Parents want their kids to do well in school and be successful in life. That's totally understandable. But, things can definitely get too extreme. Helicopter parents can make a teacher's life miserable. By pestering them endlessly and making sure their kids don't face any obstacles, they're actually hurting more than they're helping!
Here are the craziest helicopter parents teachers ever dealt with. Content has been edited for clarity.
A Serious Threat
“I used to teach at a private primary school in China, basically for rich kids. Many of the children have no brothers or sisters and suffer from ‘little emperor’ syndrome.
One little girl was very bossy. At home, she had servants and was used to ordering others around – even adults. To give you some perspective, I’ve seen kindergarten kids hit and kick their minders while the minders grin frightenedly. If that kid complains to mommy, they are out of a job. So at school, she tried to give orders to the other little girls and boys.
As you can imagine, this did not go down very well with the other kids, especially as they themselves were all quite well off. So her entire class refused to play or talk with her. This caused the little girl to cry and complain to mommy.
Her mommy marched into our office and, in front of our principal, threatened to have the other children killed unless they started playing with her daughter. The principal was shocked, he was the one who informed me.
At the end of the term, one month later, they told her there was no room for her daughter next term.
The sad thing was, apart from the behavior, the girl was intelligent, pretty, learned quickly, and had a whole lot going for her if she was just nicer to people. I remember thinking she would be a whole lot better off if her mom didn’t step in and she learned how to deal with people as equals, rather than trying to be the boss all the time. That is how her parents acted all the time, even around the teaching staff. They were paying about 150K Chinese Yaun a term. That’s not so much now but ten years ago it was a LOT of money.”
CPS Had To Be Called On This Helicopter Mom
“I taught multiple subjects at the high school level in special education for about a decade. Most people who aren’t in the field hear ‘special ed’ and think all of the students have major disabilities. Really the majority of our students were Emotionally Disturbed, PTSD, Compliance Disorder, Aspergers, etc. Most were in and out of Juvenile Hall, depressed, suicidal, etc. What you learn quite quickly is that the parents of these kids were almost always FAR more messed up than their kids.
So fast forward to about five years into my career, and a new student is introduced into my homeroom. So, he comes into class on his first day nearly hanging off his mother’s arm like a baby possum. He was VERY small for his age. He was 16 but looked and sounded like he was 10. Apparently, he was expelled for making threatening phone calls to his previous teachers and lighting a kid’s backpack on fire. He was quite the pyro. So he has a myriad of disorders, both real and ones his parents made up to explain the results of their bad parenting job. These included delayed puberty which had caused his stunted growth and voice tonality.
The mom seemed nice. She explained that her son was a very special boy and had a big heart. She talked at length about how proud she was of her ‘little buddy’ and I began to notice that she was CONSISTENTLY speaking about him and to him as if he were 6 years old. She wiped some chocolate from his lip at one point and he did the ‘Mooommmm!’ thing. I was constantly shooting glances over her shoulder to the vice principal, a friend of mine, who was standing behind her. She returned the glares.
Cut to about 5 months later. I’m working with the class on a math project in which they had to come up with a real-world word problem that they encountered recently, establish what formulas could solve it, and then blah blah blah. So anyway, I walked over to Robin’s desk and he was coloring a weird picture with crayons. I couldn’t quite make it out.
‘Hey, why don’t you tell me about the scenario you’re trying to solve here!’, I said.
He was excited! I thought to myself, I’m so good with kids!
‘This is when I slept in mommy’s bed because I was scared and she would nurse me,’ he told me.
‘Well,’ I explained, ‘I asked that the scenario that we are going to use math to solve be a recent one. Ok? How about we shoot for, say, the last couple weeks. I don’t want you guys using really old ones from when you were a little kid because you might not remember.’
‘This WAS a couple weeks ago, why can’t I use it? That’s not fair.’
He’s got his lower lip tucked in, bobbing his little Adderall-addled head back and forth whilst coloring still.
