The Relationship Between Parenting and Anxiety in Emerging Adulthood

  • Anna Smout
  • Rebecca S. Lazarus
  • Jennifer L. HudsonEmail author
Original Article


Challenging parenting behavior (CPB) encompasses parental encouragement of children to push their own limits and take safe risks. Increased CPB has been associated with reduced anxiety scores in young children. This study sought to develop and evaluate a measure of CPB relevant to emerging adults (CPBQ-EA), and examine the relationship between anxiety and parenting behaviors, including; CPB, overprotection, rejection, and warmth. A sample of 442 18–25 year-olds completed self-report measures of anxiety and parenting. Exploratory factor analysis revealed three CPB domains; social, novelty, and competition. Greater social CPB was associated with lower social anxiety scores in emerging adults, but only when exhibited by fathers. Greater rejection exhibited by both parents was associated with higher emerging adult general anxiety and stress scores. These findings highlight the connection between paternal CPB and offspring social anxiety symptoms, the salience of parental rejection in emerging adult anxiety, and the importance of including fathers in parenting studies.


Challenging parenting behavior Anxiety disorders Social anxiety Overprotection Rejection Warmth Emerging adulthood 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Anna Smout, Rebecca S. Lazarus, and Jennifer L. Hudson declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Macquarie University Human Ethics Committee. Informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects participating in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article. Sample 2 participants were invited to complete an online questionnaire of approximately 30 min duration. After providing informed consent, participants provided demographic information and completed the parenting scales (CPBQ-EA, s-EMBU) separately for each parent, and the anxiety scales (DASS-21, SIAS) via the online survey platform, Qualtrics. Branched logic was applied to the questionnaire, whereby if participants indicated that their family composition included two mothers, they received two mother versions of each parenting scale. If they indicated a single parent household, they only completed one of each parenting measure. Participants from the psychology participant pool were reimbursed with course credit for their time, and external participants were reimbursed by going in the draw to win 1 of 3 $50 gift vouchers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Emotional HealthDepartment of PsychologyMacquarie UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.The Matilda Centre, Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance UseThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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