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“Why do they have to grow up so fast?” Parental separation anxiety and emerging adults' pathology of separation-individuation

Authors

  • Evie Kins,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
    • Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
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  • Bart Soenens,

    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Wim Beyers

    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • This article was reviewed and accepted under the editorship of Beverly E. Thorn.

Abstract

This study examined associations between parental separation anxiety, controlling parenting, and difficulties in the separation-individuation process, as manifested in separation-individuation pathology. In a sample of emerging adults involved in the process of home leaving (N=232) and their parents, it was found that parental separation anxiety is positively related to separation-individuation pathology in emerging adults. Dependency-oriented controlling parenting served as an intervening variable in the relationship between parents' feelings of separation anxiety and pathology of the separation-individuation process in emerging adults. These associations were not moderated by emerging adults' residential status (i.e., living with parents or (semi-)independently), suggesting that parental characteristics and behaviors remain important antecedents of separation-individuation pathology even when one no longer lives in the parental household. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 67:1–18, 2011.

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