‘A couple weeks ago, I watched Final Destination 3 and then that night I got scared so I went to my mommy’s bed and told her I wanted her to nurse me and sleep in her bed. I don’t do it all the time but sometimes I get really really scared.’
So naturally, I think he’s messing with me, which is odd because so far he has been PAINFULLY honest and forthcoming with every bizarre detail. I went to his on-site therapist and asked him to speak to him. He did. The student confirmed to the therapist that this was a once-in-a-while thing that his mom had done to make him feel safe. It had been happening since he was a little kid. We went to the VP, the VP went to Principal. They filed a CPS report.
The mother admitted it to be true. She said it helps him calm down and, I quote, ‘Ain’t no one gonna tell me how to raise my baby.’
Well, the state of California disagrees.”
“My uncle was a teacher for 25 years at a fairly prestigious school. He told me some pretty unbelievable horror stories, I’ll just talk about the one that sticks out in my mind.
He had taught several grades and at this point, I believe he was teaching a 6th-grade class. There was a boy in the class who was very, for lack of a better word, stupid. This isn’t uncommon in schools but this kid was simply thicker than brick and couldn’t seem to grasp anything that was being taught to him. The catch 22 was that he had a father who was the chief of police in town and mother who worked closely with the mayor.
Anyway, my uncle had been teaching a chapter in history and assigning homework for the day, when the boy stood up and started yelling about how stupid history was and that my uncle was dumb for attempting to teach it to them. Needless to say, the boy was sent to the office for verbally abusing a teacher. This is where the story gets somewhat interesting. While the boy was in the office, he had begun crying and started to fabricate a story about how my uncle had called him an idiot outright in the classroom and that all he did was retort, ‘No I’m not, prick,’ or something to that effect. He then began requesting to speak to his parents. Of course, the headmaster obliged and let him call his parents. At the same time, the headmistress summoned my uncle to the office to discuss what was going on.
Five minutes later, as my uncle had just finished explaining what had happened, both of the boy’s parents burst into the office. The husband attempted to arrest him. His wife basically was spitting in my uncle’s face as she was yelling at him. All the while, their boy was sitting there smiling and apparently laughing as my uncle was taken from the room by the chief of police. It was all pretty absurd. As you can imagine, with a full room of witnesses in the children, the actual story came to light fairly quickly. But, instead of apologizing and trying to save face, the husband began telling a tale of how my uncle had resisted arrest and reacted forcefully and ‘struck’ him as he was attempting to gain control over him in the office.
I found out later that both the parents approached the headmistress after the fact and offered her an ultimatum: agree with what they were saying or they would make her life a living nightmare. All this instead of simply admitting they were wrong. The husband lost his job and the wife was severely demoted to desk clerk after everyone figured she tried to use her position as leverage in the situation. As if this whole thing wasn’t humorous enough, my uncle still swears to this day ‘nailing the headmistress saved my life, definitely my career.’ What a lovely man he is.”
Hurting Not Helping
“I once worked as an instructor for blind/visually impaired kids. A lot of parents of disabled kids coddle them too much but one took the cake.
She carried around her child so much that the little girl’s legs were useless. They were completely atrophied at 14 years old. There was nothing wrong with anything but that kid’s eyes.
We worked hard to get her to do things for herself as much as we could but whenever she’d go back home (every weekend, during breaks and during the summer) they’d fall right back into old patterns.
She was making progress though and we brought up the issue with the mother every chance we got so she’d change her own behavior. When I left it seemed like she was starting to clue in.”
When Expectation Meets Reality
“I work at a small school and we have a student whose mom is the worst helicopter mom I’ve ever seen. At the start of each school year, the mom emails all of the student’s teachers with a list of ‘expectations,’ which include handing back ALL assignments, regardless of length, within the week unless the assignments were received on Friday, in which case they need to be handed back on Monday. Other expectations include always being ready for the mom to drop in for a meeting, as the mom believes that teachers who require appointments are really just trying to buy time to prepare a story for her. She has sent abusive emails to colleagues that have been so bad, the principal has told several teachers at the school not to allow contact with the mom without him present.
