Helicopter parents just can't let their kids be kids. Some child psychologists (unsurprisingly) say that helicopter parenting does more harm than good for kids. Whether it's their parents or just someone they know, these people share the worst cases of helicopter parenting they have ever seen. Content has been edited for clarity.
Who has a parent like these? Content has been edited for clarity.
“We Felt Bad For Him”
“When I was little, the mother of a kid in my fourth-grade class volunteered at the school. She would literally sit in class with him all day and assist him with his assignments. He wasn’t special needs or anything. He was just a normal kid like the rest of us.
Anytime someone tried to befriend him, his mother always ‘chaperoned’ the introduction. This was back in the ’90s and we were kids, so anything involving parents was off-putting. I remember inviting him to play kickball, but his mother didn’t want him getting hurt. We felt bad for him.”
This Guy Was Way Out Of Line
“I work as a lab assistant in one of the labs at my school. I had to come in for something on a Saturday just after classes started for the semester. Some dude shows up and starts pounding on the glass door, so I go down and ask him what he wanted. He says he wants to talk to someone about how his son is doing in his classes. I point out that it is 3 p.m. on a Saturday, and there are no professors in the building. I ask him if he has permission from his student (as he has to have written permission or proof of the kid being a dependent on the taxes in order to discuss his grades). He says he’s covered, so I tell him to come back Monday with his paperwork (as he doesn’t have anything on him right then), or no one will be able to talk to him, legally.
So, Monday comes around and I’m getting out of classes. And I see the dude walking out a lecture hall followed by two of the campus police. It’s the same guy, and he just decided he was going to sit in on his kid’s classes. The professor told him to leave, and he refused.
Come to find out, the dude was helicopter parenting a kid who was a step-kid, five years ago. The mom divorced the dude, partially for helicopter parenting, and remarried. No permission, no tax dependent, not even legally related anymore. Helicopter parent got a restraining order slapped on him.”
She Pretended To Be Her Son
“During a group chat last Halloween, some friends and I were talking about which horror movie to watch. One friend and I were debating over ‘Ouija 2’ and ‘Alien,’ when another buddy of mine chimed in out of the blue after not responding for a while. So we ask for his opinion, yet he didn’t know what we were talking about. He had absolutely no frame of reference for anything we mentioned and was constantly trying to change the topic. He started messaging us about why using illegal substances is bad, went on a biblical rant, then had an episode talking about why swearing is bad.
As it turns out, my friend’s mother had taken his phone and pretended to be him to try to squeeze out any information on us, which is just really creepy, and we somewhat ended up avoiding him a bit later. This mother also has a tracker on his phone, and is generally a religious fanatic.”
They Wouldn’t Leave Him Alone
“My college boyfriend had overbearing parents. When we were on our first date, his parents called several times throughout, which he ignored because of romance. He finally answered at the end of the date, just in time to stop his parents from making the hour-long drive to our school. They were used to him answering right away, and so they were panicking. He was 20 years old at the time. I found out later that his mother called four to five times a day just to check in and see what he was up to.
His mother learned my AIM screen name just so she could message me in the middle of the day and demand to know where he was. The kicker was I never knew, because we were studying completely different fields and our paths never really crossed during the day. So every day she’d ask where he was, and every day I’d answer, ‘I don’t know. In class?’
He stopped going home every single weekend so that he could occasionally spend weekends with me, which kicked off a feud with his parents because I taught him ‘disrespect,’ a.k.a. ‘independence.’
Their helicopter parenting led to helicopter boyfriending, which led to the demise of the relationship.”
She Couldn’t Do Anything For Herself
“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 a 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 her dad did. When we were going over the rules and regulations with her, she was staring off into space. 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.”
They Treat Their Adult Children Like Little Kids
“The parents of mid-to-high-functioning special needs adults are typically overbearing.
Being special needs myself, I have a lot of friends who are at varying levels of cognitive/intellectual disability, but none who are so low functioning that they cannot think, speak, or make decisions for themselves. The parents of these 22-to-28-year-olds are absolutely freaking outrageous. These grown adults are not allowed to do a thing without parental approval, or without the parents directly behind them at all times.
Are they having a birthday party and inviting a friend their mother doesn’t like? Then they don’t get to invite that friend. ‘And I don’t care if they’re your friend and you like them, I don’t like them, so I don’t want them at your party.’ Usually, they’re forced to invite people whose parents are friends with their own parents, so the party ends up becoming all about the parents. And it’s awkward.
