Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Communication Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth Suter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Claire Morr Serewicz

Third Advisor

Erin Willer

Fourth Advisor

Judy Kiyama


Helicopter parents, Higher education, Parent identity, Relational closeness, Social constructionism, Study of narratives


This mixed methods study examined the construction of parental identity and interactions at a midsize four-year western private university. Survey responses were collected from 163 undergraduate students and 448 parents, who completed qualitative measures examining student and parent descriptions of parental interactions in higher education and quantitative measures examining frequency of parental intervention, levels of relational closeness, and use of mediated communication. Qualitative findings indicated that the student and parent participants were constructing parental identity at a private university through six emergent themes that describe parents as Financial Supporters, Academic Consultants, Emotional Cheerleaders, Housing Advisors, Advocates for Healthcare, and Advocates for Independence. Quantitative findings among the private university participants indicated parental intervention is positively associated with relational closeness among both fathers and mothers; in addition parental intervention among mothers is positively associated with email and video teleconference; and among fathers, parental intervention is positively associated with phone, text messaging, email, social networking service, and video teleconference. Ideally these findings can assist students, parents, and university personnel to effectively and successfully navigate the modern college experience.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Daniel William Johnson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

195 p.



Included in

Communication Commons