Parenting is a pretty complicated job, and most people would be willing to admit at least that their parents made some mistakes during their childhood. Some parents, however, go above and beyond to mess things up for their children, either intentionally or with the best of intentions. Read the stories below to hear from people who have interacted with kids whose parents are more than just involved: they're "helicopter" parents, meaning they take a far-too-active role in their children's lives. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My senior class in high school had planned a graduation trip to a beach resort to celebrate the end of school. Most of us were 18 by this point, so legally adults, of drinking age, and what have you. The parents held a meeting with us because they wanted chaperones on this trip (because their precious babies would be surrounded by drinking and what not). Well, this didn't fly with most of us students, obviously. In the end we negotiated down to one chaperone (who was the one who allowed his kid to throw parties at his house so that way we wouldn't do anything stupid on the street). It was stated at that meeting that any other parent that wanted to go was going on their own dime and had nothing to do with our trip.
The day of the trip comes, we all meet at the school to get on the buses. One kid's mom shows up in a sundress, sun glasses, and a big ol' bag ready to get on the bus with us. Instant reaction was 'uuhh what?' So when we asked her what was going on, she said she had volunteered as a chaperone. Again, what? Our class president had to tell her that we had explicitly stated who the designated chaperone was, and asked if she had paid her stay. She goes off the rails, screaming at class president about how she had asked for the week off from work, how she thought her stay was to be paid by us for chaperoning (which originally we said we are not having chaperones and only accepted the one designated chaperone because we knew he'd give us our space and he was pretty much family to a lot of us in the class), etc.
She keeps going off on the prez until the kid just says, 'Ma'am, you did not pay. We have no room for you, goodbye.' Prez got on the bus and we rode away. God I felt sorry for the kid.
That wasn't even the only case of helicopter parenting that week. On the second day, a group of moms showed up to 'visit' and 'just spend some time in the sun.' Ooof, that killed the vibe for a few people.
I'll always appreciate my parents being able to back off when needed and be there when needed. Most of the time they were really against my ideas, but would let me figure it out on my own. It usually ended up in me doing something stupid and showing up later saying 'you were right.'"
"I was working summer orientation for my old community college and we have new students register for classes towards the end of the session. Counselors are there to help with class selection.
This one mom was literally hovering over her son telling him which classes to choose, and completely ignoring the counselor's advice, when she had him stand up. She proceeded to sit down and she herself started registering her son for his classes.
I tried to intervene, letting her know that we ask that the student register themselves, and that he'll be doing online registration for the rest of his college career. I was told to eff off.
Later I pulled him aside and told him to change his password and swap into a class more appropriate for his placement exams.
It was this incident that triggered us to design a parent orientation to keep them away from their kids.
Welcome to adulthood lil bro!
It was a good. Allowed us to design information sessions like adult boundaries, how to appropriately support their student, and literally one on how to let go... Lol."
"Ugh, this one kid I knew from elementary-high school had a mom that was just absolutely insane.
The mom didn't have a job and somehow managed to be at his school EVERY SINGLE DAY, watching over him.
In elementary, she was a volunteer Teacher's Aid every year which meant she would help out in whatever class he was in. By middle school, she was the head of the PTA and although not necessary, she was at the campus almost every day. She would just wander around and eventually, the school stopped caring and she could do whatever she wants. She would randomly pop into one of his classes and just observe or come up to him to hangout with him at lunch.
The kid was 24/7 stressed the heck out, his whole body always clenched up. His mom put IMMENSE pressure on him to do well in school both academically and behavior wise.
He had an extremely hard time making friends and eventually he was bullied to the point of randomly getting beat up. Made it to the first year of high school before he had to transfer to another school.
It's her fault, all she wanted was for him to be smart and polite to teachers and he never got to learn how to just be a guy and make friends.
From what I know, he went off and joined the Marines. He was desperate to just be a part of a group as a teen and with the marines he learned comraderie and now is always posting pics of him and his marine buddies. Worked out for him in the end, I think."
"I work at an admissions front counter for a university so I get helicopter parents all the time over the phone, but I had a mom that had me laughing over the phone because of how ridiculous she was. Let's call her Susan for reference.
