"I work at a University and see all manner of helicopter parenting.
The worst I ever saw was a family from China who had decided that their daughter was going to do an MBA and get a law degree. They had her schedule down: dropped her off, knew when she'd eat, have her study at the Library from X to Y hours, then be picked-up to eat and study. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
She started to falter mid-semester. I was teaching the class and she was going to probably average a C- or a D+ in the course. It was a required course and she needed it to be fully accepted into her chosen major. Well, all heck broke loose. Her father came to my office and demanded to know why she was doing so poorly. I explained as best I could, but he was not pleased and left.
After that, either her mother or her father would come to class. This is strictly against policy, so they'd have to wait outside. I would tell them and all I would get was a dismissive, 'No, no I stay.' Well, she came to my office when she should have been in another class and basically told me that her parents had been like this all her life. Her poor command of English was because they had home schooled her and she had a tough time with English.
By the end of the semester, both parents (whom I gather owned a business) were waiting for me. She hadn't been to class and they explained that she had gone missing. They wanted to know if I knew where she was. I emailed her, but never heard back.
I've always wondered where she went.
I see overly protective parents, but that was the worst I had ever seen in my entire life."
"My 6th class was planning a school visit to Boston over a long weekend and one kid's parents were none too happy about letting their little treasure so far out of their sight for the first time. Despite the parents' best and repeated attempts at opting their kid out from the visit, the principal flat out refused as this activity is actually part of the grade 6 curriculum.
The parents end up dry running the whole visit with their kid, one week before the actual outing. They systematically go through all the motions as planned with the rest of the class: they drive the very same roads, visit the same museums and attractions, and stay at the same hotel.
Before leaving, the parents make sure to brief their kid thoroughly and leave him with a mobile phone, pre-programmed with all the possible emergency numbers, should anything come up.
When the class actually leaves on the Boston trip, the parents follow behind the school bus, unbeknownst to their son. They make sure to discretely shadow the class during their visit, by attending all activities and attractions, just like they had done the week before.
During the museum visit, the kid takes a wrong turn inside some gallery and loses his mind wondering where the rest of the class ended up. He promptly dials for help on his phone and his parents appear out of nowhere to comfort him, and so does the principal!
Needless to say there was some explaining to do and the poor kid ended up being the butt of his classmates' jokes for the rest of the school year."
"I've been in and worked at a university for the past ten years or so. To me, the worst examples aren't the incredibly hyper-controlling parents around lower, middle, or high school age. Those parents can be absolutely ridiculous, but when the kid is still living under their roof, I can understand being involved.
For me, the absurd ones are the ones that continue helicoptering once the kid gets to college. A few things I've seen in my years here:
Parents calling professors to complain about their kids' grades or how their kid was graded. I've seen this all the way up to graduate students.
Parents demanding our registrar change their kid's schedule at their request because 'they're paying tuition.'
A parent demanding our registrar change their kid's major at their request because, again, 'they're paying tuition.' This mother demanded that her son be a Biomedical Engineering major instead of a Computer Science major.
Parents sitting in on their kids' classes on the first day, with their kids, and going up to talk to the professor afterward. I mean, I can understand sitting in the back of one of your kid's first really big classes just to get a feeling for what they're going to be doing, but sitting with them and actually participating? Oh my god.
Fortunately, the law and our school are adamant about this: administrators and professionals are to reply, 'By law, we cannot discuss this with anyone except the student' to everything. Half the time that just ticks the parent off even more because, after all, 'I'M PAYING TUITION! HE'LL TAKE WHAT I WANT HIM TO TAKE.'"
"Two years ago I was directing a technology summer camp. I'd been doing this for 7 years and never before saw a helicopter parent as bad as this one.
The kids arrive on Monday for a week of classes from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. I'm doing check-in, talking to parents, receiving medication, etc. A woman comes and checks in two boys. She begins asking all kinds of questions about our schedule, where they'll be, what they'll be doing, at what times. This is fine, I give her a run down of the day. The boys are sent over to the other kids who are doing icebreakers, and some outside games while we wait for everyone to get checked in. She asks if she can 'hang back and watch to make sure they're going to be ok.' This is normal, a lot of parents will watch their kids participate in the activities for a few minutes.
We finish check in, and the games wind down. She's still standing on the side of the field we were using. That's fine too. We gather all the of campers and head to our computer lab to go over rules and start classes. She follows us. That's fine, maybe she's just trying to see where they'll be when she comes to pick them up. Everyone files into our classrooms and she tries to come in. I stop her and explain that we don't allow parents in the computer labs because they get to come see it on Friday during our Family Showcase. She nods and leaves. Or so I thought.
An hour or so later, I'm making my rounds to each class. I'm making sure instructors are getting started and that the campers are adjusting well to the material. I see this mother standing outside the door watching through the window. At this point, she has gone beyond any helicopter parent I've dealt with. I step outside to speak to her about any concerns she may have, or anything that might cause her to linger so long. 'No nothing is wrong, I was just making sure they were ok.' So I return to my duties.
