Have you heard of the term “helicopter parent”?
A helicopter parent is a type of mother or father who can’t stand to see their sweet little angel be independent. The term “helicopter,” therefore – they hover over them 24/7, in order to make sure they behave and treated in a way they wish them to be. It seems forbidden for their child to do anything without their permission.
Parenting is a tough job and learning how to trust your child is even harder. But at one point it must be admitted that hovering around your child, watching every single thing they do is harmful to children development.
Kids need to be able to express themselves, and they are much smarter and independent than they look. Maybe one of true parent’s job is to just be there when they make mistakes, or when they are in their worst.
But helicopter parenting is not the solution.
A recent AskReddit thread gave people the opportunity to share examples of helicopter parenting they’ve witnessed in the wild. Folks, these stories are pretty bonkers.
To the front row with you!
I work in a kindergarten in China. We have about 35 kids in each class, seated in 4 rows of 8 (with a split down the middle) facing the teacher.
We move the children about once a month; each child moves back one row, and the back row gets to sit in the front row.
One parent came in and told us that her child must always be seated in the front row. There’s nothing wrong with the child’s eyesight; she’s just too special to be seated anywhere but the front row I guess. The parent did not request this; she ordered us.
This one has a happy ending!
Music teacher here.
I had a HeliMom of one of my guitar students sit in on him during his first lesson. She was sitting right by him, shoulder to shoulder. As I was talking about various things like how to hold the guitar and how to shape your hands and fingers around the neck she would grab his hand and do it for him. Every single time. For everything.
Time to strum some chords? Mom did that for him too. Can’t get the free hand to squeeze hard enough to make the strings ring? She pressed his fingers for him. He cried out at that and that’s when I stopped and told her she had to let him do it on his own. All I got for that was a sharp look and a “Fine then.”
He tried on his own and the string just made kind of a thud noise and she said: “See he needs me to help him.”
I told her that the only way he was going to be able to do it was to try and do it, on his own. He was the one who had to build up the strength. Things didn’t really progress much after that and I ended the lesson.
With all of that I wasn’t thinking they’d be sticking around for the second week but back they came. The second lesson started off the same and I politely told her she’d have to give him space in order to try. Still, she wasn’t thrilled but relented and got up in a huff and went out into the hall to watch from there.
After she left this kid took a deep breath and was visibly more relaxed. After she stepped out he was able to have his own space and he actually tried on his own; he started to do better. It was awesome. At the end of the lesson, he said he couldn’t wait to come back and his mom came in and grilled him with something like “why can’t you do that when I’m helping you? You don’t want my help? You don’t need my help?”
I could understand stuff like this if he was a young kid, 7 or younger, but dude’s 14 years old. He’s going to be a freshman in the fall.
This poor kid has ended up being one of my best students. His mom still hovers and he’s still a super weird and socially awkward dude from living in a bubble but he’s finally found something he can be good at independently from his mom. It’s really rewarding to see him gaining more and more confidence even if it is slowly, he’ll get there someday.
I’m sure this will never cause any problems in her life.
An incredibly quiet student just flat out refused to engage in any discussion in class.
She was an extremely pleasant girl, she just wouldn’t speak. I brought it up with her mother during an interview and she told me she’d forbidden her daughter to express her opinion and to just listen to the teacher out of fear they wouldn’t agree with her opinion and mark her down out of bias.
I assured her that expressing an opinion wouldn’t get a student marked down in my class and that developing one is important to her learning but she just said: “I’d rather she didn’t.”
This kid is (almost) on fire!
I work in an after school care.
One day a 9-year-old was showing everyone his lighter by trying to set the shirt he was wearing on fire. I obviously took the lighter off him. When his mother came to pick him up I handed it to her and told her about him trying to set his shirt on fire.
Turns out it was her lighter, so I had “no right” to confiscate it and her son just wouldn’t try to set his clothes on fire because, “He’s not an idiot,” so I must be making that up.
Helicopter parenting apparently has no age limit.
Criminal defense lawyer here.
I was talking to my 23-year-old client in the hallway before a court hearing. His mom walked up to me and said forcefully, “He is a CHILD, do you understand me? A CHILD!” Because she was upset that he was in trouble with the law.
There’s no coming back from this one.
While I was student teaching I had a student and his mom was the art teacher.
