SALT LAKE CITY — Helicopter parenting may be less common than people think. And even when parents do hover a bit over their children — the hallmark of a helicopter parent — it’s only harmful if their motivation is control rather than warmth.

That’s according to new BYU research that warns parents to check the motivation behind their interactions with their offspring. Warmth is good, but controlling behavior creates bad outcomes for children. The study was published in the journal Emerging Adulthood and examined the relationship between young adults and their parents.

“Contrary to what we hear, we just didn’t find parents who were hovering too much. We found parents who were too controlling, and that was very damaging,” said Laura Padilla-Walker, professor and associate dean in the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences at Brigham Young University.

” Is the parental involvement supporting the child and helping make the transition into adulthood, or is it controlling and manipulative? “
Larry Nelson, professor in BYU’s School of Family Life