Helicopter Parents Ordered to Stop Stalking Daughter at College

Hi Readers — I don’t pretend that these parents are anything other than off-the-charts weird. But they do give a glimpse at the furthest reaches of helicopter-dom,  in that they sent their daughter off to college but continued to drop in on her unannounced — despite the 600 miles that should have separated them — even as they monitored her every phone call and email, electronically. It’s as if they were on the trail of a crime, and in a way, they were. She’s guilty of growing up!

In this case, the parents sought to have their seemingly normal, talented daughter declared decadent and mentally ill.  According to Cincinnati.com:

They accused her of using illegal drugs, promiscuity and suffering from mental woes. She insisted none of that was true and asked them to stop, but their accusations escalated. They informed her department head she had mental issues that could force them to go to court to have her treated.

The parents knew about what they saw as their daughter’s problems because, they admit, they installed monitoring software on her laptop and cellphone, allowing them to see her every keystroke and phone number dialed or received. It was “like I was a dog with a collar on,” said the daughter, a dean’s list student every quarter.

The parents became such an issue that the school hired security guards to keep them out of their daughter’s performances. When the parents stopped paying her tuition because she’d cut off all contact with them, the school gave her a full scholarship for her final year.

Some commenters may suggest that as long as a child accepts monetary support from her parents, she still IS their baby, but I disagree. Yes, she should be grateful, but no, she is not her parents’ pet.

In any case, I’m thrilled the college granted the gal her final year’s tuition and I hope that parents everywhere recoil at this near parody of parenting. In fact, I see a major Hollywood movie in the making. – L.

66 Responses to Helicopter Parents Ordered to Stop Stalking Daughter at College

  1. Rich Wilson December 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Great way to guarantee limited, if any, access to your grand kids.

  2. Nancy Sathre-Vogel December 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Egads! That’s really off-the-chart bad parenting. I’m glad the daughter finally found the internal strength to get rid of them!

  3. Claudia December 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Sad and desperate – seems pretty clear to me that these parents were the ones with psychological problems and the poor daughter suffered for them. Good luck to her.

  4. Rachael December 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Sorry, but this is not an example of helicopter parenting. It is an example of dangerously abusive parents losing their marbles as the saw themselves losing control of their daughter. I am no fan (or defender) of helicopter parenting but this is not the same thing.

  5. Heather P. December 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    If her parents were paying her tuition, I think she does have some responsibility to inform them on her academic standing and/or grades. Full stop. That’s what they’re paying for, and if she’s flunking out the bankroller ought to be able to adjust behavior back at the homestead.That’s where it ends, though.

    Every phone call, email, KEYSTROKE?! Way beyond.
    This *is* helicopter parenting taken to the extreme. If someone says, “Well, I can see their point, [unsafe college crazy debauchery]…” back away slowly.

  6. Mell December 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    I agree, not helicopter parenting, more like stalking! What an amazing thing the school did though, giving her free tuition. The parents were the ones with serious mental issues, not the daughter! The only thing paying tuition gives us any possible right to in an of age child’s life is good grades, in my opinion.

  7. Molly Wingate December 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    My heart breaks when parents so thoroughly sabotage their relationships with their teens. To convince themselves that they can do wrong acts (stalk) in the name of right results (know what their daughter is doing) is utter delusion.

  8. missjanenc December 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    If I had parents like this I would probably be using illegal drugs, be promiscuous and have mental health woes. So glad the school stepped in.

  9. Chuck99 December 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    If parents are paying for their child’s college (or whatever) they do have a right to expect certain behavior and enforce some rules. I don’t think there’s any question that this went way beyond that.

    And congratulations to the school for helping her get free of this.

  10. Heather P. December 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    I just figured out the comparison. They’re paying for her tuition, so regular (quarterly?) updates on her grades isn’t too much.
    What they did, though, was akin to paying for her meal plan and expecting daily fecal analyses to see what she’s eating.
    Unhealthy on so many levels.