At first, she was normal. She was just asking about general admissions processes and what are the requirements. However, where she messed up was when she admitted she did the application for him because 'he is a boy and you know how boys can be so I just did it for him.' Then she started to fly off the walls. She asked if the campus was open because she wanted to visit her son EVERY SINGLE DAY since they live 15 minutes away from the main campus. Susan tried making herself not sound bat guano crazy by sliding in her bringing him baked goods and home cooked meals, but I know she just wants to pester her child. There was another talk about how she wanted to get access to his student account to see his grades. I told her that she was not going to be allowed to get that access because her child will be considered an adult and the student has to give HER permission by signing a FERPA form. She wanted to know how and where to get those documents ASAP.
As far as social life, Susan asked if there were parties on campus. It's a college, of course there are going to be parties. The worst part is that she asked if they are supervised....by PARENTS!!!! This is where I couldn't help but laugh because why did she think that this was a high school setting? Susan then followed up with, 'Well, how will I know where he is going or if he gets in trouble?'
I said, very casually, 'Ma'am if your student decides to do something illegal (smoke weed/drink underaged) and gets caught by campus police and gets arrested, you'll be getting that phone call.'
And she had nothing else to say."
"My sons befriended the 'new' kid in middle school. Home schooled through elementary school years, but parents wanted him to interact with kids. He's a good kid. Smart, but guarded and sheepish but he got along great with my sons. They want to have a sleepover. He gets dropped off and his mother hands me a list. It had to be 4 pages long of his routine, dos and dont's and everything (Adam is not to have anything to drink after the hour of 8 pm. He needs to brush his teeth with the toothbrush we sent him with. He needs to be asleep by blah blah blah).
I have three kids. I can keep a 12 year old kid alive for 20 hours without a list. She would text me non stop. I felt bad for the kid. I let him know, 'Listen, if you bend a few of these rules, I'll never tell your mom if you won't,' and he had this huge smile. I'm not sure what kind of people helicopter parents think they're creating, but it can't be a fun one that's for sure."
"I had one ex girlfriend whose mom was probably the most shocking example of a horrible helicopter mom that I've ever seen.
We met in elementary school and reconnected later in our 20’s. She was very shy, and timid, but sweet and intelligent. I thought I would give it a go. She was 24 and still lived with her parents—no big deal to me. I didn’t move out on my own until a few months before we began dating. Little did I know that it wasn’t really her choice to live there—her mother was incredibly controlling and was the worst helicopter parent I’ve ever come across.
Her mom would repeatedly say to us, 'It’s nice you guys are dating, but I think you’re both too young to be doing it.' Mind you, we were both 24. She also mentioned (on several occasions) 'I didn’t begin dating until I was in my 30’s. I don’t think anyone should date until they’re 30-35.' Things like that. My girlfriend was really annoyed by her comments and constantly got into this weird teenage-like arguments with her. One time her mom said, 'Oh, that’s just your young hormones kicking in.' That was weird. Anyway.
My girlfriend had to text her mom before she left anywhere and when she arrived. Her mom used to google map the time and Distance between places. If she forgot to text her, she received an insane amount or phone calls or texts. Her mom made her get paper checks so her mom could 'keep track' of her money, and would not allow her to get direct deposit. She was also way over precautious about things.
One time we went for a walk around dusk. She lived in a small town (population 2000-2,500) and lived on the side of town that was well lit and hardly any sort of vehicle traffic. Her mother sent her dozens of texts within minutes of us leaving begging her to come home because 'you’re both not wearing reflective clothing,' and 'this is a bad idea because it’s getting dark,' and 'I’m trying to protect you! Walking in the dark is incredibly dangerous.' This and that. As a side note, her mom also used to make little hits at me for my job at the time. She said 'I don’t think it’s a good career path.' I worked at a bank as a relationship manager—managing bank accounts and opening investment accounts for higher net worth individuals—and was looking to get my MBA. I was actively studying for the GRE exam."
"One of my neighbor's kids was a good basketball player, but she just didn't have the height for the position she played at a DI school. Coaches recruiting her told her that she could play DI if she switched positions, but her mother (who was a coach) would tell these coaches that her daughter wouldn't change positions, and to basically take it or leave it. Well, pretty much everyone chose to not extend scholarship offers at the DI level because of it.
