Educators Share The Worst Cases Of Helicopter Parenting They've Ever Seen
Rites of passage and simply being your own person are concepts that some parents just don't grasp. This happens in school especially, where parents will sometimes spy on classes or insist that they stay with their kids. It's overprotection to the extreme, and it doesn't do anyone any good.
robo-bonobo asked educators of Reddit: xWhat is the worst case of helicopter parenting you've ever seen?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
15. Drone parenting.
This is 2nd Grade. I'm in the middle of teaching when one of my students says, "Amy's mom is watching us." I look at the very large window into the hall and see Amy's mom standing in the window, and she is indeed watching us. I only saw her for a brief second though because as soon as I made eye contact, she ducked.
I opened the door, walked out of my room, and Amy's mom was right there squatting on the floor.
Can I help you? No Are you here to volunteer? No Unfortunately, parents are only allowed on campus if they are volunteering, even then, they are required to sign in and get a name badge. Have a nice day!
She remained squatting for the entirety of the conversation.
That's video game parenting with a poor stealth skill. They stayed ducked like that hoping you'd reset so they can pretend it never happened.
14. Billy Madison parenting.
Had a parent want to sit in and observe classes every day for weeks.
It's because they aren't able to re-enroll themselves after dropping out all those years ago. They just want another chance!
Haha that may be true! I've had plenty of parents do their kids' homework for them. "Ma'am, this is brilliant work. I was able to give you an A for the project. Johnny, however, will receive an F, as he did not complete the work."
13. This isn't how independence works.
I work with a program for college students with learning and intellectual disabilities such as autism and down syndrome. We teach the students skills to be independent. They stay in apartments and go to college while working jobs. Obviously the goal is for them to be independent enough to live on their own. Well one student had parents who lived close by, most students are not from the area. These parents came over every weekend and washed his dishes, bought him groceries, and would clean his room. These are all things we teach them to do independently. Should have just saved their money and kept him at home.
My cousin's parents did that for 2 years when he was in uni, his mom was cooking him weekly food and packing them for him every weekend and he was bringing dirty sheets and clothes back every weekend even tho he had a washing machine and a dryer.
Now that I think about it I had some friends my freshman year in college who went home every weekend. Their parents would drive about an hour to pick them up, then an hour pack home. Every weekend without fail. Way to not let your children learn and experience real life,
12. Pride goeth...
I did a placement in a school while studying to be a math teacher. On my very last day at the school, a year 9 girl (Edit: she was probably 15 years old in year 9) in the top class came to class crying. We set up a seat outside for her so she wouldn't be embarrassed while she calmed down.
I thought ohh maybe boy trouble or a fight with a friend since this girl usually had an aura of confidence and was a cool kid/class clown. So I thought I could help her out and get her into class in a short time or give her the lesson outside anyway.
Instead we spent an hour talking about her suicidal depression. I had wondered why she sometimes seemed to get concepts in trigonometry and sometimes didn't. I had been previously been working with her in small groups because she needed the attention. It turns out she'd been guessing or copying from others. She had been doing this so well because she had 3 years of experience in faking how good she was at school.
Despite being in several top classes, she was borderline illiterate. She had no fundamentals and couldn't read the material or understand any explanations. But she could fake it really well or was naturally smart enough to wing it. But it drove her to this breakdown.
So why is this story in a thread about helicopter parenting? This girl told me the only reason she was in any of the higher classes was because her mum insisted the school put her there. Even though the girl struggled in the lower classes, her mum insisted it was because she needed to be in the top classes. Her mum was trying to force her kid to be the top. She even paid for Kip McGrath tutoring (expensive professional tutoring) though this was the most socio-economically disadvantaged school in the city or surrounding areas.
The girl already had all the counselling and tutoring you'd expect but she faked her way out of them.
The girl had missed nearly two whole years of school in year 5 and 6 her mum refused to let her been seen repeating or being in remedial classes.