  11. mollie December 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Go ahead, Lenore, write the screenplay. I dare you. But remember: truth is stranger than fiction.

  12. Elco December 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    The daughter is not even a teenager anymore. She is a 21-year-old woman!

  13. Marion December 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    That’s stalking, pure and simple. If it was her ex-husband, and he was paying spousal support, the police would have arrested him.

  14. Warren December 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    These parents will not comply with the court’s decision, and find themselves in jail. They are beyond helicoptoring, and squarely in the deranged.

  15. Earth.W December 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    That’s criminal. What a way to treat your own child regardless of age. I assume that the young lady has cut off all communication with her barking mad parents.

  16. Sarah December 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Research the quiverful movement. 20 bucks says that the parents were followers. Makes me shiver.

  17. Jade Pomme December 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Thankfully the school took her side. It would have been so much worse had the school sided with the parents. They are crazy, not helicopter-parents.

  18. Seamus [Impetus Engagement] December 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    This is an incredibly interesting description of what typically doesn’t happen.

    Normally, kids who grow up with helicopter parents don’t learn problems solving and other skills that allow them to be independent adults.

    This is odd, how the parents were the ones who became so dependent that they couldn’t be without her.

    What terrifies me even more, is what would have happened if the parents succeeded? Lock her in the basement for her own protection?

    Here I thought I had it rough when I had to spend all my weekends building our family home instead of being out with friends…

    Just goes to show that becoming dependent upon another is dangerous. All successful relationships (parenting, partners, etc) require that both parties be independent of the other. If not, destruction is an alternative.

  19. Emily December 27, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    I was a music major too, and I remember a young woman in my studio at one point, whose parents installed a GPS chip in her cell phone, so they could track her whereabouts while she was away at school. She was eighteen years old, and a first-year undergrad student, and admittedly, she was rather immature–she’d come late (or not at all) to sectional rehearsals and master classes, and at one fateful master class, she not only ate pizza, but also rummaged around for her birth-control pills. Anyway, I can’t help thinking, was she being tracked by GPS because she was immature, or was she immature because of the GPS, and what it represented? After all, if her parents continued to treat her like a child, what incentive did she have to act like a responsible adult?

  20. Emily December 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    P.S., My colleague knew that it took no brains whatsoever to get around the GPS chip–all she had to do was leave her phone at home before leaving for the bar/club at night, thereby depriving herself of an important safety tool, should she get in trouble. Having never met her parents, I don’t know if they ever picked up on that little irony, but I’m guessing not.

  21. Lollipoplover December 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    If my daughter was a dean’s list student every quarter (as this one was), I’d rejoice and celebrate! Seriously, what other information do you need? She’s doing great, leave her alone. This is the problem with helicopter/stalker parenting- they are never prepared to be out of a job.

  22. Jill December 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Without knowing these people, it sounds to me like one of them has Borderline Personality Disorder. My mom is a Borderline, and this behavior sounds kinda similar.

  23. Captain America December 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    I’ve spent time teaching kids this age. Most of the time they want to be treated as full adults. . . and then want to schluff off and be romping kids and irresponsible.

    In THIS instance, the parents were over the top. But at the end of the day, SOMEONE has to care for their kids. Certainly we’d want parents and relatives and friends to care if their loved one/child was having trouble.

  24. Joel December 28, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    Take it from me if your child/ teen doesn’t get autonomy that grows with their age, they will wind up as poorly functioning adults.

  25. Jenn December 28, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    I agree with Rachel this is NOT helicopter parenting this is destructive Narcissistic parenting this is scary stuff.

  26. Donna December 28, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Captain America – Students this age are NOT “kids.” They ARE full adults. As adults, if they want to be irresponsible, they suffer the penalty of being such. If my child still needs parenting on college (not advice or help but actual parenting), I would consider that a failure on my part.