She ended up getting a really good scholarship to a DII school that had the academic program she wanted (they even had a 6 year program that combined undergrad and the post-undergraduate school she would've had to go to, so the process would've basically been seamless to become a licensed professional in her field). However, her mother was so controlling over her recruiting that she told her daughter she couldn't go there because the coach didn't send her a bunch of cards and whatnot (basically things schools send to recruits to try to convince them to commit--it's mostly flattery), so she wouldn't allow her kid to commit there.
Instead, she made her kid commit to this tiny DIII school in the middle of nowhere (literally nowhere, extremely small and rural) that didn't even have the academic program her kid wanted. Her reasoning was that her kid would get a good Christian education (but how good is any education if it doesn't even have what you want to study?). Eventually, the kid, with help from her father, quit playing basketball and transferred to a large state school because she hated the small Christian school so much, and she could finally study what she wanted to study.
Her mom was so controlling that she ended up giving up on the sport she loved. This all would've been avoided if she had just gone to the DII school, but no, her mom took way too much control and ended up ruining her kid's college athletic career.
The daughter has since graduated and moved away, but based on the last conversation we had, she seems to be doing well. I think she was looking at grad schools, but I don’t think she’s started yet."
"A little girl who lived down the road from me and that I used to babysit lived with a helicopter mother. Her mom was so obsessive she basically pushed the father out of the picture without actually separating or divorcing. I quit babysitting when she was about 5 cause I couldn't take it anymore, my sister took over though and they were neighbours so I kept up to date.
She didn't learn how to speak until she was 4. Not due to any learning disability but her mom emphasized not encouraging her to talk and that 'she would learn when she's ready.' She only taught her basic sign language to ask for food or drink. Ended up falling and hurting herself pretty badly (internal injuries) and couldn't communicate it to her parents cause she didn't know how to talk. It was only her dad's quick thinking and taking her to the hospital that saved her life. Learned how to talk pretty quickly after that.
When it came time for her to go to school (literally down the road from their house, maybe 6 houses down) her mom couldn't handle the separation and would show up to the school every day. This got the school super angry and while she made it through kindergarten it was a few months into first grade when the school requested that she limit her visits to once a week and to only use that time to actually assist in volunteering like the other parents.
So she reacted like a reasonable adult (not) and immediately pulled her daughter out of school and began homeschooling her.
Kid is probably around 18-19 now? Last saw her (with her mom of course) a couple years ago at a wedding and she seemed alright but who knows how well-adjusted she actually is."
"A guy my dad went to university with back in the day married into a helicopter parent situation.
This guy, we will call him Dave, met a girl (Cindy) at Uni and they began dating and eventually engaged. However, during the dating process, Cindy's mother insisted on spending time with both of them when they were together. She even joined her daughter on their first date without either of them warning Dave until he came to pick her up. Cindy's mother was very much in their business, showing up to their dates and sitting at tables nearby and watching them.
Somehow, they manage to push through this, fall in love and get engaged. While they are planning out their honeymoon, Cindy's mother finds the name of the resort they are staying in, contacts the hotel and reserved the room right next door to them for herself. Also, buys tickets on the same flight as them to and from their destination.
During the honeymoon she would follow them everywhere they went. Constantly yelling at Dave for drinking on the beach, eating too much food, or even snoring too loud at night (that's how Dave discovered she was listening to them through the shared wall).
Honeymoon ends and they go home to their house for the first time, but Cindy doesn't move in at the demand of her mother. The mother constantly ran screens on them spending more time together and basically forced Cindy to continue to live at home with her.
Needless to say, Dave and Cindy got a divorce within a year of the wedding. Last Dave had heard, Cindy still hasn't remarried."
"I once knew a woman who was a germaphobe. I don't mean that she was just a really clean person. She was, but I'm guessing she could've had some kind of OCD/anxiety disorder. She had 2 year old that loved to play outside but she wouldn't let him touch the ground directly. She would literally put the poor kid in a kind of hamster ball type fortress and then put him on the ground. He was crawling around like a gerbil without ever touching anything. I don't know where they are now but I hope that kid is okay."