The student was a straight up douche. Would cheat on any assignment, belittle classmates, etc… Any time the student got in trouble or called out he would run to his mom (the art teacher) and she would fight for him. All the teachers in the schools were afraid of her since she has been in the district for a long time and was thought to do no wrong by the administration.
The student ended up plagiarizing an essay in class. I gave the student a zero (as it was stated in the assignment sheet that all plagiarism would be an automatic zero) and all hell broke loose. Meetings with the principal were set up, mom would come in during my plan period and rip me a new one for failing her kid, and the student would come fake crying to class the work. The essay was a large portion of the grade and would mean he would fail the class. After about two weeks of the mom coming in I finally told her if he turned a new essay into me by the end of the week he could get 50 percent credit on it (would move his grade to a “D” if he got a 100 percent).
The student comes waltzing into class on Friday and hands me his essay. After quickly scanning the essay it just seemed off. After a quick google search, the student took the entire Wikipedia page and copied it for his essay. After school, I went down to the art room to talk to the mom. I still remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
Me: M***** did a great job on his essay! Mom: Great! He was locked up in his room all week working on it. Me: When I looked at his paper I did notice there was an odd section though. Mom: What do you mean? Me: This section has a superscript number on it and I don’t see where he cited it. Mom: That is odd, I’ll ask him about it. Me (pulls out the printed Wikipedia page over his topic that is word-for-word): Here is the Wikipedia page over his topic if you want to look at. Mom (scanning over both and her face turns ghost white): Will he be able to make this up? Me (with a look of disbelief on my face): Absolutely not!
The student ended up getting suspended and mom tried to fight the suspension. She even went as far to look into the legitimacy of the grade since a student teacher taught the course. All in all, the mom is no longer a teacher in the district and the kid is in jail for selling drugs. The rest of the staff loved me for standing up to her and her son.
This one makes my blood boil.
I taught middle school for 1 year. We had a student who was being disruptive in all the classes. He was refusing to turn in work, or even do it. He was constantly causing trouble.
We had each tried several strategies to deal with the behavior in our own time. We had each talked to the parents numerous times, but they never did anything nor believed that the student was doing anything inappropriate. No one was having any success.
Eventually one of the teachers had enough so he suggested we do a meeting between all of the student’s teachers, the guidance counselor, a vice principal, the student, and his parents.
There are 6 teachers plus the vice principal and the guidance counselor all saying the same basic version of, the student needs to pay attention, needs to do the work, needs to stop distracting other students, needs to be respectful, etc. etc.
The mother disbelieves us; it’s not the student’s fault. We all have it in for the student.
A parent who volunteered in her child’s classroom just to videotape her child all day, every day.
She threatened to sue if we did not allow her to. She did this all through elementary. It ended in middle school when they told her no.
She stood outside the fence and videotaped him at P.E. Someone saw this and called the police. She pulled her kid and homeschooled him.
You can’t pick your parents. Or your wedgies.
My mom owned a daycare center, and I worked there when I wasn’t in school. There were some very unique kids and some crazy parents. The one that comes mind though had a 6-year-old son. This kid was an incredible brat, but as soon as you met his parents you understood why. He had just started school and was coming home upset because kids were making fun of him, because of his pacifier that he kept with him and used throughout the day.
So his mom decided to wait with him at the school bus stop and pick him up from there. One day they were waiting and he mentioned he had a wedgie. So right there at the bus stop, in front of all the kids in his class, and the crossing guard, his mom picked it for him. Just stuck her hand down his pants and took care of it for him.
She wouldn’t even let him handle his own wedgie.
Needless to say, that did not help with his teasing.
I’d like to see him try!
A 6-year-old student’s father taught him the phrase “my daddy is going to get you fired” and told him to say it whenever a teacher “mistreated him,” which obviously meant whenever we tried to even remotely discipline him or ask him to do anything such as clean up after himself.
Way to ruin things, mom.
I worked at a Summer Camp and we told scary stories.
One of the boys in the camp couldn’t sleep for the whole week because of some of the stories so his mom demanded the scary stories be banned otherwise she would basically badmouth our programs.
The next Monday the boy complained to me that we couldn’t tell scary stories anymore and was upset about it… Tell that to your mom.
This is not OK.
I had a student who was failing pretty badly, he had a pretty bad attitude and was extremely disrespectful.