    Parents who are paying for college have a right to expect, from their offspring only not the school, grade reports each semester. They have a right to know how many classes you enroll in and if you drop any. They have a right to set rules as to how their money is spent. For example, they need not pay for an apartment for their daughter to live with her boyfriend if they don’t want to. Otherwise they need to accept that they are giving money to an adult and adults have the freedom to make their own choices. Paying for college is a nice thing to do for your children, but it should not be used as a way to control them for an additional 4 years.

  27. Andy December 28, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    This sounds to me like mental health issue on the side of parents. I’m not a doctor, but their behavior reminds me of paranoia or some kind of inability to distinguish reality from phantasies.

    May escalate unless treated.

  28. Jessika December 28, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    The university seems to have taken the problem rather seriously, initially by banning parents from performances and later by offering free tuition for her last year.

    With the increasing available means of flat out surveillance of children, teenagers and even college students, I’m sure there will be an increasing discussion of where for parents to just stay away in a normal sense and when it crosses the line for some sort of stalking behaviour.

    Leaving home for college and university IS a big step. Even bigger if you haven’t been offered much in terms of independence. I was wildly naive when I left home, I grew up over time. My parents was far from anything helicopterish. Leaving home for whatever reason is about making mistakes, by mistakes one learns. I learned more than plenty when I ended up flunking the better part of my 2nd semester after which I switched my major.
    The parents are certainly delusional. I don’t really want to think about what measures of control they put their daughter through while growing up if this is what it came to once she left. All my best to the daughter for the streghth of moving on and for the school that offered support in an obviously twisted situation.

  29. Jessika December 28, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    @Donna, I’d argue that it’s an oxymoron to initially say that those attending college is adults but then add that as a parent one has the right to know results, grades, what classes are attended and which isn’t. Once an legal adult it’s about adulthood. Parents need to maneuver those waters and build trust. My own experience of flunking a class I shouldn’t have attending to beging with, made it pretty obvious that it was my problem, I dealt with it.
    Should be added that I ive where university education where tuition doesn’t exist.

  30. Donna December 28, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Jessika – I don’t think that it is a oxymoron at all to say that parents – or anyone else – WHO PAYS for college has a right to insist as part of the deal that the student keep them abreast of their academic progress. People who pay for things – especially big ticket things like college that can cost well over $100,000 – generally have an interest in where that money is going. Heck, even many scholarships ask for your grades to show that you are making adequate academic progress before they pay out additional money.

    And I never said anything about WHICH classes were being taken; just whether you are enrolled part time or full time and whether some were dropped or all were completed.

    The fact is that you give up some control if someone else is footing the bills. Everyone does, regardless of age. Buy a car with a loan or a house with a mortage and the loan company has requirements for certain levels of insurance that must be maintained that you would not be required to have if you paid cash.

    I have no problem with parents controlling where their money is spent, including requiring adequate academic progress if paying for college. I do have a problem with parents trying to control their now adult children’s personal lives with purse strings for college. There is a big difference between “I am not paying for college and room and board unless you are enrolled full time” (aka “I’m not paying to support you while you goof off most of the time while only taking one class a semester) and “I won’t pay for college if you have sex with your boyfriend.” One is a business agreement and the other is none of their business.

  31. Katie December 28, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    @Sarah, QF is not a monolithic “movement”. There are people of a variety of theological stances who accept God’s sizing on the family. Some over-shelter, some don’t.

  32. Warren December 28, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I wonder if there is cultural and religious aspects to the parents behaviour?

  33. Jessika December 28, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    @Donna, I haven’t attended US university as undergraduate, I entered and finished an MA however before venturing on to Asia. I also come from a different education structure. At the university I attended in Asia tuition was at the level of rather painful but I considered it worth it. I paid for all of it myself.

    Maybe we are just saying the same thing but in different ways. I DO agree that if you are forking out tuition then it’s in everyone interest that you do attend class rather than party and sleep while attending a tiny class on calligraphy during the baroque era (or something to that point), well then it’s time to discuss focus. If all one does is do party and sleep, perhaps you are just not to attend college but be left to mature until you see the wisdom of education. I’ve wondered if college hasn’t turned out to be, in some cases, a continuation of high school. In hindsight I wish I had gotten some life experience before entereing higher education.

