Teachers have to put up with a lot on daily basis. They have rambunctious students acting up in class, school administration breathing down their necks, and then they have to actually teach. As stressful as those all can be, sometimes they can't even compare to what teachers have to deal with when they talk to parents. And what's worse than any normal parent? Helicopter parents.
A group of teachers recently shared some of their best/worst experiences with helicopter parents. While no two experience is alike, they all have something in common - they involve overbearing parents who think their child is the only student in the classroom. Take a look at some of the most unforgettable stories. All posts have been edited.
"I was volunteering for this thing two years ago where we help freshmen haul their stuff (mostly tampons and televisions) into the dorms. One mom came at the end of the day and flipped her lid because her daughter's roommates already divided up the space (she was the last to get there) and, oh yes, because her daughter didn't get the dorm with the swimming pool.
Her daughter had to change dorms because it was too hard to walk to the two buildings in a 50-foot radius to use the swimming pool.
Her daughter was really chill, though. Let's hope she stays that way."
"I teach first grade at a small charter school and it's not unusual for teachers and parents to communicate via texting at my school. I don't give my number out to all my parents, just the ones that have certain issues that we need to communicate about on a regular basis.
Well, I have a kid that is still figuring out the whole potty situation. His dad texted me last week and said that Billy was having trouble wiping himself, if you could help him wipe when he goes, his dad would make it worth my while.
What? No, I will not wipe your kid's butt. I do not get paid enough for this. You can make it 'worth my while' by teaching your kid to wipe his own butt. He's not special needs or anywhere close. He's actually one of the brightest kids in my class. He's just babied by his parents so he acts like a baby."
"I was not allowed to walk to school by myself, even though it was literally one block away from my house, because my mom said I would get assaulted. I was in junior high. I was never allowed to be unattended and was not allowed to go to friends' houses because my parents did not trust other parents.
This extended all the way through high school until I started 'acting out' and they sent me to a lock-down mental health treatment facility.
I was transferred multiple times. I ended up going to three different long terms and multiple short-term or 'referral' programs. Basically, I'd graduate a program and my parents would send me to a new one. They did this until I was 18 and legally able to walk out the front door. Each place was vastly different, and my experiences were very varied. Two left me psychologically damaged from student/staff abuse, but one of the long terms was amazing and helped me work through the issues I had gained as a result of the previous two. I probably owe my life to the third place. They actually cared about the students and were willing to work with me personally to achieve MY goals, not just the goals of the program.
You have to understand that these places are industries. No matter how much they say they care about your wellbeing, they are ultimately in it to keep you there as long as your insurance money is keeping them afloat. They will never turn away a child for not having enough problems to warrant a stay. That said, there are always staff members there who understand what's really going on and are willing to help you out and try to make your time spent there beneficial despite not having severe problems. Much of what I worked on was learning to have patience. So. Much. Patience.
I'd say my relationship with my parents now is business-like, but healthy. It helps that I attend college in a different part of the country. When I come home for visits, things can get a little tense because their values and lifestyle choices are vastly more conservative than mine, but we are both working on the problems we have that interfere with having a healthy relationship with one another. Both parties have made a lot of improvements over the years.
My childhood was painfully lonely, to say the least."
"I work at a university mailroom and, at the start of the semester, freshmen students need to come to us to open up a mailbox.
One father came in and tried to sign his daughter up for her mailbox and we had to turn him away and tell him that his daughter had to be the one to open the mailbox herself.
So he came back with his daughter later that day and we gave her the signup sheet. Then we watched as he filled everything out for her. He had her permit in his wallet. She didn't know her own email address or her school ID number, but Daddy did. When we were going over the rules and regulations with her, she was staring off into space and her dad pocketed the key to her mailbox as they left.
About four weeks later, we saw that girl again. She was closing her mailbox because she was dropping out of college because it was 'a lot harder than she thought it would be.' She didn't know her mailbox number, still didn't know her school ID number, and didn't know her home address. She had to call her dad and ask him for all of that information."
"I'm a preschool teacher. One day, one of my girls, Abby, was playing with Becky's security blanket during free time. Becky wanted her blanket back so she asked Abby to get off. Abby refused so Becky pulled the blanket from under her and Abby cried. I told Abby that she needed to listen to what Becky was saying and respect her friend's belongings.
I also told Becky that next time, instead of pulling the blanket from under Abby, she should just come tell a teacher. Maybe five minutes later, while I was passing out snacks, Abby flipped into a crazy rage and ran towards Becky, tackled her and took a HUGE bite out of her shoe. Plastic literally came off. I pulled Abby off and tried as calmly as I could to ask her why she attacked Becky. Basically, it was revenge for getting her in trouble and taking the blanket away from her.