The delusional thinking and helicoptering of her mum had put impossible pressure on this poor girl. She had driven her daughter to give up on life.
I think my talk with her had settled her a bit and given her some hope. I followed mandatory reporting and was frustrated that the principal only gave solutions tried before but his hands were somewhat tied.
I finished my placement but not my masters of teaching because I ended up getting a call centre job in the Australian public service which tragically has a higher salary and career opportunities than a teacher in state schools. I have no idea what happened to the girl or whether she felt betrayed by my following mandatory reporting.
11. Like a mother bird.
Parent came in every day to feed her 8 year old son his lunch just so he 'wouldn't choke' I had to get the exec involved within a week because it was ridiculous. Apparently it was a new thing that year...
Is this really a thing? I know lots of people who struggle with swallowing pills, but this sounds like an excuse unless this person is also on a liquid-only diet. There's no way he or she is chewing bites of food into bits smaller than a typical pill unless they're eating crumbs one at a time.
10. We have muscles for a reason.
3 year old kid. Mum is totally convinced that if he is allowed to carry his backpack up the stairs to his classroom his spine will be deformed. The backpack weighs about a pound because she won't let him carry his own books. I tried explaining to her that the way muscles get strong is though use and that not letting him use his muscles is much more likely to cause damage. No go. Didn't even bother getting into proprioceptive feedback and the way children use their bodies to regulate their emotions.
Newsflash folks: treating your able-bodied child like they're made of glass will damage them physically, psychologically and socially. Let your damn kid carry his own damn bag.
9. Logical fail.
I had a mother call me because her son made a 96 on a project and she wanted to know why he didn't earn a 100. I told her he did a great job and that's why he made a good grade. She wasn't satisfied and then called out a different student and told me how that kids mom had done the project and made a better grade. So I asked her what grade she wants me to give her son. After she heard that she said "I don't want you to GIVE him a grade". So I respond with "then why did you call?". She absolutely did not expect that retort and said the 96 would be just fine and hung up.
8. Henry got the hint.
Hmmm so many to choose from....admin would probably say this was the worst, but I still think it's the best!
Had a 7th Grade student (Catholic School) who was being bullied constantly by a kid named Henry. Victim's mom wasn't satisfied with the way the principal was handling it, so one day she sneaks over to my classroom, opens the door and yells, "Henry! You touch my kid one more time and I'll cut your damn balls off!" Mom was in big trouble but the bullying stopped.
Had a 4th Grade student one time who was very mediocre—B student, blah personality....her mom's best friend was the mother of a classmate who was a star student in every way, and Mediocre Mom was constantly comparing the two. I'd send home graded work, and it would come back saying that I had made mistakes in my grading and the girl deserved a higher grade.
I finally started photocopying the papers before I sent them home...I knew it was mom changing the answers, not the kid. End-of-the-year Award time arrives which is invitation-only. I did NOT send Miss Mediocre and her family an invitation, and was shocked when they showed up at the event. After the award ceremony, Mediocre Mom approaches the Principal and says that they had received an invitation, and why didn't her child receive an award? Principal calls me over and asks what happened...I insisted that I did not send them an invitation, but the Principal didn't want the child to feel badly now, so asked me to think of an award which would work for the child, and she quickly went and made a certificate for the child. Mom then bad-mouthed me for forgetting that I'd sent the kid an invitation and not having the award ready. What a jerk!
7.. Dictator mom.
I was a middle school English teacher. I had a student who was truly very advanced and a really great kid all around. Her mom asked me to tutor her so she could test out of 9th grade English and go straight to the 10th grade class, which she was definitely capable of.
A few other parents asked, too, so I put together an after-school tutoring group (on my own time, no compensation) and helped them through what they'd need to know.