  34. Jessika December 28, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    The above said being kind of OT.

  35. Tara December 28, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Only child?
    If she has siblings, what are they doing to them?

  36. walkamungus December 28, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    What I find amazing, *truly* amazing, about this story is that it says she was offered full scholarships to other schools, but her parents decided to pay for her to attend the University of Cincinnati. A full ride is nothing to sneeze at. Those schools might also have been more than 600 miles (basically a 10- to 12-hour drive) distant — harder to keep her on a leash if you’re not close enough to tug on it.

  37. Amanda Matthews December 28, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    My parents gave me money for Christmas – does that entitle them to know how I’m spending it? I spent it on yarn – should they take it back if I don’t knit all day?

    My in-laws gave me a dryer for Christmas – do I have to keep a log of how many loads I do and how dry they came out so that they can know how their money is being used?

    Paying for college is a GIFT to an ADULT – once you give a gift, it is no longer yours to control. Yes that sucks, but if you don’t like that, don’t give the gift in the first place. If you give it with conditions (WHATEVER those conditions may be – even if an adult is enrolled in college full or part time is none of anyone else’s business) then expect to not be told the truth about how the gift is being used – and to be prevented from figuring out the truth yourself.

  38. Emily December 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    @Walkamungus–I was wondering about that too. I figured that, either her parents wanted her to go to the University of Cincinnati because it was THEIR alma mater, or the young woman and her parents mutually decided that she’d go there, because the music programs at the schools that she’d been offered full scholarships to, might not have been as good (or, perceived to be as good) as the one at the University of Cincinnati. So, in her mind, it might have been a choice between taking a full ride scholarship, and “emancipating” the moment she stepped on campus, but then having to boomerang back home if she couldn’t find work after four years, or getting a music degree from a “better” school, and having a better chance of there being a job available for her at the end.

    Unfortunately, there’s a lot of discrepancy between quality (or perceived quality) of university music programs, and it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy–if a lot of people think that the music program at Blahblah University isn’t as good as Whatsit University, then fewer people choose to enroll in music at Blahblah University, which makes it impossible to organize a large orchestra or choir there, which Whatsit University has, because it’s the “popular” place. Then, with the higher enrollment at Whatsit, they then have more money to buy more STUFF to lure people in, like Steinway grand pianos, percussion instruments, renovations on the building, and better-known classical musicians to teach private lessons. It doesn’t necessarily mean Whatsit University is better than Blahblah University, because Joe Schmoe may be better at TEACHING violin to the undergrad set, than Itzahk Perlmann is, but “Studied violin with Itzahk Perlmann” looks really good on a resume, so a violinist with a degree from Whatsit University would have that edge over one who’d just graduated from Blahblah University. So, maybe this young woman was thinking long-term in this manner.

    Either way, I think it’s awesome that her school paid her tuition for her final year, so she could finish her studies in peace, without being stalked by her parents, and I’m sure she’ll go far. :)

  39. Sarah December 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Katie, I have no issue with large families, and accepting children as blessings. I was raised catholic and have 4 children myself. I was talking specifically about the aspect of the QF movement that leads parents to control the lives of their adult offspring. The fact that this girl was offered scholarships but her parents struck that down in favor of paying for college (I am guessing to a closer school) strikes me as controlling. And they are acusing her of promiscuity and mental health problems when she is a seamingly successful student on the deans list? Come on.

  40. Emily December 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    @Sarah: Yes, this, exactly. I found an article here about the pitfalls of the Quiverfull philosphy, when it’s used to control older teens/young adults. Not surprisingly, it’s about the Duggar family, specifically Jinger Duggar:

    http://www.crushable.com/2012/08/28/entertainment/the-duggars-jinger-duggar-escape-rebel-19-kids-and-counting-504/

    Anyway, I hope Jinger does move to the city, if that’s what she wants, and I hope she gets her name legally changed to Ginger with a G. I mean, it’s bad enough to give all 19 kids (20, counting Jubilee Shalom, who didn’t make it), names that start with J, but purposely misspelling a perfectly good name is just stupid. By the time they got to Jinger, there were plenty of other perfectly good J-names available.

