It's easy to see how having a helicopter parent could harm a child's emotional growth, but a new research shows that the effect isn't the same for boys and girls.
Professor of psychology Chrystyna Kouros at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, measured the impact of helicopter parenting and fostering independence (or autonomy support) and discovered that the two have different effects on the sexes.
It turns out that helicopter parenting harms girls more than boys, and the lack of fostering independence has the opposite effect:
“Just because mom and dad aren’t helicopter parents, doesn’t necessarily mean they are supporting their young adult in making his or her own choices,” Kouros said. “The parent may be uninvolved, so we also wanted to know if parents are actually encouraging their student to be independent and make their own choices.”
The researchers found that young women are negatively affected by helicopter parenting, while young men suffer when parents don’t encourage independence.
“The sex difference was surprising,” said Kouros, an expert in adolescent depression. “In Western culture in particular, boys are socialized more to be independent, assertive and take charge, while girls are more socialized toward relationships, caring for others, and being expressive and compliant. Our findings showed that a lack of autonomy support — failure to encourage independence — was more problematic for males, but didn’t affect the well-being of females. Conversely, helicopter parenting — parents who are overinvolved — proved problematic for girls, but not boys.”