BOSTON Overly protective parents might be leaving a lasting impact on their child's personality, and not in a good way, a new study finds.
The results show having so-called "helicopter parents" was associated with being dependent, neurotic and less open, a slew of personality traits that are generally thought of as undesirable.
The study, which surveyed college freshman, is one of the first to try to define exactly what helicopter parenting is, and measure it. The term was originally coined by college admissions personnel when they started to notice a change in parents of prospective students parents would call the admissions office and try to intervene in a process that had previously just been between the student and the college, said study researcher Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in N.H.
While the findings are only preliminary, and more studies are needed to back up the results, they suggest this type of over-parenting might lead to children who are ultimately not ready to leave the nest.
"I think what the helicopter parents did is they decided, 'OK we know what good parenting looks like, we're just going to ratchet it up to a new level, and our kids are going to be even better,'" Montgomery said. "The problem is, when they ratcheted it up, they went too far, and in fact, caused an expansion of childhood or adolescence."