The Relation Between Helicopter Parenting and Satisfaction with Life in Emerging Adults Living with Their Parents: The Moderating Role of Gender and Age Group

Rafaela Cardoso Garcia, Margarida Pedroso de Lima, Carlos Carona


Objective. Over the last couple of decades, a trend of emerging adults living with parents has been rising. However, little is known about the developmental specificities and impact of parenting practices in this context. The objectives of this study were: to compare the levels of helicopter parenting and the levels of life satisfaction by gender (men versus women) and by age group (late adolescents versus young adults); to analyze the relationship between helicopter parenting, life satisfaction levels and age; and to investigate the moderating role of gender and age group in the relationship between helicopter parenting and life satisfaction.

Materials and Methods. Self-report questionnaires were administered to a sample of 173 emerging adults (aged 18-29) living with their parents in Portugal. In order to examine differences in helicopter parenting and levels of life satisfaction, Student’s ttest was performed for independent samples. To analyze the association between helicopter parenting, life satisfaction and age, Pearson’s correlation coefficients were calculated. To detect possible interaction effects, regression-based analyses were performed; the SPSS macro PROCESS was used to optimize this procedure.

Results. Life satisfaction levels differed according to age group, with late adolescents reporting higher levels of life satisfaction than young adults. Helicopter parenting was negatively correlated with life satisfaction, and life satisfaction was negatively correlated with age. The developmental variables of gender and age group moderated the association between helicopter parenting and life satisfaction.

Conclusions. Interventions with emerging adults that aim to prevent the negative effects of helicopter parenting and increase life satisfaction must account for the developmental specificities associated with gender roles and different age groups.

Key Words: Emerging Adulthood ■ Cohabitation ■ Helicopter Parenting ■ Life Satisfaction

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