When I had the student, the mom came to me and demanded I cancel a student club I had running in my room so she could review in detail each correction I had made on her student’s paper. When I told her I’d be happy to review it but wouldn’t cancel the club, she accused me of violating her student’s FERPA rights and reported me to my principal, who can’t stand this woman.
My favorite story, from a co-worker not in my department, was when the student’s mom came in without an appointment to demand from a much older, battle-seasoned teacher that he change her student’s final exam grade to a higher grade because the student’s score made them JUST ineligible for 4.0 Honor Roll. The student had something like an 89.93 in the class. That teacher had a very, very clear policy about not rounding up grades. He put it in his syllabus and told every class about it at the beginning of the year for as long as I’ve worked with him. When the mom went in to argue, I remember being in the hall and hearing the teacher yell, ‘Are you out of your mind, Mrs. X!? Get out of my classroom.’
She walked out rather shaken, muttering something about the ACLU. That teacher is now the staff hero.”
“I work with a high school band. The long days at competitions means that I have to worry about food. Usually at a competition, students are responsible for buying their own food, but I need a list of their allergies and medications anyway in case of emergency. One hover parent brought me a list that was three pages long. Her precious daughter couldn’t drink coffee or soda or have any caffeine, was allergic to nuts, shellfish, cilantro, and gluten, and was a vegan. Her diet options were extremely limited, so naturally I was worried about how she would feed herself on competition food, which is almost exactly like county fair food, only with less variety. Everything is fried or breaded and slathered in butter. I pulled the girl aside and explained to her that she should bring her own food, maybe some carrot sticks or chickpeas or something, and offered my own cooler to keep her food refrigerated. She said it wouldn’t be necessary.
Fast forward to dinner time at the competition. I spotted this girl with the biggest deep-fried hot dog shoved in her face and a huge bag of kettle corn. I rushed over with the girl’s epi-pen, worried about her health. She explained that, ‘Oh, my mom wants me to be a model so she watches what I eat.’ This poor girl had no serious allergies, other than to a very controlling parent.”
That’s One Way To Improve A Grade
“I’m a college professor. I had a student spectacularly flunk an on-campus class one semester. He really couldn’t manage the material. He scored D or F on most of the quizzes and exams. His ‘term paper’ was one and a half paragraphs of inane buzzwords barely strung together. He was a nice enough kid who told me he really wasn’t interested in college. He enjoyed his sales job with an electronics store. But, Mommy decided he was going to be a police officer and college was required before admission to the police academy in our state. His mom was a constant presence all semester, calling and emailing me. The student had put a letter on file with the college allowing me to discuss him with her, claiming undiagnosed learning disabilities.
The next semester, the student takes the same class from me, but in an online format. Suddenly, his work jumped to A levels. He passed every quiz and exam with 92% or higher. During this time, the mom emailed me multiple times each week, challenging the content on the son’s quizzes, arguing about certain answers, and complaining about deadlines. The son never communicated with me. After one day with four emails from mom regarding an assignment due that day (which had not yet been turned in), I suggested she have her son call me to straighten out any questions. She answered that he was hunting and would be completely out of contact for the remainder of the week. Interestingly, he still managed to submit his online assignment even though he had no cell service. His term paper was a graduate level thesis 8 pages longer than the required length. The plagiarism program indicated it was original work. I had to give it an A, even though it clearly wasn’t his work. The college informed me that there was no way to prove that the mom had taken the class for her son. He earned an A for the class, and it killed me to submit that grade.
About three quarters through the semester, I had to file a stalking complaint against mom after receiving over ten emails and calls each day for over a week. Remember, the son was the registered student, not her. Luckily, the college backed me up for that, at least, and I had relative peace for the last few weeks of the semester.”
Whose Life Is It Anyway?
“I worked as a college ambassador during undergrad. Part of this meant I ended up at events with prospective students and their families to tell them about all of the great things we did. This happened at a fancy one where there was dinner served and each ambassador was assigned to a different table with 2-3 families. I always tried to talk to the kids and tried to connect with them. But this kid, we’ll call him Brad, was the hardest case I’ve ever had.