I wrote an incident report telling both parents what happened and, of course, I put Abby in the thinking chair for such an outrageous attack and called her mom, leaving a message and what not. But the next day, Abby's mom came in and found the child who got bitten, Becky, and told her that if she 'hadn't yanked the blanket from out under Abby, maybe she wouldn't have attacked you.' Of course, I asked the parent to leave immediately and to not speak to the children, that Abby was the one who attacked out of spite, and that her child's reaction was not an appropriate one that can be excused in my classroom. The mom got so mad at me for defending Becky, a 3-year-old, that she reported me to my supervisor for being unprofessional. I still have my job, but the mom withdrew her child."
"We decided to teach 'The Hunger Games' in English last year. I had a few parents raise concerns because they had heard a few rumors, but it was nothing a quick conference and a little reassuring couldn't fix. Until Mrs. Bickerstaff happened. Now, Mrs. Bickerstaff had an inflated sense of self-importance to begin with -- a housewife who, with complete seriousness, signs her emails: 'Mrs. Nolanda Shar'Lain Bickerstaff, Esq.' She just puts it there to sound important. She has an 8th grade education. She's that type of self-important.
She not only pitched the biggest of fits about not allowing her son to read it (we offered an alternative to kids whose parents put their foot down and said no) but embarked on a six-month campaign to get the school shut down unless we pulled the book from the curriculum for everyone.
She disenrolled her son, threatened to sue us for the cost of sending him to an expensive private school, and called EVERY PARENT IN THE SCHOOL to try to get them to do the same. When she didn't have any success with that, she went to the local news and told them what was going on. What resulted was a flattering news story that reported our high test scores and innovative approach to learning (we're a charter school).
I should mention that she didn't read the book."
"I went to a school where helicopter moms were normal. SO many stories, but here's a more extreme one:
When I was 7, I met my friend Sara. Despite meeting my parents multiple times, Sara's mother showed up the day before Sara was supposed to come over to 'interview and inspect' my parents and their home to make sure it was safe for Sara to come over. And gave my parents instructions on how to make our house Safe for Sarah. She'd also just randomly show up for some play dates and stay the entire time, watching us play in my house.
Her mother came to school one day and pulled me out of class to tell me to stop giving Sara money for the milk vending machine because 'the hormones in milk will kill her, and do you want to do that to Sara?' They also managed her meals by making them up and laying them out in the fridge: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Cupboards were not to be touched, ever.
From about age 9-10, Sara was expected to clean the entire kitchen after meals: wash dishes, wipe down counters, take out garbage, mop floors, etc. She had to do all of her laundry, including ironing shirts/pants - I remember she had to use a stool to do these things because she was too small to reach. Her room had to be spotless at all times; not a single toy or clothing item left out. Anything out of order would result in grounding. By the time she was an older teenager, she basically cleaned the entire house - they did nothing. Except stand behind her and watch her do these things.
Pretty much every time I went over as a kid, we'd play for about five minutes, and then her mother would come down and explain to me that Sara needed to finish her chores, and she thought she could "get away" with not doing them because I was there but that wasn't the case. And then I'd sit there and watch a movie by myself until she finished - wasn't allowed to help, and usually ended up lying and saying I already ate so I wouldn't have to watch her clean my dishes.
If she got a 'bad' mark (anything under a B), they used to make her go to the teacher, apologize, and ask what she can do to get better. Once she got a D in math and they set up a meeting with the principal, the teacher, and the guidance counsellor.
It was all about humiliating her in front of people to teach her lessons. Like, if she forgot to say 'Please,' they'd make her stand there and apologize really loudly to everyone in the surrounding area. If I was talking to her on the phone and asked her to hang out, and she said she couldn't, her mother would jump in and say, 'Tell your friend exactly why you can't, Sara,' because she listened to her phone calls. They also loved to lecture/admonish her in public.
Every time she said 'Like,' or 'Anyways,' etc, she'd lose 50 cents out of her allowance (which was minimal, anyway). Swearing ended up with more grounding.
Oh, and they all celebrated their birthday on the same day (I think her mother's actual birthday). She never got cake, usually just a cupcake. She had to donate most of the presents given to her by other people because she 'had no need for them' according to her parents, so I always had to speak to her parents personally about something I could buy her that she could keep - usually books - or (when I got older), buy her a present and help her hide it.
When we were in high school, Sara wasn't allowed to leave school property for any reason. We used to go out for lunch and had to leave her behind (no caf in the school). Despite only living about two blocks from the school in a really nice area, she'd have to wait until her mother got off work to pick her up - sometimes not until 6 pm.