"As an RA, I was checking students into their dorm rooms. One mother came with her son, who looked to be about 25, and she would not let him get a single word in. She went on about it being his first year in college and that she was finally approving of him moving away from home and actually going to college (a big yikes we kept an eye on later). When he was assigned to a traditional room with a roommate, she flipped her crap, saying how she wanted him in an apartment so she could stay with him whenever she wanted (can’t do that anyway) and she would withdraw him from school if she didn’t get her way. Thankfully, I was already dead inside from dealing with other residents so I checked her son in, and immediately gave him the number of my boss in case his mother gave any more problems while he was moving in.
I later heard from another RA that she tried to prevent the roommate from entering their shared room, even though her son was desperately trying to get her to leave. The RA and student security had to force her out of the building where she sat until her son was done moving in.
The son was actually a really cool dude once his mother was out of his hair, and a really involved student, happy to be on his own and living the college life, even if he was a bit older. His mom still managed to call our duty phones asking about him, but because of federal laws, we just hung up."
"This woman known as the 'Dragon Lady' to our high school marching band.
Standard WASP family with a pastor dad and a mom who ruled the roost. Dragon Lady was band president during both of hers sons' time there. The sons were very good kids (I had the biggest crush on the younger one my freshman year), but naturally they tried to break free of their strictness.
Despite being in the 2010s for high school, the boys didn't get a phone to call home with until they were both seniors (just flip phones for calling, BUT NO TEXTING!). Dragon Lady was there anytime school or practice was happening, anyway. They couldn't date any girls unless mom approved, so of course they dated behind the parents' backs. When they got found out, parents made them break up and ripped the boy a new butthole. Never got to go to proms, homecoming, any sort of after school event that wasn't church-sanctioned. When they graduated, both were shipped off to a tiny, private, Christian college somewhere up in Ohio.
For the record, the one I crushed on ghosted everyone he knew, then reappeared with a family-approved, god-fearing wife at the age of 20."
"I was at a Big Gigantic concert in Dallas (Big Gigantic is the band name not the actual size of the concert). This group is a funky/EDM band and needless to say there is plenty of narcotics use and drinking at their shows, not to mention most people are dressed a little differently. I was hanging near the rear walking around the crowd with my girlfriend with this rather tall chick in pigtails comes up to us. She was asking questions about our experience, if this was our first show and what other music we liked. She looked like an overgrown school girl but I had no issue talking with her but I couldn't help but notice this older man was standing behind her, hands behind his back and just kind of rocking back and forth trying not to look awkward.
Come to find out this guy was her dad and he didn't want his daughter going out to a show without him being there for her. I felt a little odd with this man just kind of hanging out right next to us so my girlfriend and I said goodbye and walked away. We later walk around the same spot and the girl is there dancing and her father is leaning on a rail with his arms crossed looking bored as heck. We sat and watched a little and every time a guy would inch a little closer the farther would kind of stare him down a little and they would all kind of back off slowly. It was actually a little amusing. Needless to say, I get you need to protect your kids but this girl just wanted to meet some new friends at a show and share music interest and the father seemed to be hindering that. Let your girl go to the show man and pick her up afterwards!"
"My roommate was the daughter of a helicopter. Her mom actually tried to shame my mom for allowing me to play video games and stuff. My mom was also very open about things like premarital intimacy, basically 'you’re going to do stupid stuff, just use some protection to be stupid responsibly.' Her mom would write letters and put at the bottom ‘p.s. do not touch boys!!!’
My roommate would dip out and spend days holed up in some other guy’s dorm. Wasn’t such an issue at first because it was just her boyfriend and he was actually pretty tight, but then she broke up with him and started spending the time with random guys she’s just met. Which like, fine, sleep with whoever you want, but she freaked out when I asked her to just tell me where she was and whether to expect her back that night. Once she just dipped out at 2 AM for ‘a walk’ and didn’t come back. I literally just wanted to have a way of knowing if she legit went missing and could tell the police who she was with. (Of course she didn’t use any sort of phone either)
Meanwhile, I stayed in our room and played Fallout. Me going ‘buck wild’ being away from my parents was basically me eating frosting out of the tin with a spoon because nobody told me I couldn’t. I mean, crappy eating habits still aren’t good, but my body wasn’t going to be found in a ditch that way.
Eventually she came back, thankfully. Nothing bad ever happened to her, to my knowledge at least, but like...it could have gone south real fast."