Helicopter Parents - moms and dads who are so afraid of something happening to their children that they don't let them enjoy anything on their own - are often considered to do more harm than good in terms of raising a child into a well-rounded adult. And there are plenty of examples to back up that assumption.
Those parents, however, have nothing on the detrimental impact Snow Plow Parents have on their children. Instead of not allowing their sons and daughters to leave the house or do anything on their own, these special parents do everything, yes, everything for their children. Job applications? Check! College admissions? Check! Possible dates? Check, check, check.
Take a look at some of the worst examples of this parenting practice we could find and let us know if these compare to some of the parents out in the world. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I was in court waiting to see the judge and was listening in on another case involving this high school senior who hit a kid with his car on campus.
The guy's mom went up with him and when the judge started asking questions, the mom answered them. The judge politely told her he'd like to hear from the son and she agreed. The boy started to explain what happened when she immediately cut him off, told him he was telling it wrong. She started talking again, and the judge visibly annoyed, now asked her if she was there.
'No, but I know what happened,' she assured him. When the judge told her multiple witnesses claimed that what her son said didn't actually happen, she called them liars who were just out to attack her boy.
She continued to argue with everything the judge said until he finally had enough of this woman interrupting him and had her removed."
"I had an old roommate who was incredibly absent-minded, forgetting at least one thing literally every time she left the house (often things like her purse, car keys, phone), forgetting to turn off the oven/stove/gas, forgetting to flush the freaking toilet, leaving leftovers out of the fridge, the list goes on. Very basic stuff. She also had no idea about how many, many things worked, like utility bills, rent, parking, how to take out garbage, how to wash dishes (she was just rinsing her plates under cold water and putting them away crusty until my other roommates and I explained soap to her).
She asked me once how to boil water. I could MAYBE understand not knowing these things if she had just graduated from high school, but she was 24 years old and had been in college for five years. We were astonished by her every day. And not just life skills, she was constantly misspelling very basic words and asking about basic concepts all the time, which wouldn't maybe be such a big problem if she wasn't intending to become an elementary school teacher.
It came together bit by bit. One day, we were all talking about essay writing. She said she has no idea how essays are structured because her dad was 'a whiz at that kind of stuff' and wrote all her papers for her. We pried a bit and discovered that he checked or wrote ALL of her homework assignments, and drilled her over and over before tests, and had been doing this since she was in middle school. We knew she talked to her parents on Skype almost every night but we just thought she was homesick or something.
Then another day, a friend and I were in the living room talking about diseases and she joined in and revealed to us that she has a genetically inherited disability (I forgot the name, but it's a type of disease women can have that's close to downs syndrome) and that one of the symptoms was learning disability, but 'thank God I don't have that!' Well...of course we couldn't be sure, but we all kind of came to the conclusion that she was actually disabled and her parents have been doing everything for her her whole life and pretending that she's normally functioning. Which I wouldn't care about usually, but she's now an elementary school teacher. How she's able to look after children is beyond me."
"I work at the bookstore on a college campus.
One year on move in day, the worst day of the year, hundreds upon hundreds of students were coming to get their books all at once. Most freshmen were accompanied by their parents. This one lady marched up to the desk pushing other customers aside and dragging her mortified looking son along by the hand. She then demanded that I tell her how she could get her son's books.
I told her the best way for your son to get his books was to use his class schedule and go find them himself, as he will need to do this every semester moving forward. The aisles are alphabetical and the courses arranged numerically once people find the correct aisle.
She told me that she didn't believe her son was capable of doing that. Now at the time I didn't expect to be staying as the manager of the department or employed by the university so with nothing to lose.
I said 'Then your son isn't capable of succeeding in college.' And she lost it. Absolutely started flipping out screaming that I called her son stupid. After her rage I said.
'I'm sorry ma'am, but you're the one who suggested to me that your son is incapable of using the alphabet and numbers to preform a simple matching task. I was just going off of the information you provided.' She stared at me. 'In other words, I'm pretty sure you're the one who just called you son stupid when you told me that he is incapable of accomplishing a kindergarten level skill.'
She threw another fit and then smashed the schedule into the kid's hand. He looked like he wanted to die. She pointed off toward the shelves and told him that she would be here if he needed her. Then she turned and glared at me, with a 'We'll see' look. I wished her a nice day and went back to my office and continued to observe the chaos of move in day.
