project . 2021 - 2026 . On going


Better safe than sorry? Identifying causes of overprotective parenting in a changing social world
Open Access mandate for Publications and Research data
European Commission
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 950289 Call for proposal: ERC-2020-STG
Funded under: H2020 | ERC | ERC-STG Overall Budget: 1,499,970 EURFunder Contribution: 1,499,970 EUR
Status: On going
01 Apr 2021 (Started) 31 Mar 2026 (Ending)

Popular and scientific accounts describe how the phenomenon of overprotective parenting (also labeled “helicopter parenting” or “overparenting”) is on the rise. This evolution is highly problematic, as it puts future generations of adolescents and parents at risk for mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Although past research offered some insights into the causes of overprotection, thereby identifying a number of parent-related and child-related determinants, there is no systematic research on the societal, economic, and cultural causes of overprotective parenting. By bringing together theories from multiple disciplines (including developmental psychology, social psychology, sociology, economics, and gender studies), the aim of this project is to test whether overprotection is rooted in parents’ context-related representations, such as their perceptions of societal expectations about how parents ought to raise children. Second, I will examine whether specific characteristic of their cultural context shape these representations and intensify their tendency to engage in overprotective parenting. Third, I aim to identify parental risk and resilience factors, which explain why some parents are either vulnerable or immune to these socio-cultural pressures. To address these research goals, I will adopt a multi-method approach, relying on longitudinal, experimental, observational and cross-cultural research. The present project has the potential to generate a paradigm shift in the study of overprotective parenting, and in the field of developmental psychology more generally, by highlighting the fundamental importance of considering the complexities related to the socio-economic and cultural context in which parent-child interactions take place. Further, findings may be highly informative for policy-makers and practitioners, and, accordingly, may help to better equip parents for facing the challenges of parenthood in a complex and changing social world.

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