About the lab

The FAmily and DevelOpment research center (FADO) is a lab in the University of Lausanne's Institute of Psychology.
Our goals are to promote research in family and developmental psychology and encourage dialogue between researchers and practitioners. Our work focuses on the psychosocial development of children and adolescents and on marital, parental, coparenting and family dynamics at various life stages. We also research the transition to parenthood, transitions in childhood and adolescence, and other family life stages. We seek to better understand children's and adolescents' relationships and how to prevent or deal with relationship troubles in families.
FADO also provides teaching for undergraduate and doctoral students, and training for professionals through continuing education.

Featured projects (1)

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the topic of parental overprotection in the developmental psychological literature as well as in popular media, sometimes referring to the phenomenon as « helicopter parenting » or « overparenting ». Parental overprotection involves parents’ provision of protection that is excessive, taking into consideration the developmental level of the child. A first goal of this research program is to examine the implications of parental overprotection for adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment (in terms of both personal and interpersonal functioning). Thereby, we also aim to examine why parental overprotection would be negative, by testing whether it would undermine the development of their resilience in terms of coping skills. A second goal of the project is to better understand why some parents tend to become overprotective. Specifically, we will test whether parental overprotection is linked to specific dynamics in the family system (in terms of coparenting), and whether overprotection arises from parental perceptions of societal pressures to keep their child safe and secure.

Featured research (9)

