A recent study by University College London tracked the mental health of over 5,000 adults from 1946 to the present. The participants filled in a survey about how they were raised and this was then compared to how these people fared in their adult lives.
The results indicate that parenting styles can have a big impact on people’s lives well into their adult years. Parents who were overly controlling, who invaded their children’s privacy and who didn’t allow their children to develop a degree of independence may have inflicted psychological damage on their offspring. The study found that the effects of overly controlling parents were similar to the effects of a bereavement of a friend or family member on a child’s mind. These children were generally less happy even into their 60s and were at greater risk for developing depression and other mental illnesses. The study classified this type of control as Psychological Control.
Alternatively, children of parents who were more caring and who guided their children on how to make their own decisions enjoyed better mental well-being in later life.
“Parents … give us a stable base from which to explore the world, while warmth and responsiveness has been shown to promote social and emotional development. By contrast, psychological control can limit a child’s independence and leave them less able to regulate their own behaviour.” lead author Dr Mai Stafford
Behavioural control, such as not allowing children to do whatever they want, did not affect the children’s mental health in later life. So don’t worry about telling your kids that they can’t do something but definitely don’t try to control every aspect of your children’s lives!