When I called his father, the response was “You’re a woman, he doesn’t need to respect you.”
I handed the phone to a male mentor teacher pretty dumbfounded and explained the situation. The male teacher proceeded to ream the dad out and then had the kid transferred from my class to his class. The kid still failed and was still disrespectful. Not sure what the dad had to say about that but at least he couldn’t blame it on me being a woman.
I had a third-grade student whose mother felt that I favored other students over her son. She would call me and yell at me about not treating him fairly and lying.
She snuck past the office a few times to come into the classroom to watch me teach (which of course is illegal and I’d have to call the office). She’d tell me and the principal that she was trying to “catch me in the act [of being dishonest].” (Of course, my principal always defended me and dealt with the parent.)
As a final straw, the mother bought a watch with a voice recorder in it and the boy wore it to school.
He yelled out in the middle of class suddenly, “I’m secretly recording you and you won’t teach here for much longer!” (An 8-yr-old!)
Of course, the watch was confiscated and the child was moved into a different classroom, though the school district could have legally moved him into another. But the mother still never backed down and the next teacher had similar issues.
Parents like this ruin everything.
I had a brief stint as a cheerleading coach.
The kid gives an attitude about doing literally anything. Won’t follow any instruction and usually either sasses me or sits on her phone. Additionally, kid skips practice to snort Xanax and put it on her Snapchat.
OK. I told her that if she wasn’t interested in participating, she can sit in the stands Friday night instead. Kid proceeds to go to the bathroom and calls mother (it’s not like I can actually take away their phones—try dealing with parents on THAT).
Mother drives from work 30 minutes to scream at me for almost an hour. Apparently, it is my fault. Her child is the best on the team and I am clearly targeting her. She says I have destroyed her confidence and am jealous of her talent. She can do whatever she wants if she’s the best on the squad. Okay, lady. I stopped coaching after that year.
The dean in this next story is my hero.
Before uni started we used to hold activities for first-year students. Nothing educational, but always good fun.
Had a student show up with his mother, and she questioned everything we were doing and how it will relate to her son’s studies.
It didn’t. We were very clear that it was all for building relationships and a bit of pre-study enjoyment. It was also a chance to meet older students and get an idea of uni life.
She was having none of it. She wanted to speak with the head of the department and file an official complaint about these activities. Clearly having fun was not part of an education.
The second day she came again and triumphantly said the dean is coming to talk to us. The dean did come, gave us a pep talk and said how much he enjoyed this time of the year, chugged a beer and told us to join him in the local pub later on.
She was speechless and left in a huff dragging her son by the hand.
Neither showed up for the rest of the week.
More delusional parents.
Had a kid bite another kid, had pictures of the bite mark where teeth were clearly visible and the kid admitted to biting the other kid because he got in his way.
Parents said he would never bite anyone and that the picture could be of any type of injury.
There’s so much to unpack here.
Kid asked where dogs came from. Not sure why; I was an English teacher.
I said they were bred from wolves, and gave two common explanations for how human interaction may have started.
Mom called the school, then called me, freaking out that I mentioned evolution. Turned into a whole thing.
It sounds like this mischievous kid got what was coming to him.
Teacher here. We had a student, 5th grade, who was pretty sneaky at first.
He acted innocent but he was far from it. I’ll jump to the end. He stepped on someone when they were laying down during the free reading time. He would constantly talk and prevent the class from getting to lunch and specials on time and did this just to cause trouble.
He hit someone with a meter stick. He would “accidentally” kick people. He stole stuff. He cursed.
Mom came out and said we were singling him out and he would never do those things and told us to stop contacting her. Later he did something else, something like ripping up classroom decorations or something like that, and the principal saw it.
The principal called the mom. Instead of accepting her child does wrong she pulled him out of school. Since he hadn’t been doing his work this kid that was actually quite smart had all F’s as transfer grades.
How dare you let kids do their own crafts!
I’m a nanny on the upper east side of New York and while my boss is a good non-helicopter father, I routinely have play dates with other kids. I have a 4, 8, and 13-year-old, so I’ve seen it all. Here’s a favorite story:
A mother of one of my girl’s little friends called my boss up furious and insisting he fire me because I let her child play with sidewalk paint. She was mad I made her 7-year-old use a paint brush, instead of doing the drawing for him after he told me what he wants. He could’ve poked his eye out with a brush according to her, and it was irresponsible.