The kid ended up finding his books in five minutes and tried to sneak out without her noticing. Sadly her hover skill was greater than his sneak. She spotted him, headed out the door, and ran after him screaming his name."
"When I was a troop commander in the Army, I had a kid who came up hot for coke on a urine test and then a week later was arrested by the local police department narcotics task force for being an enforcer in a local civilian-military crime ring.
They charged him and remanded him back to Army custody where I immediately started the paperwork to chapter him out and let the civilian justice system take its course. The guy was 23 years old.
His mom called me several times to tell me that 'Chris has never been in any real trouble before and he's such a sweet kid. Anytime anything happened in high school, I helped him work it out. I need to come up and talk to you and get this sorted out.'
I was dumbfounded. This guy was 23 years old, in the Army, and his mom thinks she can come up and 'work it out' with me. I was polite for the first call but by the second or third phone call, I had had enough.
I told her (again) not to bother coming to the installation, that her son wasn't a sweet kid or else he wouldn't have beaten some guy for not paying money he owed to a local dealer, and that the whole reason he was in this mess in the first place was because his mom had never let him be accountable for his actions. I told her that he was under my authority now and I had no time or patience for someone who didn't take their obligation to the Army, the country, or their buddies seriously enough to keep themselves out of trouble long enough to make our upcoming deployment to Iraq.
When she complained that getting a dishonorable discharge would ruin his life, I informed her that fortunately, I didn't have the time to waste giving him a dishonorable discharge so he would be okay on that score (other than honorable is what he wound up with) but that the city of Harker Heights and the State of Texas might have more time than I did, so that was where she ought to focus her effort.
She said I was being unfair and called my boss, which was fine by me.
It blew my mind that a woman with a fully grown adult son in the Army would think it was appropriate or healthy to call and talk to her son's commander about his multiple counts of misconduct and general failure to be an adult.
But that, of course, is why he failed at being an adult in the first place."
"A friend of my dad used to talk in a baby voice to her children until they were about 13 and 14 at least. She cut their food up for them until they were about 12, used to give them everything they wanted immediately, as if she thought they were still babies. So if one of them said they were hungry, everyone in the vicinity was expected to go into full panic mode until they got something to eat.
She hired a professional carpenter to do one of her son's woodwork coursework.
She split up with her husband when the kids were about 11 and 12, and the kids stayed living with their dad through their own choice. She then started constantly (and unfairly) criticizing her ex about what a bad job he was doing, including the fact that he didn't pack their school bags for them. Jesus christ, most people call that 'expecting them to take some responsibility.'
The surprising thing is that these kids turned out surprisingly well-rounded, and not at all spoilt. A lot of that is thanks to their father, I'm sure. I think their mother's pandering mostly irritates them."
"I was a charge nurse at a rehab center when this 19-year-old kid was admitted for detox and treatment. His mom wanted to be there for the entire admission process, which isn't out of the ordinary for families. However, after the kid was admitted and shown to his room, his mom wouldn't leave.
Detox patients would get assessments every two to four hours and were asked a series of questions to determine if they would need medication for withdrawal. His mother answered all of his questions for him and at the end of the assessment was like, 'He'll take 10mg of this mood stabilizer for his anxiety.' All while this kid was in bed watching TV.
In this particular rehab, visitors, cell phones, and laptops were allowed, so we couldn't tell her to leave until visiting hours were over. That time arrived and you guessed it, she was still there.
As the charge nurse, I had the honor of asking her to leave. Mom looked at me legitimately confused and replied, 'I have to leave? I was going to stay here with my son. There are two beds in his room so I didn't think it was a problem.'
I then explained to this mom that the second bed needed to be kept open for another potential admission, then I was yelled at for not providing her son with a private room and that 'this guy' in the admissions department said she could stay throughout her son's detox and treatment.
I told her that patients weren't allowed to have overnight guests. She was appalled because she thought that because she was the mother that she fit into some type of loophole or something. After she left, she visited every day and stayed from the beginning of visiting hours to the end. When she wasn't there, her son was on the phone with her.
Needless to say, this kid relapsed immediately after he finished treatment."