I once brought a plate of cookies to share at one of our bowling nights because I thought it was a nice thing to do. I opened them and left them out on the table for anyone who wanted any. My friends asked me what the cookies were for, are they for them, and could they have any. ‘They’re for Valentine’s Day. Yep, I brought the cookies for you. Go ahead, help yourselves.’ By the end of the day, there was hardly a dent in the pile of cookies. Why? ‘Don’t you take any of those.’ ‘No, you can’t have those.’ ‘You don’t need cookies.’ ‘Put that down, please.’ ‘That’s fine, but she doesn’t need any cookies.’ That was the end of my bringing cookies/cupcakes in to share.
The parents have to be directly behind or beside their kid at all times at every single party and every single outing hosted by our centers. I don’t mean just in the same room, within calling distance, or in the same building. I mean directly beside them. At all times. My friend, aged 25, was not allowed to have a diet soda at a birthday party because ‘diet soda is not healthy’ and ‘you can have water. That’s it.’ She got incredibly angry and stormed out of the party.
Everything the parents do, the ‘kid’ has to do, too. Never mind if the kid wants to go do something else. ‘No, we’re doing this thing and you’re doing it with me.’ These 22-to-28-year-old grown men and women still get ‘grounded’ by their parents, still get ‘in trouble’ with their parents, still have to ‘be careful what they say or do, or else their mom will punish them.’ They still get told to ‘watch their mouths’ if they say curse words.
I’ve given up trying to invite my friends to parties or outings or anything, and it sucks because I’ve had to miss out on a lot of holidays and birthdays spent with my friends. Their parents either show up with them and make everything awkward, or outright tell them, ‘No, you’re not going to a party at Nova’s.’ I have a reputation as the ‘bad girl’ in the parents’ eyes, when I’m probably the weakest ‘bad girl’ you ever will meet, as I do not drink, I do not do any illegal substances, I am an overachieving university student, and I do not get in trouble with the law. Yet my friends’ parents act like I’m going to have us all doing illegal activities while shooting fireworks out our butts at a party where the most extreme things we do are play soccer in the yard and eat pizza and cake. It sucks even more because my friends really want to come to every party I have, and they can’t because their parents have decided I’m bad news. They don’t think I’m bad news. But their parents do. Again, we’re all in our 20s.
Lately, one of my centers has been coming under fire for serving desserts at the holiday parties. Our Thanksgiving dinner was sadly pieless, consisting only of tiny three-inch pie tarts for dessert, and we were only allowed two of them. Considering that the past two years were chock full of pumpkin, sweet potato, and chocolate cream pie, nobody was happy. The Halloween party used to be full of tables of all manner of treats and candies. This year? ‘Sorry, but I’d feel too guilty if I didn’t serve you healthy foods.’ That’s super-nice-staff-member code for, ‘The parents got on my case for letting you eat sugar. I hate having to do this too, but I’m dealing with parents that think their 28-year-old is going to die from eating candy on Halloween.’
Thankfully, I brought in some candy for the candy-fishing game I had planned to play with everyone that night. And no, the staff didn’t mind it. They played too!”
Offended By A Hug?
“One time in kindergarten I hugged one of my friend’s, as kids tend to do. As it turns out, his mom didn’t like the fact that I hugged my friend (I am not sure if it had to do with the fact that we are both boys).
To avoid any sort of confrontation with my friend’s mom, my mom had to tell me that it’s not okay to hug everyone.”
He Didn’t Know How Strange His Mother’s Rules Were
“This is my favorite story because it makes me laugh every time my husband tells it. His mom used to make him poop with the doors open (she is crazy, and I don’t have time to tell all of her antics). Because of this, he was always just used to not being able to close the bathroom door.
When he was like eight years old, he was invited to a friends house for the first time and had to poop. So, naturally, he went to the bathroom and started letting it blow with the door wide open for an audience, which attracted several members of the family to just stare at him until the kid’s mother came and shut the door. He could hear the family laughing.
When he was done and came out of the bathroom, the kid’s mother told him ‘I don’t know what happens at your house, but over here we shut the door when we’re using the toilet.’ His mom also made him keep the door open when showering, too. I don’t know when he realized that was also wrong.”
She Freaked Over Nothing
“When my kid was in preschool, a lady and her son came to check out the school one day. She was really cool, and her son played well with all the kids. He started full time the next week. On his very first day, he went down the slide too fast and landed on his knees on the mulch. He wasn’t hurt at all, just got right back up to play.