Every time I would talk to him, he would make eye contact with me then look at his mom. She would answer every question I could ask. ‘What’s your favorite class? What are you looking forward to the most?’ All were answered by the mom. Then, of course, because Brad wasn’t asking me any questions, she decided to start asking me questions about my college experience. This was when she told me of his life plans. He, too, was going to be a resident adviser in college. He was going to graduate in three years so he could go to med school at Harvard. He was going to get married to his current, high school sweetheart before med school started. You could see the kid just trying to shrink away.”
The Most Embarrassing Classmate
“When I was in high school, there was this kid’s mom would sit in on all his classes to make sure he would do his homework (he didn’t have any mental problems or anything). She wouldn’t let him talk to anyone who didn’t go to their church, she argued with the teacher every day in biology (she reported the teacher to the superintendent for teaching evolution). As you probably guessed, nobody hid their dislike of her.
The best one was when I missed a test one day and had to stay after school to make it up. She burst into the room looking furious and started yelling at the teacher because he failed her son. The teacher just started going, ‘Uh huh.’ She just got madder and madder, but the teacher just kept ignoring her. At one point, he took out his cell phone and called some people. The woman got really mad and stormed off.
That poor kid was really messed up. He was always the subject of bullying because, on top of his mom being super controlling, one time in middle school he was beaten up by a girl. Plus he had the stereotypical gay voice and was really flamboyant. In fact, he may actually have been gay and in denial about it.
I hope he’s doing alright now.”
“I was a resident assistant for my university and we had some major helicopter parents during the move-in day the last few years. It was either last year or the year before, this guy’s mom helped him move into his dorm room. When it came time for the parents to leave and for the first floor meeting, his mom hid in his bathroom. Then she tried to stay the night that night.
The only reason she was caught was that the guy’s roommate came to me and the other RA on the floor and told us he wasn’t comfortable with her being there. She yelled at us when we asked her to leave. We had to call campus police to take her out of the building.
It was creepy but it was also really funny because we could tell that her son really didn’t want her there.”
When Being Overprotective Backfires
“I was in 8th grade and my teacher was always rude to me. He would send me out of class because I was 3 minutes late, or not accept my math homework because I didn’t work out the problems the way he wanted me to.
So near the end of the year, he assigned an essay to us. The subject was on any president of our choosing. I wrote my essay in about three hours and followed the rubric very closely. I printed out my paper and left it on my desk so I wouldn’t forget it.
Before I went to sleep, my mom asked me if she could borrow the laptop. So I set up the laptop for her and went to sleep.
The next day, I turned in the essay. The next week, I got back the essay with a D- on it. I noticed a bunch of red marks on it.
I read through essay and found out my mom went and wrote more to it, basically switching out my essay. I explained to the teacher what happened and, by the grace of God, he let me turn in mine.
I came back the next day with my essay and got a B+ on it. She never tried again.”
She Just Happened To Be There
“I suddenly recall being in 5th grade around 10 years old. One really shy girl with an overbearing mother complained to the teacher that she was cold and wanted the classroom windows closed. The rest of us were enjoying a bit of air circulation and weren’t cold at all, so we decided to leave the windows open.
Lo and behold, the shy girl’s mum walked into the classroom and closed the windows. Then she walked out again like she had every right. This mother wasn’t in any way employed by the school. Apparently, she just happened to be outside the classroom and overheard her daughter’s complaint. Creepy.”
She Wanted The Grade Changed
“I was a teacher’s assistant for a general chemistry lab in college. A parent emailed me after the first lab report with an annotated copy of the graded assignment, which I gave a B+. Little Johnny had never gotten a B in a class before and I was just being unfair since it was his first semester in college. Long story short, she threatened to go to the professor. I said go ahead, and she did. The professor was awesome.
When kids complain about their grades, he offers them a re-grade. Then, he goes over the report with a fine-toothed comb. The B+ got changed…to a C.”