In western society and its mass media, adolescence is typically portrayed as a disruptive and rebellious stage of life ("Storm and Stress"), and when it comes to this developmental period, parents often worry about this transition as they anticipate it to be a difficult and challenging period (Buchanan et al., 1990). Previous research suggests that the parental adherence to these negative Storm and Stress beliefs about adolescence are persistent and predict subsequent "Storm and Stress" behaviours among their adolescent children. However, to date, the way these negative beliefs may impact parental experience and stress remains unclear and understudied. While no prior study has specifically examined associations between parental overprotection and parents’ Storm and Stress beliefs about adolescence, there is evidence that parents who view teenagers in negative stereotypical terms report more controlling and less autonomy-supportive parenting behaviors (Grolnick, et al., 1996). There are thus reasons to believe that parental Storm and Stress beliefs may be associated with more overprotective parenting. Additionally, recent work suggested that parental burnout may be rooted in a tendency to over-invest the parental role, making parental overprotection a likely risk factor of parental burnout (Hubert and Aujoulat, 2018). The aim of this study is thus to examine associations between parents' Storm and Stress beliefs about adolescence and parental burnout as well as explored the potential mediating role of parental overprotection in this association. Using an Actor-Partner Interdependence Partial Mediation Model framework (APIMeM), we examined these associations in 146 mother-father dyads (N = 292 parents) of adolescents (Mage = 14.72, SD = 0.61; 60.3% girls). The mean age for mothers and fathers was 45.80 years (SD = 4.51) and 49.30 years (SD = 6.10), respectively. Results indicated that mothers and fathers who adhered more strongly to Storm and Stress beliefs about adolescence were more likely to exhibit higher levels of parental burnout. These associations were partially mediated by parental overprotection for both mothers and fathers. The strength of these pathways were found to be similar for both mothers and fathers and no partner effect was observed. Overall, the results of this study extend previous literature on negative and stereotyped beliefs about adolescence. These results suggest that countering negative beliefs about adolescence may be beneficial for the quality of parenting and the experience of being a parent. In fact, helping parents to adopt views of adolescence as a responsible and constructive flourishing time (Qu, et al., 2020; Zimmermann, et al., 2017) could protect them from the temptation of overprotecting their adolescents as well as from the stress associated with over-involvement.
Parental overprotection has been defined as parents’ level of protection and involvement that is excessive considering the child’s developmental level (Holmbeck et al., 2002). One of the most comprehensive self-report measures of this multifaceted construct is the Multidimensional Overprotective Parenting Scale (MOPS; Kins & Soenens, 2013). The MOPS is a 35-item questionnaire assessing two dimensions: anxious overprotection and ego-enhancing overprotection. Both dimensions would relate negatively to parental autonomy support and responsiveness (Van Petegem et al., 2020) and to adolescents’ and young adults’ maladjustment (Kins & Soenens, 2013; Van Petegem et al., 2021). Given its substantial length, the present research presents the development and psychometric properties of a short version of the MOPS (S-MOPS) which could be used in cross-cultural research and in research with a multi-informant approach (i.e., including both youth and parent reports). Four independent samples were used (Sample 1, N = 315 Swiss adolescents; Sample 2, N = 377 Belgian adolescents and young adults; Sample 3, N = 312 Georgian young adults; Sample 4, N = 467 Swiss parents). In addition to the 35-item version of the MOPS, participants completed parenting questionnaires assessing autonomy support (Samples 1, 2, 4), psychological control (Samples 1, 3, 4), responsiveness (Samples 1, 2, 4) and parental overvaluation (Samples 4), as well as adjustment questionnaires assessing social anxiety (Sample 1), general anxiety (Samples 1, 2, 4), depressive symptoms (Samples 1, 2, 4), self-esteem (Sample 1), and life satisfaction (Sample 2). For item selection, the loadings of the 35 MOPS items were analyzed through a 2-factor exploratory factor analysis in Sample 1 and resulted in a 16-item version, comprising 10 items for anxious overprotection and 6 for ego-enhancing overprotection. A loading invariance test was realized in order to ensure that the item selection is not specific for one relationship (mother-child or father-child) and indicated equivalence (ΔCFI = .019, ΔRMSEA = .006). Internal consistencies were satisfying for the original MOPS and for the S-MOPS across samples (.71 > α > .96). Regarding CFA analyses and usual criteria (i.e., RMSEA ≤ .08, CFI ≥ .90, TLI ≥ .90; Vandenberg & Lance, 2000), the initial estimation yielded an acceptable fit for the mother-version in Samples 1 and 2 and for the father- and mother-version of Sample 4. Acceptable fit was found for the remaining versions after allowing a limited number of error covariances between items sharing similar wording. Finally, the MOPS and the S-MOPS presented very similar associations with the parenting and adjustment variables across all samples. To conclude, the S-MOPS seems to be a relevant brief instrument for measuring parental overprotection in different cultural contexts and relying upon reports from adolescents, young adults and parents.
