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04-07-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 11/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 11/2018

Overparenting and Narcissism in Young Adults: The Mediating Role of Psychological Control

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 11/2018
Nathan A. Winner, Bonnie C. Nicholson


Overparenting, or “helicopter parenting,” can be generally characterized as parenting that is well-intentioned, but over-involved and intrusive. This style of parenting has been especially highlighted in the lives of young adults, who may be inhibited by this form of parenting in the appropriate development of autonomy and independence. Overparenting shares conceptual similarities with parents’ psychological control practices, which involve emotional and psychological manipulation of children (e.g., inducing guilt, withholding love as a form of control). Although these constructs contain key differences, both have been linked to narcissism in young adults, by way of parental over-involvement in children’s lives. Thus, we sought to explore parental psychological control as a mediator between overparenting and narcissism, including in regard to both grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic phenotypes. Participants included 380 young adult college students (age range: 18–26 years) who completed the Pathological Narcissism Inventory, as well as reports of their parents’ behaviors related to overparenting and psychological control. Mediation analyses through Process in SPSS supported the hypothesized role of parental psychological control as a mediator between overparenting and narcissistic traits, including traits related to both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Effect sizes for each analysis were modest. This study further clarifies the nature of overparenting, and speaks to the need for further research in establishing the mechanisms by which overparenting may lead to narcissistic traits among young adults.

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