  41. Donna December 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Amanda – There is a difference between giving someone money as a gift and agreeing to pay for something on behalf of your child. If I choose to give my child $100,000, I have no say in what she does with that $100,000 dollars. I can hope that she uses it to go to college, but I gifted her the money so there is nothing I can do about it if she doesn’t. If I agree to pay for college, then I have a right to get what I agreed to – a college education for my child, not a 4 year long vacation.

    I think the same about any financial situation with any adult. If I agree to pay the downpayment for a house for my mother, I think that I should be able to expect that money to be actually used to be a downpayment on a house, not a vacation to Fiji. If I give my mother $25,000 hoping that she uses it to buy a house, I can do nothing if she chooses to go to Fiji. (My mother owns a house and has no plans to go to Fiji).

    But if a once a semester “hey mom, I registered for classes and am taking a full load next semester” and an “I passed all my classes” is too much for my child and she needs even more autonomy, I am more than happy to allow her to pay for her college education herself. I certainly hope to have (a) a much better relationship with my child than that, and (b) a more respectful child who actually appreciates that my agreeing to pay for college is not something she is entitled to.

  42. Jenny Islander December 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    @Sarah, yes, I am pretty sure that she has been controlled in one way or another for her entire life and that her attendance at this school of music at her parents’ expense was part of the ongoing attempt to keep her enmeshed–however they phrased it in order to get her to comply. But somewhere along the way she got a good look at normal life. I wonder what normal part of being an independent adult prompted them to start spying. Did she stop calling as often? Did she not hop to immediately and drop everything in order to talk to them when they called her? Did she mention a friend they had not personally met and preapproved? Did she neglect to weep tears of joy when they dropped in unannounced?

    I’m sure that they escalated to telling people she was mentally ill because she simply would not play along with their irrationality anymore.

  43. Lollipoplover December 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Calling her mentally ill reminds me of the movie, “What About Bob?” with Bill Murray. These parents are like Bob in that they think their stalking behavior and disregard for personal boundaries is somehow “normal” even though it’s driving their own daughter crazy.

  44. Amanda Matthews December 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    @Donna I totally disagree. You have no right to anything when giving a gift – and that includes “agreeing to pay for college.” Just as my in-laws agreed to pay for a dryer – if I were to choose to return the dryer and use the money for something else, my in-laws would have no right to say anything about it. And they shouldn’t. I am an adult.

    Just as your daughter is respectful and accepts that she is not entitled to you paying for college, parents should learn to be respectful and accept that they are not entitled to updates nor any say in their adult child’s life. It’s NICE if your offspring gives you that – but you have no RIGHT to it, no matter what you’re paying for.

  45. ZombieApocalypseKitten December 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    That’s not helicopter parenting. That’s black-helicopter parenting.

  46. Chihiro December 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I once met an older girl whose parents were so batty she wasn’t allowed to have friends. She literally had no friends (since her parents considered every other kid a bad influence) until high school, and when she brought up her craving for human contact, her parents put her in a mental hospital. She’d graduate a program, and her parents would put her right back in another.
    The part about this girl’s parents trying to get her declared mentally ill reminded me of her.
    Also, Lenore, I don’t know if you know about this little site called Reddit. It’s a site for basically anything, but today I saw this and thought of you. And then I saw this post and thought it would fit PERFECTLY!
    http://www.reddit.com/r/nottheonion/comments/15kog5/aubrey_ireland_college_student_wins_restraining/c7ncbk9

  47. Donna December 29, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    Amanda – I disagree completely. If I agree to pay for college, I agree to pay for college, not just support my child for 4 additional years of her doing whatever she sees fit – something a parent can certainly agree to do, but also something that my child has as much chance of me ever agreeing to as she does of waking up tomorrow morning as a gorilla. Zero. Nada. Nilch. Zip.