She couldn't go anywhere by herself, even at 16-17. If we went to the mall, her mother would follow us around, saying, 'Just pretend I'm your girlfriend!' Same with movies. On the rare nights Sara was allowed to sleep over, her mother would personally visit around 10 pm to check on her.
Her mother also had access to all her passwords, from MSN to Hotmail to some sort of dual-phone, where her mother would also receive Sara's incoming cell phone calls. When you phoned Sara, her mother would listen on the other line.
They also found any and all reasons to ground her, so she wasn't allowed to leave the house. Like, she was supposed to clean the kitchen every day from age 10 (from washing dishes after their meals to mopping the floor). Once, she accidentally left a fork in the washing machine and was grounded for two weeks.
Sara ended up drinking heavily during high school, went to university six hours away and has yet to come back. That's all I can think of right now, but it's been YEARS, so I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting. The scary thing about parents like Sara's is that even though it's practically abuse, it would be impossible to prove. They never beat her, or starved her, or neglected her. They gave her an allowance for chores, showed up for all her school events, gave her presents on her birthday. She had fashionable clothes and could wear minimal makeup. It some ways they were normal, even nice, but in others, they were so freaking crazy. I wish Sara all the best."
"I made a really great friend in high school. He and I were as thick as thieves. Early on in the friendship, my parents took us to a movie. I don't remember the movie, but the start of it got delayed by technical difficulties by about 20 minutes. My parents called from their cell to let my friend's mother know, but only got the voicemail. Thinking that would suffice, we all proceeded to have a good time.
Fast forward to the end of the movie, my mom turned her cell phone on and discovered her voicemail box was suddenly full. All of the messages were from my friend's mother calling pleading for us to return her son, she would pay any amount we demanded, and that if we called back soon, she wouldn't go to the police.
She literally had thought we kidnapped him. Suffice to say, when we got him home only 20 minutes later than planned, the conversation was rather awkward. She was just kind of a nutter to begin with. I could never figure out what went through her mind sometimes. My friend wasn't allowed to get his drivers license until he moved out either."
"I worked at a summer chess camp in a beach city. Not a serious one, so it was two hours or so of chess related stuff and seven hours of playing elsewhere. We told the kids' parents to bring a swimsuit and change of clothes and towel for water balloon day.
This one kid's dad showed up to supervise water balloon day. It was overcast, so a bit chillier than usual. Hover-dad started yelling that his boy was shivering.
He got in my face and screamed about how 'my boy shouldn't be shivering, it's chess camp!'
I said, 'Uh, he looks fine, but he can sit out the rest of the time.'
He then rushed into the grass field his kid is happily running around, wrapped him in a towel, and hoisted him over his shoulder. He ran to his car and left. The kid didn't return for the rest of the session."
"In high school, I was friends with this girl we'll call Judy. Judy's mom was really strict/overprotective, and she could never go anywhere with us, and when she did, she'd inevitably end up grounded. She could never hang out and she wasn't allowed to have friends over very often. Once when I was at her house she got grounded for yelling at the dog. This led to a rebellion where Judy just stopped doing anything her mom told her. She started drinking heavily whenever she could, and she also smoked weed and did whatever pills people had. We always had to babysit her if she came out with us.
This went on for a few months and she met this guy, we'll call him Tom. He was about 25 and the kind of dude that's every parent's worst fear. Judy came from a 'good' upper-middle-class family, her dad was a dentist, that sort of thing. Tom was a 25-year-old burnout and he was on house arrest when Judy met him. It was love at first sight for her, even though we all tried to talk her out of it. She started hanging out at Tom's house anytime she could. She'd skip school to go over there, sneak out of the house at night, that sort of thing. Well, it's no surprise what happened next - Judy got pregnant. She was eight months along at our high school graduation and married Tom and had the baby shortly thereafter.
Moral of the story: Don't be a ridiculously strict parent, because your child will rebel and bad things will happen. The same exact thing happened to Judy's sisters when they got older. Sad stuff."
"When I was student teaching, we had one of those stoplight noise alarms. If the class was quiet, it was green. If it got to X decibels, it flashed yellow. If it got to Y decibels, the light flashed red and made a quiet whooping alarm noise. It was loud enough that a student across the room would hear it, but not so loud that you could, say, hear it in the halls. It was about as loud as you might listen to some music.
One day, the principal walked in with a parent, who was also a nurse or something. She had a device to measure the decibel levels in the classroom, a notebook, and a stack of papers. Apparently, she was concerned that her daughter, who sat in the group closest to the 'siren,' might suffer permanent hearing loss from the device. Also, it might be possible that she might become scared, what with the loud noise and all.