Previous research offered evidence for how overprotective parenting is related to psychosocial maladjustment among adolescents and documented the parent-related and child-related antecedents of overprotective parenting. Using a family systems perspective, the present study aimed at extending this knowledge by looking into contextual determinants of overprotective parenting. More specifically, the goal of this study was to examine associations between adolescents’ perceptions of the coparental relationship (i.e., the way parental figures relate to each other in their role as parents) and overprotective parenting, which in turn was expected to relate to more adolescent anxiety symptoms. A sample of 174 adolescents (Mage = 16.99 years, 73% girls) completed questionnaires assessing their perceptions of the coparental relationship (in terms of cooperation, conflict, and triangulation), overprotective parenting, and symptoms of anxiety. Analyses indicated that triangulation, in particular, uniquely predicted higher levels of overprotective parenting, which in turn was associated with more anxiety symptoms among adolescents. These results provide evidence for the importance of considering the larger family systems context for understanding the dynamics involved in overprotective parenting. The discussion focuses on theoretical and clinical implications of these findings.
La vie quotidienne des familles a été bouleversée durant la crise sanitaire liée à la pandémie du COVID-19. Cet article propose une revue de la littérature afin d’observer la manière dont les parents se sont adaptés en fonction de leurs réalités et de leurs ressources tant individuelles que conjugales, familiales ou sociales. Dans un contexte idéologique de « sur-responsabilisation parentale », la pandémie est venue exacerber la pression sociale et les injonctions envers les parents. De nombreuses études indiquent que les parents ont ressenti des niveaux élevés de stress, d’anxiété et d’épuisement, en particulier les figures maternelles qui ont souvent porté la double charge de poursuivre leur activité professionnelle et de garantir l'organisation et le bon fonctionnement de la famille dans ce contexte d’adversité. Dans un tel contexte, les parents se sont trouvés à risque de mettre en place des pratiques de surprotection parentale qui peuvent fragiliser l’autonomie et le bien-être des enfants, notamment des adolescents. Des conséquences positives ont été aussi identifiées chez certains parents, comme une meilleure conciliation entre vie familiale et professionnelle et une coparentalité plus équilibrée. Ainsi, certains parents ont été confrontés à des difficultés durant la pandémie qu’ils ont vécu comme une source de pression supplémentaire, alors que d’autres ont traversé cette crise de manière positive. Leur capacité d’adaptation pourrait s’avérer une ressource précieuse pour les potentielles crises à venir.
Educational transitions involve a number of changes for adolescents and can be challenging for adolescents and parents alike. The present study was designed to gain a better understanding as to how adolescents’ perceptions of parenting evolves across a major educational transition and how the parenting perceived across this transition may facilitate adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment and identity formation. Swiss adolescents (N=483, Mage = 14.96 years old; 64.6% female) in their last year of mandatory secondary school completed self-report measures at two semi-annual time points both prior to and following their educational transition. Adolescents reported on their perceptions of their parents’ autonomy support and psychological control as well as their self-esteem, risk-taking behaviors, and identity processes. Group-based trajectory analyses identified three parenting trajectory classes (i.e., Highly Supportive Parenting, Decreasing Supportive Parenting, Stable Controlling Parenting), three psychosocial adjustment trajectory classes (i.e., Low Self-Esteem/Low Risk-Taking, High Self-Esteem/Low Risk- Taking, Moderate Self Esteem/Increasing Risk-Taking) and four identity trajectory classes (i.e., Lost Searchers, Guardians, Pathmakers, Successful Searchers). These solutions support the contention that adolescents are likely to experience academic transitions differently, whether in terms of their parent-adolescent relationship, their psychosocial adjustment, or their identity. Furthermore, parenting trajectory classes were associated with specific identity and psychosocial adjustment classes. Notably, Highly Supportive Parenting was associated with the High Self-Esteem/Low Risk-Taking class and the Pathmaker identity class, whereas Stable Controlling Parenting was most strongly associated with the Low Self-Esteem/Low Risk- Taking class and the Lost Searcher identity class. These findings highlight the importance of autonomy supportive parenting for adolescent development during educational transitions.

Lab head

Grégoire Zimmermann
  • Institut de psychologie (IP)
About Grégoire Zimmermann
  • Grégoire works at the FAmily and DevelOpment research center (www.unil.ch/fado) of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His research interests include adolescent family relationships; parenting; identity; and risk-taking. Today, he tries to integrate more systemic, inter-disciplinary and macro-contextual psychology to better address the youth's challenges an era of uncertainty. At the same time, he questions the neo-liberal ever-increasing demands of academia and advocates for "slow science"

Members (14)

Jean-Philippe Antonietti
  • University of Lausanne
Eva Heim
  • University of Lausanne
Rémy Amouroux
  • University of Lausanne
Joëlle Darwiche
  • University of Lausanne
Fabrice Brodard
  • University of Lausanne
Gregory Mantzouranis
  • Lausanne University Hospital
Gillian Albert Sznitman
  • University of Lausanne
Milana Aronov
  • University of Lausanne
Joan-Carles Suris
Joan-Carles Suris
  • Not confirmed yet

Alumni (6)

Sophie Baudat
  • HES-SO Valais-Wallis
Annina Riggenbach
  • University of Lausanne
Gloria Repond
  • University of Lausanne