    I view this arrangement more as a contract than a gift. I agree to pay. My child agrees to go to college. I do have a right to see that the other end of the bargain is being upheld before I uphold mine. Just as I do in any contract with an other adult on the planet. I’m not sure why you insist on treating your child differently than you would any other “business” relationship with any other adult. In other words, I’m never going to enter into a financial arrangement with anyone in which I give them money for 4 years for a particular outcome and I get absolutely no assurances whatsoever that the other party is upholding their end of the bargain over the course of that time. One in which I just hope that after spending over $100,000 spread out over 4 years that there will be some positive result at the end. If that is how you handle your finances, can I borrow $100,000 for life saving medical treatment? I don’t have an illness, but that is apparently irrelevant to you.

  48. Peter December 29, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    These are not plain old helicopter parents, they are Apache Attack helicopter parents.

  49. Liz December 29, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I have a friend who is 19 and still a junior in high school. He lives in his own house and even has a tenant . However, the school calls his parents when he does not show up at school (which is frequent) or leaves early (which is always). His parents in turn call me because I am close with their son and “fairly reliable.” Their adult son is quite frankly not their problem and certaintly not my responsibility. He is his own person. As a 19 year old housing himself without any financial aid from them I find it absurd that he has to answer to his parents. I’m also not entirely sure why he doesn’t drop out– because hey he’s financially independent and there is almost no chance if him graduating.

  50. Emily December 29, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Sarah and Donna–Surely you can both agree that there’s a “happy medium” between parents handing over the money for university tuition, and just HOPING it’ll be spent that way, and parents monitoring their adult child’s every move while he or she is away at university.

  51. Amanda December 29, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Honestly, if you are paying that much money for your child to go to school yet do not trust them to be mature and use it for their education then it simply points to bad parenting. I agree that you should never feel entitled to knowing your child’s every move in college. However, how well you raised them will most definitely come out during this time. My parents never paid for my education yet I still felt like we had a good enough relationship where when I came home I could tell them about my classes and share my grades. But my parents gave me space and responsibility, they showed they trusted me.
    To view your own child as a business deal is sad I think personally. You should trust them to do what’s right and want to help them or else don’t pay. Simple as that. If you have a good relationship, the information will come out on it’s own and mean so much more than the child feeling forced to reveal this out of fear of being too in debt in today’s economy. It’s not a genuine relationship with your child. It would mean so much more to me that my child is CHOOSING to share with me. Then I know I did well by them.
    My roommate freshman year was home-schooled and pretty much never out of her parents’ sight. So college was freedom for her and she went crazy. She stayed out all night and skipped classes. Her parents called the dorm all the time looking for her and actually YELLED at me when I didn’t know where she was. That just shows that their direct decisions in parenting resulted in her eventually being kicked out of school and too immature.

  52. Library Diva December 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    I thought of this site immediately when I read this story. I feel sorry for this young woman. I even feel sorry for her parents. The story I read first was different and was written by a journalist for the young woman’s hometown paper. It quoted her parents and in their quote, they sounded absolutely baffled by this turn of events. They said they were just trying to help her and to be loving, caring parents.

    @Amanda, I had similar experiences in college. My first-semester roommate and best friend throughout school grew up in a rural town with parents who were rather strict and very unwilling to take her places and allowher to have many social experiences. She hated it so much that she enrolled in a special program that would allow her to do her senior year of high school and her freshman year of college basically at the same time (it’s easy in NYS; at the time, seniors had only four required classes: English, economics, government, and phys ed). Surrounded by parties every night, regular free live music and films, and endless places to hang out from other people’s dorm rooms to cut-rate pool halls, where do you imagine studying fell on her list? She failed out too after her first semester.

