Are You A Controlling Parent? Why It’s Time To Change

When our older children tell us we’re being over-controlling, we may be increasing their chances of getting depression if we don’t back off, say experts in mental health. A project by the University of Mary Washington indicates that we could improve the psychological health of our kids by giving them more space as they get older.

Being in control

As parents of the very young we’re used to making many decisions on their behalf to keep them healthy and safe. But as they get older some of us don’t give our children the independence they may crave. Experts from the university examined the relationships of university students and their parents via questionnaires. About 300 students filled in online surveys that asked them how much control their parents tried to exert on their lives. The questionnaires also inquired about the life satisfaction of the participants and whether they suffered from any mental health issues.

Impact on mental health

The study found that graduates who had a mother that was overly controlling were more likely to develop psychological problems, including depression and anxiety. The researchers explained that adults whose parents try and maintain lots of control over their children stop them from developing their own coping mechanisms to deal with negative feelings. As they cannot process stresses so well on their own, then this could leave them open to psychological distress. They also showed a link between a lack of independence due to helicopter parenting that left graduates susceptible to depression.

How much control?

Experts say that some control over children’s lives keeps them safe, but we should recognise when it’s time to take a step back from making their decisions. As our children age, they desire more freedom over their life’s choices and it’s important that we consider giving them the space they need to be happy.



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