"I managed, scheduled, and hired for a 'fast food place' in a nice neighborhood. One day, a kid came in for an interview in a button up and tie. I was impressed and wanted to know if he had any extra curricular activities so I could make sure neither of us were wasting our time. Pleased with his answer, I hired him on the spot.
He came in on his first day and it looked like his mom dropped him off. Ok fair enough first job whatever. She sat down without ordering and watched him walk to the back to do get settled in on the computer computer. I went back to the front to work and she was still there. I checked the lobby about 30 minutes later. Still there. I got off and a couple hours later, I got a call from my co-worker asking about the new kid. I figured it was about his timecard or something. No. His mom was still there. The manager wanted to know if the kid is special or something (he was not, wouldn't have mattered anyway besides accommodating him).
I got to work the next day and his mom was on the phone. She wanted his schedule. I said I couldn't give it out, he needed to ask for it or come to the store. She argued with me for a couple of minutes but I absolutely refused to give out his schedule.
He came in about an hour later to get his hours, I had to pencil him in so I had the entire schedule book for the week out. She tried to take it from me. I snatched it and tossed it on the (employee) counter and told her in the most 'I'm being polite but get lost' voice that she was not allowed to look at our schedules because she was not an employee and that it was protected communication. She huffed as I gave the kid his schedule.
About two months later, she called the store to tell me to cut his hours because he was 'too busy' now. I called him into the office while I wrote schedules for the next week and asked HIM if he wanted his hours cut. He had no idea why I would ask to cut his hours. I explained his mom called, he looked at me with a 1,000-yard stare and said, 'I just turned 18. Schedule me 40 hours a week PLEASE. I get out of school at 11:00, I can be here at 11:30.'
I scheduled him 38 hours and his mom called and tries to yell at me. I explained that a) I was not her child, or a child at all, and would not be yelled at. b) her adult child asked for full-time work. I did not, under any circumstance, owe her any explanation for how I did MY job. She called two rungs up the ladder and spoke to the franchise supervisor. He told her if she was so concerned about his work life to fill out an application.
Three and a half years later, I am not there and that kid is a manager. From what I have heard, his mom is still just as ridiculous."
"I worked at a science museum that had hands-on areas for kids.
The aim of the game was for the child to solve a problem by themselves. Like 'can you get x to do y?' where they make something, test it, and figure out how to make it better.
One day, a woman comes in, practically dragging her 5-year-old son. She sits him down beside me and starts poking me on the shoulder and I'm talking to another family.
'Tell my son what to do,' she says, standing over him. I tell the family to hold on a sec, as I explain the challenge to the newcomer. The whole point is to work autonomously, so it was alright, and I was used to working with a few rude/pushy parents so I wasn't surprised. I tell the kid the prompt, tell him he had a wide range of materials...
But no. The woman wants me to tell him every step of the process. She just keeps yelling, 'Tell him the answer! Tell him the answer!' Then she starts grabbing his hands to make him fold paper, or reaching for my own.
I start getting mad, 'Ma'am, the goal here is to learn the scientific method. Make a hypothesis, test it, make conclusions and try again.'
'But you already KNOW the answer,' she says, 'Tell my son! Or I'm calling your manager!'
I don't even have a manager. In the meantime, the poor kid is looking so embarrassed. Ever time he tries to start something for himself, his mom reaches for his hands and tells him to wait for me to tell him what to do. The woman was so afraid of him failing when the whole point was to learn from one's mistakes. I'm so worried about how he'll deal with mistakes growing up, with her around."
"I remember this one private that showed up to his first duty station with his mother in tow. She came along to help get him settled and make sure everything went smoothly and ensure his sergeants were nice to him. I remember first formation she was behind him in the parking lot telling him to stand up straight. At one point, she wanted to speak with someone about his diet and sleeping schedule.
The kid gets assigned to my squad and my First Sergeant tells me to deal with it. Long story short, I made the kid pay for his mom's actions. Like absolutely wrecked him, making his mom watch the whole time. She's crying and threatening me 'just you wait until so-and-so finds out what you did, I'm friends with random-name-drop.' I kept telling her I'll stop scuffing up her son as soon as she left and never came back. She apparently sold her house and purchased one near the base expecting her son to come live with her. His application for off-post housing denied. We never banned the mom from coming on post but there was a standing order that if anyone in the platoon saw the kid's mom, I would make an example out of him. Finally she got it into her head that she was messing up her kid's life and moved back home.