Well, the first mom came to every session and would sit there correcting me (with incorrect corrections) on everything. I would walk them through analysis of Romeo & Juliet, she'd contradict me. At first I could ignore it but then I told her that the other parents had complained (a lie) and that she had to stop coming. I also subtly told her that if she wanted, she was free to tutor her daughter on her own.
After that she had her daughter bring a digital recorder to the sessions with her, so her daughter could "review them" later. Instead she used the recordings to send me her criticisms of what I'd said. I hope she had an email tracker cuz then she'd have seen that I deleted every email after the first one w/o opening or reading.
The girl did pass the test though, which really was difficult as she had to demonstrate that she had mastered EVERYTHING the curriculum mandated for 9th grade (three out of four of the other kids did, too, without such parental intervention).
She was really embarrassed about how her mom acted. I may or may not have suggested to her to forget to turn on the recorder or that she might consider breaking it.
The mom gave me a plant at the end of it. Gee, thanks. A plant. So useful.
TL;DR - a parent attended every group tutoring session until I lied to her and gave her a reason to stop, then had her daughter record every session and would listen to it and send me some "pointers."
6. Not a kernel of dignity.
Not educator but a classmate's parents transferred him because someone threw a popcorn kernel in his direction. I go to a private school with tuition and they had likely already paid for multiple months
I remember a new kid coming in for his first day at our school and he was paired with basically the biggest ahole bully in the school. I don't know why they did it, I guess because they shared the same schedule. This kid was the most timid tiny little kid and the bully was this tall imposing asshole that got off on f---ing with people. Of course he just messes with the kid the whole day. At gym class we were playing dodge ball with the legit big rubber balls (this was the 90s) and of course bully guy just targets the fuck out of this kid. He absolutely annihilates him with a ball and that's it. Kid can't take anymore. He left early and we never saw him again.
5. Kids belong outside.
My mums a teacher aid said one of the worst cases was that a mother wouldn't allow the kid to go on any excursions of camping trips. Kid doesn't have allergies or special attention and is not poor so no excuse why the kid shouldn't go. Grade 6 comes around and finally able to convince the mother to let the kid go for just one night on a 3 night camp trip (guess it was progress). The kids went rock climbing, fishing, camp fire marshmallows and night trip in the forest. To this day the kid says it was the best day of their life.
4. Sobbing. SOBBING!
As a music student teacher I was asked to select a few kids to do a dance in front of the choir based on how quickly they were catching onto the choreography. Very informal, all they got to do was a few extra dance moves the other kids didn't for one song.
The next day I was informed that one child's mother had called the choreographer (they were friends) sobbing because her daughter wasn't chosen.
This was probably because her daughter had a cast up from her wrist last her elbow. And the dance was the "Hand Jive."
3. What is she, a whale?
I had a fifteen message exchange with a parent last regarding how I will not continuously remind their child to drink water throughout the day. I told them that I have no issue with letting their daughter have water whenever she asked, and the whole class got a water break after recess, and had ample opportunity to drink at snack. But apparently that wasn't good enough and I needed links sent to me about the dangers of dehydration. Suffice it to say, their daughter did not die of dehydration in my class without me pausing my lessons every half hour to ensure she was drinking.
2. Participation trophy parenting.
In NYC, students have to apply to high school the way most kids apply to college. I was asked to fill out a recommendation letter for a student, but it required a writing sample (essay only) from the kid and I didn't have one yet because it was early in the year. The deadline was a month away, so I would get a writing sample during that time. The mom didn't accept this answer no matter how many times I told her. For 2 weeks she harassed me daily through email, phone calls and text. She ended up calling the principal who put me and the kid in his office so he could write an arbitrary essay, and I could write the letter. I missed teaching 2 classes! (They were covered by a sub) Principal philosophically sided with me, but he just wanted her to go away lol.
1. Nope, I'm out.
Had a mom call me on my personal cell phone, which I do not give out, checking to see whether her daughter had homework that day.
It was the first day of school.
She got my number from the principal, who thought it was a great idea. I did not stay a second year.