Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2018

Degree Name

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Communication Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Angela Cirucci


The topic is the effects of Helicopter Parenting on the millennial generation, specifically focusing on conflict, mental health, substance abuse and parent-child communication. By performing thorough research on our millennial peers, we hope to uncover common themes among helicopter parents and the damaging and often life-long effects that they have on their children. The Family Systems Theory and Baumrind’s Parenting Styles will be used to help better understand the effects of this parenting.

Many theories explain how families communicate and how they build and maintain relationships. The Family Systems theory correlates with parenting and how what one person does in the family subsequently affects the other members, and can be applied directly to helicopter parenting and how that stresses the student. The family as a system is an ideal baseline theory to use for the topic of helicopter parenting, because though it is broad in scope, it explains that each family member is affected by another’s behavior. Looking specifically at parenting, the systems theory plays a role; a parent’s helicopter behavior has a direct consequence on the child, such as anxiety and stress. (Segrin, Givertz, & Montgomery, 2013). The most important takeaway from the systems theory is that every action of a family member impacts the actions and lives of another.

Parents must be able to guide their child in order for them to learn and grow. There are three different parenting typologies (authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive) created by Baumrind (1966) that have been identified that characterize how parents discipline and treat their children as they develop. These styles are important to understand, because they provide the baseline for how parents raise their children, and subsequently, how their children develop. Evidence suggests that authoritative parenting leads to the best outcomes for child care (Baumrind, 1971; Roopnarine, Krishnakumar, Mitindogan, & Evans, 2006). Children with authoritative parents are self-sufficient, confident, and overall have better moods than children with parents who displayed either of the other two styles (Brooks 1998; Segrin & Flora, 2005).

The purpose of this study is to find the connections between helicopter parenting and student’s self esteem, to understand young adults perception of helicopter parenting, and to help students cope with helicopter parenting. Qualitative surveys will be used in our study to answer our research questions:

RQ1: What is the connection between helicopter parenting and students’ self-esteem?

RQ2: What are young adults’ perceptions on helicopter parenting?

We would ideally like to survey communications studies students on their perceptions of helicoptering parenting using the Rosenberg’s Self Esteem Scale and Parker’s Parental Bonding Instrument.

This is the best and most effective way to measure millennials’ relationships with their parents. We feel as though we can get the most accurate data by using surveys and handing them out to various Communication Studies students.


The method we will be using in our study is a slightly revised version of Parker’s (1979) Parental Bonding Instrument. Parker conducted this scale to determine relationships between his participants and their parents. While using this type of survey we will be able to determine the type of parenting styles each of participants received. Our survey will also include Rosenberg’s (1965) Self Esteem Self-Esteem Scale, which will determine how millenials feel about themselves. We match these two surveys together, so that our participants will have their relationships with their parent(s) fresh in their minds as they consider their feelings about themselves. This will also help us to determine the correlations between parenting styles and self esteem. In order to get survey results, we will post it on social media platforms along with class pages at Kutztown University. Our results will help us find different ways that millenials can cope with helicopter parenting, since mental illness amongst college students is rising. We feel as if our survey results can contribute to pinpointing which communications skills, methods, and parenting styles are most effective in a family system.



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