings support the growing understanding that the links between helicopter parenting and child (mal)adjustment are nuanced and complex. Findings have implications for those who work with parents and young people in trying to promote flourishing during emerging adulthood.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J., Padilla-Walker, L. M., *McLean, R. (2020, onlinefirst). Parent, child, and relationship predictors of helicopter parenting in the transition to adulthood. Emerging Adulthood.

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