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An Examination of the Mediatory Role of Resilience in the Relationship Between Helicopter Parenting and Severity of Depressive Symptoms in Irish University Students

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Background: Helicopter parenting, a form of over-parenting involving the use of developmentally inappropriate strategies on the offspring, has been associated with depressive symptoms in university students. However, little research has examined the underlying mechanisms of this relationship. Resilience as the process of successful adaptation to adverse circumstances is proposed as a potential mediating factor.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine: (1) if helicopter parenting would predict depressive symptoms in Irish students; (2) if this relationship between helicopter parenting and severity of depressive symptoms was mediated by resilience; and (3) which aspects of resilience were significantly contributing to this mediation.

Method: Data from 208 Irish university students who completed online measures of helicopter parenting, resilience and current depressive symptoms' severity were analysed.

Results: Perceived helicopter parenting, including perception of over-protection and perception of intrusiveness and control, predicted severity of depressive symptoms. The relationship between perceived helicopter parenting and depressive symptoms was mediated via decreased resilience. Social resources, perception of the self, and perception of the future were the resilience components contributing the most significantly to this relationship mediation.

Conclusion: Future research in emerging adults needs to investigate helicopter parenting as a potential intervention target in the context of growing depression rates in both university students and the population in general. Longitudinal studies that follow children into adolescence and adulthood should seek to comprehensively assess the relationship between helicopter parenting, resilience development and depression.
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Keywords: Helicopter parenting; depressive symptoms; over parenting; resilience; university students; young/emerging adults

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • Adolescent Psychiatry publishes reports of original research, critical reviews of topics relevant to practitioners, clinical observations with analysis and discussion, analysis of philosophical, ethical or social aspects of the fields of psychiatry and mental health, case reports with discussions, letters, and position papers. Adolescent Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal, and the official journal of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, aims to provide mental health professionals who work with adolescents with current information relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in adolescence.
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