Controlling parents follow kids to college.

Position:YOUR LIFE

College students whose parents lay on the guilt or try to manipulate them may translate feelings of stress into similar mean behavior with their own friends, maintains a study at the University of Vermont, Burlington. Those students' physical response to stress influences the way they will carry out that hostility--either immediately and impulsively or in a cold, calculated way, concludes Jamie Abaied, assistant professor of psychological science.

Building on her previous research on the effects of various parenting styles on college-age children, Abaied looked at the link between "parental psychological control" and the young adults' relationships with peers. Her study Involved mostly female college students and was a collaboration with Abaied's graduate research assistant, Caitlin Wagner, lead author of the study.

Even after they leave home as legal adults, college students often still depend on parents for financial and emotional support. Some parents will nit-pick and find fault or threaten to withdraw affection, money, or both as punishment or to force a desired outcome. With today's technology, parents can exercise that control wherever their kids go--with texts, e-mail, and social media keeping them in constant contact.

The result can stunt offspring's budding independence, Abaied suggests. "We need to be really mindful of how influential the parents are."

Psychologists long have recognized that heavy-handed parents...

To continue reading