It was later determined that there was no possibility for hearing loss. This was explained to us in a 10-page letter, with pictures of the ear canal and references from several peer-reviewed journals."
"While I was teaching a class on engineering principles with Duplos, I had one mother sit in on the class and put all of the models together for her 5-year-old. The point of the class was to also work on fine motor skills, as listed in the class description.
I have no issue with parents sitting in on my classes, but not letting the child do the activities that you paid for, and then not let the child play with the model either? It was more than I wanted to deal with because I could see the child getting frustrated. The policy for the company, though, is to not anger the parents and let them do what they wish.
On the other hand, I wholeheartedly believe that it is incorrect to allow the parents to act like that during the class. The next day I just had fewer tables set up and told the mom that there was not room for her to be at the table and apologized.
Untruthful? Yes. Did it make for a better next four days of class? Heck yes. And I would do it again if I still taught."
"This is a sad story but it shows the absolute ridiculousness of over-parenting. When I was 12, a good friend of mine lived across the street from a family with two young boys. The parents were always extremely over-protective, the mother stood outside while her kids played (they were 10 and 9) and as long as I could remember, they weren't even allowed to cross the street alone. The kids were homeschooled
and spent literally every moment with their mother. Finally, the oldest was allowed to walk across the street to play with a friend. The first day, he walked out into the street and was struck by an oncoming car and died immediately. The parents had always held their hands while they crossed the street and never taught them the rules to cross, like looking both ways. It's terrible some of these parents don't teach their kids but try to do everything for them."
"I work with parents of kids in special education, so I understand that some of the kids need some extra help but some parents take it over the line.
One mom took her son home early everyday because school stressed him out (he was so obviously faking being upset). When she was looking for a new school, she asked the assistant principal if the school would pay for his Minecraft subscription because he liked it.
Another parent 'has not decided yet if they're going with the label of Autism' because they don't want to hurt their son's chances if he runs for public office later. The kid is also a runner and if the school involves the school police to ensure safety, his ex-military dad has threatened to call the US Marshalls on them."
"Once when I was a leader at a summer camp, we had a group of kids that were oddly quiet. We played a lot of group games and they were all outside, so usually kids are yelling and cheering and having a good time, but these kids were pretty quiet and reserved. At the start of the kids' favorite game, I was introducing the rules and said 'Make sure you yell REAAAAALLLY loud for your team! Cheer them on!'
One of the little girls come over to me and tugs on my shirt, so I leaned down and she said, 'My mommy doesn't want me to yell outside because that's noisy and then the neighbors will look and think we're bad kids.'
Excuse me? These kids literally weren't allowed to be loud. OUTSIDE. Because the parents care so much about their appearance and how people perceive their kids, and then they push that onto their kids and make them worry about it. It was so messed up I couldn't believe it."
"I used to practice and study martial arts. I eventually became an assistant and helped lead the class. No, not at all a ninja. Just a guy who knew the drills and could be a punching bag for the master most times.
Leading the kids class was always super fun and super exhausting. There were some spazzy kids, but overall it was great. I would leave the kids' class extra exhausted. Those little shavers can go go go. So this one kid was perfectly normal, not a behavioral problem at all. Very polite and always a good student. Usually, he came with his friend and his friend's family, but I was also there at times when his mom brought him.
Typically the parents would sit along the back wall or in this waiting room we had. I don't really even recall any others causing a problem, but this one lady was bonkers. She wouldn't stop whisper-shouting things to him. It wasn't all criticisms, some of it was praise. But she just like ... couldn't let him experience things on his own. He was never in the moment when she was around.
It got to the point that she was getting up and coming out onto the floor (disregarding our traditions about how to enter and leave the space and how to interact with senior members of the academy). She'd sit next to him to give him prodding and encouragement, and when she started half-heartedly demonstrating the moves for him, we tried to get her to sign up, too. I mean, she was on the mat with him doing the moves. It was a very family friendly place that had parent and kid classes and everything. She declined to fully participate.
But she kept showing up and it eventually had a negative effect on other parents and students in their classes. When the instructor had saved enough money to renovate the school, one of the improvements he added was an enclosed and completely separate waiting room for parents. They could chat it up, get their attention off the kid, and there was a big screen TV on the wall for when they wanted to check on the kiddo.
Some of us lower rank assistants who had dealt with her informally dubbed it, 'Maggie's room.' Surely not the most egregious case of helicopter parenting, but hey, she caused construction to happen."