Come lunch time, we all line up and take off. As we walk down the hall, there sitting in the hallway is this mother. She gets up and follows us to lunch. 'Fine,' I think, 'she'll have lunch with her sons, see they are fine and leave...' So I don't say anything more to her. After lunch, we return to class and around 2:30, we go outside to get the kids some sun and exercise. In the hallway, sitting on the floor, is this mother. She just will not leave. Once again I assure her that everything is fine, her kids are loving it, having a good time, and there are no problems. I have a camp cell phone, and assure her that if there were any issues, we'd call her. She follows me to the field and once again observes from a distance. We go back inside. Come dismissal time, she's still in the hallway. That's fine, her kids have made it through day 1, and surly they'll tell her how much they loved it and she'll have piece of mind enough to go home the rest of the week.
Day 2 of camp. Repeat of Day 1. Mom will not leave. She hovers around us wherever we go. At this point, I get my regional manager, and our client services involved because this is not normal. She becomes extremely upset claiming we cannot 'make her leave.' Which is not technically correct. We host our camps on university campuses around the US, and I don't think (I could be wrong though) that university grounds are public property.
After several phone calls and arguments back and forth with my manager and client services, the woman breaks down and cries. Apparently one of her sons was just recently diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. She been carrying around this book about how to deal with being a parent of someone with autism and was just very scared about her son's experience at camp. I assure that there are few better places for her son. We get kids on the autism spectrum ALL THE TIME. Many of them love technology and computers, so we attract them by the droves. All of our staff goes through training on how to deal with and handle autistic campers for that reason. I also tell her that I wish she had been upfront about this, we ask for all kinds of medical history and pertinent information since we are caretakers of these children for the week, and we would have done everything possible to assuage her concerns. We reach a compromise that she will only return for lunch each day the rest of the week. She partially complies as I still spot her on campus nearby but trying to stay out of site the rest of the week. She was crazy.
This woman is the text book definition of 'helicopter' parent. It's my opinion that the children suffer from the 'peace of mind' helicopter parenting gives.
Because of that I feel bad for her sons."
"I once got a phone call from a parent screaming at me asking why her daughter wasn't allowed to swim in a competition coming up that weekend. She wouldn't let me get a word in to explain that I was not, in fact her daughter's swim coach. I am not a swim coach at all. Her coach had the same name as me and was even the same age, but still lived with his parents, so mine was the only phone number in the phone book with my name.
She went on for about 5 minutes explaining that she watches all the kids swimming and her daughter was definitely the strongest in her group. I was so mad, I simply agreed and told her that her daughter would 'definitely be swimming this weekend.' She congratulated me on making the right decision and hung up.
I really wish I could see what happened."
"Just a few months ago, while I was working my custodian job at my school's student union, a worried mom approached. She told me she lost her daughter and that she was lost! She tried calling her and she didn't answer. I took it very seriously and asked her where she was supposed to be. She said at one of the dorms. Eventuality the daughter calls and says she is separated and the mom tells me she is scared and alone.
We leave the union building in search for her daughter and we arrive at the dorm. I then begin to notice that its full of group leaders and new students. It clicks that her daughter is 18-years-old and the mom was overreacting.
I just wasted 20 minutes helping a way to worried mom find her college age daughter. I really thought a little kid was lost. I blame working retail prior to this job."
"When I was a ticket writer for the school, my boss had to field a call where a parent was threatening to take their kid out of school because their kid's car was booted.
This kid racked up $120 worth of tickets, that would be 6, the last of which had a bright red and white warning that he would be booted if he was caught parking in a space he did not pay for.
I was mystified at what type of lesson that was supposed to teach."
"I had a Mom of an athlete make up a fake Facebook account to befriend her daughter's teammate/arch-rival (in the Mom's mind) as a young handsome boy admirer.
She, posing as the boy, began sending the girl gifts and chatting with her nightly. For weeks the victim-girl was stoked on her 'internet boyfriend' which, as her coach, was alarming enough to say the least.
Well, right before a major competition, the 'boy' sent her a gift basket with candies and whatnot. Her parents caught on to her 'relationship' and intercepted the package, thinking that she was being groomed for some kind of future relationship with 'the boy.'
When they opened the package to examine its contents, they noticed a strange odor. I couldn't tell you what it was, but long story short, the mom tried to poison the girl. The police were able to trace the account and the package back to the mom... yup, helicopter parent and complete insanity."
"On first day of classes, I noticed a couple sitting next to a student. The room is slowly filling up and we are about to start the orientation. I chat them up and sure enough they're the kid's parents.
I not-so-subtlely mention that the parent/etc. orientation happening in another room. No bites.
I go back over and say, 'We will be starting in a few minutes and this orientation is for students only.'
'We'd like to stay.'
'There are only enough chairs for the students and we still have people coming in.'
'They can stand. They should have been on time.'
I finally had to ask my boss to get them to leave and they weren't happy about it. This kid is going to do GREAT in a post-secondary environment..."
"My daughter, about to start her freshman year of college, and I went down and saw her dorm room last summer. The mother of her new roommate came along.
