PITTSBURGH— Being a “helicopter” or “free-roaming explorer” parent can determine the direction of America’s political future. A new study reveals that a person’s parenting style can influence whether their child grows up to be a conservative or a liberal.
A team from Carnegie Mellon University has found that the two main philosophies for raising children lead to very different outcomes, which may even predict that child’s voting habits and feelings about education, elder care and medicine. Overall, the team found that helicopter parenting (or discipline) leads children to lean more conservatively in the future. Meanwhile, exploratory parenting on the loose (or being a nurturing mother or father) leads children to become more liberal.
“There is a new dimension of parenting philosophy that has emerged [in recent decades] – parenting on the loose or in a helicopter,” Danny Oppenheimer, a professor of social and policy sciences at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said in an academic statement. “If the [helicopter parenting] trend continues, we can expect people to approve of greater intervention in personal freedom in most social institutions.
What is Helicopter Parenting?
During the study, Oppenheimer and his colleague Christian Lindke focused on the concept of helicopter parenting, which they describe as “a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of his or her children.” . On the other hand, loose parenting is usually the opposite extreme in terms of parenting styles. To compare them, the researchers conducted three separate experiments.
The first posed 19 questions to 99 participants to identify the factors that influence their acceptance of policies that impact freedom or autonomy. Almost half of these people had children.
“I was surprised at how much these results intersected with political parties,” says Lindke, a doctoral student at the Center for Social Innovation at the University of California-Riverside. “Each party crosses the line of paternalism depending on the question being asked.”
In the second study, the team worked with 150 people, trying to find the causal link between parenting styles and political preferences. During the experiment, the team manipulated the content of a newspaper to lean for, against, or stay neutral on certain topics. However, the team could not find a definitive link.
Finally, the researchers brought together 1,650 people, 60% of whom were parents. The results of this test confirmed their results from the first experiment. Moreover, the paternalistic approach extended beyond government policy and also reflected their beliefs regarding medicine, education, business, peer relations, religion, athletics, and caregiving. .
What is the impact of parenthood on politics?
“By knowing people’s preferences for helicopter parenting, we can predict people’s views on autonomy versus coercion in business, religion, sports, peer relationships, medicine, politics. “, says Oppenheimer. “We can even predict how middle-aged people will treat our aging parents with regard to autonomy, which has implications for geriatric health.”
The researchers say that previous studies have found that helicopter parenting harms child development. These reports argue that overprotective parents reduce their child’s levels of autonomy, student engagement, and life satisfaction. Regardless of these findings, the team says this parenting style is becoming increasingly popular with parents.
“I don’t want to get alarmist, because we really don’t know if the effects on children would be the same as the effects on citizens,” Oppenheimer concludes. “But if being airlifted has similar effects on adults as it does on children, we would expect to see increased mental health issues and lower self-efficacy in society at large.”
The findings appear in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.