  53. Insomnia333 December 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    So Amanda, let’s run a scenario by you then. You agree to pay for your child’s college education. They go to school their first year and completely bomb out. They party to much don’t take things seriously and fail. Do you pay for a second year? Based on the arguments you’ve been making you should. Even if it takes them 10 years to graduate do you keep paying? After all you said you’d pay for their education, but don’t think you should have any say in their performance.

    See, you’re arguing against Donna and her reasonable expectations for paying for her kids education, by assuming your child will do the right thing so you won’t need to worry about asking for grades to make sure your investment in them is paying off.

    But here is the worst case scenario, so what do you do? If you stop paying for their education then you’ve proven Donna’s point that your “gift” does have conditions attached. Or you continue paying, in which case you’re and idiot :).

  54. Amanda December 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    First off Insomnia333, you are so quick to call me an idiot yet you obviously lack reading comprehension skills. I said that I would NEVER pay for my child’s education if I didn’t trust them. And if you are unaware that your child is prone to partying, then it does prove my point that it’s bad parenting (note here, I am not calling a parent bad because a child chooses to party, I am only saying they are bad if they claim they didn’t know). Kids start extremely early with the drinking and drugs. My argument is simply to know your child and trust them. Why pay for a kid you don’t trust? Again, my parents never paid but have openly admitted to the fact that they would have helped me if they could but not my brother (because he didn’t take high school seriously and preferred parties). Did my brother like that? Hell no. But my parents point was proven when I graduated my college practically top of the class and my brother failed out and couldn’t afford school anymore. He has since gotten his life together and matured tremendously and is finally looking to try to go back and earn a degree and my parents are in a position to help so they probably will (He also now admits that what my parents said was true and right). Not everybody is mature to handle college right out of high school and simply having a mature conversation with your child will tell you if they are ready (Do you know they party? Do they have any clear picture of what they want to do?) I know this is a long shot for some parents out there, but talk to your child. Start the conversations early. I honestly wouldn’t pay for my child to go if they didn’t even know what they want to do. I may assist them with a community college to help them find their interest but hell no am I helping when the maturity isn’t there. And again, my argument was that you should have developed a good relationship with your child ahead of college so that when you let them go and move on and start out on their own that they are still willing to share with you (NOT by force). I tell my husband all the time that my goal is to raise mature functioning adults who willingly want to come to me once they leave. I have friends that their parents paid for college and they had to “report” and they resented their parents for that. They will openly tell you that it wasn’t genuine. My friends were jealous that I had no such “strings” (I kindly reminded them that I was also receiving no help) but that my parents were so “cool” that I still shared with them.
    On the occasion that I mistrust my child and they do not do well in school, then I would again have a conversation with them. Maybe school is wrong at this time for them? I would want to see where they stand on the topic but again, I will reiterate, if you did well parenting then you do know whether you can trust your child or not. Good parents know. Sometimes it sucks to admit that your child isn’t ready (we had long family talks with my sister before she went off) but a good strong family will make the right decision together and not force the child into mandatory updates. Trust me, your child knows you don’t trust them then. My argument is simply with the fact that people feel they can force stipulations upon their child and expect a healthy relationship. And as far as the argument about loans goes, last I checked (even with our current economy) you still have to prove to a bank that you are, in fact, trustworthy. But I also have a car loan that all I have to do is pay the bill each month, I don’t report to them where I’ve been with said car. How I treat the car is up to me. If I screw up and don’t take care of it then it’s still my fault. The bank doesn’t keep giving me money till I get it right. If a child screws up, you can do something about it in a mature way not just threaten to stop paying. Talk to your child. My sister failed biology, and her grades were crappy one semester, by a lot of people’s arguments you would stop paying. My parents sat down with her and talked to her. A few personal issues came out and were addressed and she went back and was fine the rest of the time.

  55. Amanda Matthews December 30, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    @Donna okay if you consider it a business agreement, then set it up as a business agreement rather than a gift. Have them sign a contract saying they will sign up for however many classes and keep you updated on their grades and that if they don’t uphold their side of the bargain the loan will be revoked.