I can't even imagine what that kid's life would have been like if he'd gone to college first. Where would he be if he hadn't had a caring and compassionate NCO such as myself?"
"When my niece was 14 or so, her mother (my sister-in-law) was so far up in her business that I'm not sure the kid ever actually spoke for herself.
One day my niece was in the bathroom and she took a little too long to finish so her mother stood outside the door and said, 'What's taking you so long, are you wrapping the toilet paper around your hand like I showed you, do you need me to come in there and show you again, why is this door locked? Open this door!'
It was Thanksgiving dinner and the whole family just stared at my sister-in-law in shock; we could all hear my niece crying in the bathroom.
That woman is a freaking psychopath. I remember the incident happened after we ate, and everyone had split into two groups, the options were to listen to my mother and sister in law gossip about the family, or watch football. My niece would try to sneak by to the bathroom without being seen, but if her mother saw her she would obnoxiously interrupt the conversation and start telling us all about what a bad kid her daughter was, and how awesome her boys and her dogs were. This went through most of my niece's teen years.
That was just the topping on the cake. My niece was very overweight and used to get headaches a lot - her mother would give her two to three ibuprofen 2x a day for nearly four years, which she eventually built a tolerance to. They also forced her to eat only salad for a year, and exercise for four hours a day. No one believed that my niece ever really had the headaches, and no one would have believed she was abused because she was in and out of teen mental hospitals from the start of puberty. I was there when her father took off her bedroom door.
One day, out of nowhere, she doubled over in pain and passed out; an MRI later confirmed that she had dozens of cysts on her ovaries - some they suspected were there since she started puberty. The cysts were 'benign' in that they weren't cancerous, but they were causing massive fluctuations in her hormone levels which effected well, everything. This kid was diagnosed as being bipolar, having ADHD, and some personality disorder that I don't remember. She was on some serious psychiatric meds from the time she began puberty, the effects of which will probably be with her for the rest of her life. All of those 'troubles' went away when the cysts were removed and her hormone levels regulated - she went through a second puberty as a result, and is no longer on any of the medications.
Her parents should be in jail, but who's going to believe it? I have no proof, and my niece didn't tell me about half the stuff until she'd moved away from her parents."
"One day, I was at a toddler soccer 'practice' with my 3-year-old. We were kicking the ball. With a coffee in one hand and my phone in the other, I was half paying attention every time my daughter ran off to play with another kid, but I was still there and close enough to step in when needed.
Then this guy and his daughter walked up to the field, and he had a massive equipment bag full of stuff -- multiple MLS balls, full gear (shin guards and knee socks and whatever else, I don't even know), carrying a thing of water bottles like you'd see on the sideline of a professional match.
I started paying attention to this guy because all my daughter and I would do was boot the ball back and forth and we were just now starting to weave through cones and stuff. This guy was next level and I assumed his daughter would be a prodigy -- nope, easily the worst player there. It wasn't even close.
As the practice went on, he got down on his knees and started physically manipulating her knee, ankle and foot, putting her through the motions of kicking a ball and attempting to explain the biomechanics and kinesiology involved, as well as the physics of striking a soccer ball and the arc on which it will travel. His daughter was obviously miserable, had no aptitude for soccer or any other sport, and hated even being there.
A few other dads and I were just staring, mouths agape as this dummy obsessed about every facet of his daughter's soccer experience, from proper hydration to moisture-wicking athletic wear to top-level equipment and proper technique and game theory and sportsmanship do's and don'ts. He was micromanaging her entire experience, criticizing her for missing a cone, berating her for not being 'fast enough' and frankly disrespecting the rest of us by monopolizing the drills, talking over the coach and disrupting the entire event. Meanwhile, our girls were over there booting a ball into a net and giggling.
We were all pretty upset with that guy for what he was doing to his daughter. He was sucking the life out of the game and ruining her. His behavior was borderline abuse and I almost said something to him. Instead, I shrugged, took my kid to McDonald's, and still made it home in time for football."