That mother proceeded to inform my daughter of which dresser and which closet she would get, what color the room would be decorated in, and that my daughter would bring a fridge and a shelf. Caught off guard, we left.
Later, my daughter got texts from the roommate's phone inviting her over to see a concert in a park. My daughter said sure, but she got there and found out the mother had taken her daughter's cell phone and set all that up. Then she demanded that me and my husband stay, even though we kept telling her we had plans. We caved and stayed (everything was so odd). The mother's moods kept changing. She would be happy and flighty one minute and then angry or not speaking the next.
During our time there, she told us of addiction problems and rehab stints in her family and with her kids. We had already been told she only had one child by her husband, who was her second husband, and her other kids were from her first husband. But then for a while there, she started talking about having met her husband over 30 years ago. My daughter tried to ask the girl if she had an idea how she wanted to arrange the room. But in the mother's overbearingness, she just wouldn't really speak and only thing she said was, 'I am not in to that, I do not care how anything is arranged, do whatever you want.'
On move-in day, my daughter came at 9am. She took the closet she was ordered to take. She brought a brand new fridge, which she did not want, but brought it so that she was not making waves since she was ordered to bring it. She brought a shelf from her bedroom for the girl to use. The girl did not show up at all during move in time. She showed up at 8pm, after the orientation social activities had started. It was only a coincidence that my daughter came back up to the room for something and saw the girl and her mom there.
They had brought so much stuff for that girl, it would not even fit in the room. And the mom then proceeded to physically grab my daughter and shove her in to the corner, screaming and cussing at her, and threatening her. Then the roommate got involved, too. Together, they physically shoved my daughter into the corner. Then the mom tried to shove over the brand new fridge and damaged it, stating it was in her way and her daughter wanted that spot.
She was screaming that NOW her daughter wants the closet, bed, dresser, and desk my daughter had. She shoved the book shelf over, causing my daughter's books to fall off, damaging the brand new textbooks. My daughter had not re-arranged at all when she moved in, figuring she and her roommate would discuss it when she got there. The campus police came over and removed the mother and had both girls step out of the room.
The roommate ended up being as nasty as the mom. She bee-lined to the social event after assaulting my daughter and put up this fake cry and told everyone that my daughter would not allow her to move in.
That mother was a nightmare and her daughter was her spawn."
"When I was an RA in college, a girl's parents used to call the head of the university housing department every time the girl got upset about something with her roommate, with her floormates, or with me (her RA). They'd ask him to intervene in the situation (punish the roommate, fire me, etc...) instead of, you know, letting the girl solve her own problems.
I don't even know how they got his number."
"About four years ago, I started working for an Engineering College.
One of my jobs was to help with the University's open house. At the open house, I handed out the Engineering program's pamphlets, tried to get some of the college-bound kids with no idea what they want to do interested in programs, and generally gave out information about what it takes to get an engineering degree.
While there were hundreds (and I literally mean hundreds ) of heli-parents, only one really sticks out in my mind as the helicopter parent. A young man (15-years-old as it turned out) was physically accompanied by his dad by the arm to the table and started questioning us on how likely it was for the kid to graduate with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in one year. Then go on to get his Ph.D. in one year as well.
The background was that the father was homeschooling his kids and he had determined that the 15-year-old was going to graduate next year. There were a few things odd about this family:
The entire family was there, mother, older brother, a sister that could not have been older than 10, and a younger brother. They all smiled the entire time and stood behind the father silently. The boy, who's arm he was holding, was smiling and quiet most of the time as well, except for when my boss asked him a question directly.
The father never spoke to me directly, he would only speak to my boss, even though I was the initial contact in the conversation, the father just interrupted my boss's discussion with another program's Student Services Director, and literally started talking over my head to him.
When my boss tried to explain to him how it was impossible to finish a Civil Engineering degree in one year, it would be around 35 credit hours per semester, the father said his son would be fine, because the father had an associate's degree in Civil Engineering, so he knew what the course load would be like.
The father would later call the office and ask to speak to my boss for the next three weeks, trying to get him to either say that he would sign off on the 15-year-old trying to do the program in one year, or recommend another program that would. My boss was seriously freaked out by the end of the third week and stated that the man had a habit of referencing his son as an 'it' and talking about how 'we will handle the course load just fine.'
My guess was it was either an abusive, extremely religious or actual cult like home environment. Anyways, by far the worst helicopter parent I've ever seen."
"Our high school salutatorian's parents literally made her go crazy.
She was your typical smart Asian. Straight A's, top of the class, got into Berkeley, etc... Her parents were proud but extremely unhappy that she would be 600 miles away. So they decide to set up a phone in her room and call every 2-3 hours to ask her where she is what she's doing. In addition, her mom goes through her school emails, looks at the events and tells her what she can and can't go to - surprise, she can't go to anything.
About 2 years into college, she just snapped. The stress from school, her boyfriend leaving her, and her parents was too much. She started dating this dope dealer and doing angel dust all day, every day.
Most of us just recently graduated from college. But no one really knows what happened to her."
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