The next day, his mom came in to THROW A FIT. She said someone should have held his hand as he went down the slide, and couldn’t believe there wasn’t an ‘incident report’ filled out. They never came back.”
“I Still Cannot Believe That Happened”
“I once had to fire a woman. She was 27 at the time. She wasn’t showing up on time and just generally had a bad attitude. After trying to work with her on those issues, I caught her clocking in and then just leaving the store and leaving a new employee alone for hours at a time.
She was really upset and in tears after I told her she was no longer working with us. I’m not a heartless person, so told her to sit in the back room until her ride came. Her MOTHER burst in through the door while customers are perusing the store to demand what had happened, why did her baby get fired, etc.
I awkwardly replied, ‘Why don’t you and she discuss that later, I just really want to get her home.’ I still cannot believe that happened.”
What Did They Think Was Going To Happen?
“Some friends of mine wouldn’t let their kid take the school bus. He was in kindergarten, so I didn’t think too much of it.
But on the first day of first grade, they said he could take the bus, but they would drive to the school to make sure he got off the bus and into school. Kudos to the kid: He told them he didn’t want them to do that and they backed off.”
This Poor Kid
“This woman moved her daughter up a grade, which caused the poor little girl to be ostracized by the class of older kids for behaving immaturely. When her mother found out a bunch of 8-year-olds aren’t likely to respond well to a 7-year-old with a superiority complex, Mama made it worse by deciding she would force the kids to like her daughter. She threatened to sue the school for not addressing her daughter being ‘bullied.’ The school didn’t take the threat seriously because, no, you can’t sue somebody because nobody will play with your kid.
As far as I know, the mom never sued, but she still whines, even two years later.”
She Was Always Watching
“In middle school, I had a lot of friends with helicopter parents, but one was especially bad. When he would come over to my house to hang out, his mom would walk in and sit in my kitchen until he had to leave for dinner. She wouldn’t talk to my parents or anything; just sit there for a few hours and leave.
The one time, I went to their house it was filled with security cameras, both visible and hidden like it was from some sort of dystopian society.”
Bones Of Glass, Skin Of Paper
“There is a 3-year-old kid at my school whose mom is totally convinced that if he is allowed to carry his backpack up the stairs, his spine will become deformed. The backpack weighs about a pound.
I tried explaining to her that the way muscles get strong is through use and that not letting him use his muscles is much more likely to cause damage. I didn’t even bother getting into the way children use their bodies to regulate their emotions. News flash: Making your kids feel like their bones are made of glass will only cause physical, psychological, and social damage. Let your kid carry his own bag.”
He Would Always Wait To Help Her… During Class
“In a class I was taking, we had to turn in a project that was due at the beginning of the class. One day, this girl didn’t bring her project at the beginning of the class but waited until our 30-minute break. Her assignment wouldn’t print so her father came in class (during the 30-minute break) and helped her print it out to turn it in. We had a class printer.
Her dad would sit outside of every class in the waiting area for five hours. He would help her during the break between classes.”
Everyone Knew How Obsessive His Father Was
“My dad was such a helicopter parent that he became a meme at my high school. He was a good guy, but always checking my ‘PowerSchool’ (an online grading resource) and printing it out/highlighting things he didn’t like, then passive-aggressively leaving the paper with his notes on my bed. Always reminded me of stuff I had coming up for the week even when I mentioned it beforehand.
It got to the point that whenever someone got a bad grade/did something stupid, people would look at him/her and say my name in a condescending, drawn-out Boston accent, imitating my father.”
She Wouldn’t Let Him Enjoy It On His Own
“I used to practice and study a martial art. I eventually became an assistant and helped lead the class.
Doing the kids class was always fun but exhausting. There were some hyper kids, but overall it was great. I would leave the kids class exhausted. Those kids can go. So this one kid was perfectly normal and did not have a behavioral problem at all. He was very polite and always a good student. Usually, he came with his friend and that kid’s family, but I was also there at times when his mom brought him. Holy crap!
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 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-trying to demonstrate 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 attention off the kid, and there was a big screen TV on the wall for when they wanted to check on their children.
Some of us lower rank assistants who had dealt with her informally dubbed it, ‘Maggie’s room,’ after that obnoxious woman. Surely not the evilest or most egregious case of helicopter parenting, but hey, she caused construction to happen.”