This one takes the cake.
The mom of a girl I went to college with had a fax line installed in her daughter’s dorm room and made her send all of her homework assignments and papers to her for edits and approval before turning anything in.
The girl is now a journalist at a prominent newspaper.
I’ve always wondered if her mom is still ghostwriting.
Of course they believed the kid and not the babysitter.
I once took a babysitting job when I was 17 to earn some extra cash.
The 9-year-old child wanted to play soccer inside, I told him many times not to do it and even took the ball away. He had another one and kicked the ball all around the house completely ignoring me, he broke a lamp, some picture frames after knocking down a shelf, and a window.
When the parents came home they blamed me for the damages and thought I was screwing around in the house, why? Because the kid said I was doing that, never took another babysitting job after that.
Because you had nothing better to do with your time.
I emailed a parent to say their child was currently passing, but could technically fail the class if the did poorly on their final project and final exam.
In the ensuing parent-teacher conference, I was told I was trying to fail the student and ruin his football scholarship.
I didn’t answer a phone call from my parents in college and they called security at 7 am on a Saturday to knock on my dorm room to wake me up and call them.
Talked to all my high school teachers prior to the first day of school to get extra books so I didn’t have to carry anything home.
Sent a handwritten letter to me asking me not to go to my bf house during the week because the road was too dangerous. I was 23.
Wrote my high school papers for me.
Sorry for saving your life.
I work daily with kids in outdoor programs.
I screamed at a kid who was about to run into the road while a car was coming. The only time I ever scream like that is when a child’s life is in danger.
The child proceeded to have a meltdown because, as I later found out, he never gets disciplined and his parents never hold boundaries with him.
His mother was there and comforted him. She wasn’t mad at me but she was saying “She is sorry she yelled at you!” and I was like “No, I’m not. I stopped him from getting hit by a car.”
I guess all books sin?
I volunteer at a library.
A mom wouldn’t let her 10-year-old kid read Diary of a Wimpy Kid because “they sin.”
I guess this is more “helicopter aunting,” but I think it still applies. I’m a college professor, so 99.9 percent of the time I never hear from my students’ parents — and, legally, thanks to FERPA laws, couldn’t talk to them about their students even if I wanted to.
Last year, during the final week of one of the summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen I teach in, I got an email from one of my student’s aunt. She wrote me a 5-page-long email (I copied it into Word because I was curious) detailing, line by line and comment by comment, why she disagreed with what I’d written on her niece’s essay and the rationale I’d used to give it an F.
Every. Single. One of my comments (on a 5-page essay) had a short paragraph devoted to picking apart the comment and rebutting it. In the end, she lambasted my teaching and suggested I’d failed the student out of spite. (Totally untrue — the girl could barely string together a coherent sentence, let alone a grammatically correct one.)
When I told her I wasn’t allowed to talk to her about her student’s grades due to federal law, she called the program director and demanded I be fired.
The fun twist at the end of this story, though, is that we ultimately figured out why she was so angry with my comments: Turns out she’d been writing her niece’s essays all summer and had taken my comments personally. Needless to say, the student was removed from the program.
This one is just sad.
My wife was an 8th-grade reading teacher in rural Alabama.
During a parent-teacher conference, she was asked: “Why does he need to know how to read, he’s going to be a farmer anyway?”
You could not pay me enough money to agree to this.
Had a student with major emotional and behavioral issues in third grade.
Parents in complete denial that anything was wrong and refused to get him any help or support. They had a reason for everything he did.
At one point they decided a lack of fiber was what was making him do things like share elaborate and disturbing stories to the other kids, hide under tables, etc.
They wanted me to ask him twice a day if he had pooped yet, and email them updates.
Here’s an example of “helicopter parenting” gone right:
I’ll throw in the BEST case of Helicopter parenting I’ve ever seen. And I mean this is how it should be done.
The wife and I took her little ones to the park, they were 4 and 6 I think. There was a boy there maybe 8 or 9, alone, with just his mom. The two of them were running around the play structure playing tag. She was leaping up the slide to chase him, swinging over bars running over obstacles and both laughing and having a flipping blast.
My wife and I looked at each other and said we NEED to start playing with our kids like that. And I’ll tell you what, it’s a WORKOUT. Kudos to that mom of a single boy who ROCKED parenting that day.