    “I’m not sure why you insist on treating your child differently than you would any other “business” relationship with any other adult.”

    Uh, because they are my children and I love them? I treat my family differently than I do my business associates, customers, etc. I don’t love the guy that works at the bank that gave me the loan for my car. I don’t really care how he feels, I don’t care if he will go hungry if I don’t make a car payment – I pay because I want to keep my car. I knit mittens for my kids because I want their hands to be warm – I sell mittens to other people because I want their money. I don’t do business deals with family, because emotions will enter into it either on their side or mine.

    If I were to pay for my children to go to college, it would be because I love them and want them to have the career and/or life they want, and if they feel that means they must go to college, then I want to help them with that (gift) – not because I will get some sort of return in investment (business agreement).

    I will not give you any money. 1 because I don’t have it; 2 because I don’t know you and do not care to give you a gift. If you want to set up a business loan, then sure tell me what is in it for me and if you are asking for an amount I actually have I may consider it. But it will be a business deal, not a gift and therefore there will be a contract involved. And we will always have quite a different relationship than what I have with my kids.

    And I truly hope my relationship with my children NEVER gets to the point where I am treating them like I would any other adult I make a business deal with.

    @Insomnia333 I think you are confusing Amandas.

  56. Corinne Burger December 30, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    My brother was interviewing a college student for a job (which was also part of a work-experience program). The student’s mother not only brought him to the office, but pushed her way into the interview and refused to leave.

    The pair of them were, of course, promptly shown the door.

    But it was definitely a weird experience. Does she also write exams for him?

  57. Emily December 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    I think the Amandas have brought up another good point here–sometimes, failing a class does not necessarily equal slacking off. I actually failed two classes in my undergraduate degree in music–first, a music literature class that was taught by a professor who spoke too fast, and wasn’t good at explaining things, and second, an advanced musical theory class that was compulsory, but REALLY difficult. I had a tutor, I spent hours on the assignments both with and without said tutor, I went to the study sessions that us students would organize on our own in the run-up to the midterm and the final (which, by the way, was a six-hour exam, AND I had another exam later that evening), and I still failed. Also, that year (second year) I was taking too many classes, and participating in too many extra-curricular activities, and I was overwhelmed.

    Anyway, by that logic, my parents should have stopped paying my tuition, right? Well, no, they didn’t. First semester of second year, after I failed the music literature course, I explained what had gone wrong, and I told them of my plan to enroll in a different music literature class the following semester, and went through with it, and passed. Second semester of second year, after I failed Theory IV, I told my parents that I was going to take it again in third year, and I did so–along with a few other people, who’d also failed it the first time around. On the second try, I passed, AND I learned a valuable lesson (helped along by my clarinet teacher) about not trying to take too many classes, or do too many activities. So, third year, I cut back on extra-curriculars. I dropped out of student government, Big Buddies, and scaled back my involvement in the campus’ feminist group, but continued singing in choir, and also, for third and fourth year, I made a point of taking some classes that weren’t music, some because I had to, and some because I just needed something that wasn’t music on my schedule to preserve my sanity. That’s how I learned to speak German, and to paint. Anyway, I’m glad I found balance before third year, because that was the year we began doing solo recitals, but more than that, I’m glad my parents gave me the chance to learn from my mistakes, instead of just pulling the plug the moment I made one.

  58. Donna December 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    @ Amanda and Emily – I never said I expected to know my child’s every move. THIS conversation started when I said that the only information that parents should feel entitled to have if they are paying for college is information about grades and class enrollment.

    I also said that I expect that I would have a good enough relationship for my child to willingly tell me her grades and discuss her successes and failures with me. You have done something seriously wrong as a parent if you don’t. I simply believe that a paying parent has a right to expect such information. That asking such questions and weighing in on such things is not prying, controlling or helicopter if they are paying for the education at issue. Nobody ever said anything about FORCE and you are just being obtuse.

    And Amanda – Setting up that type of agreement is what everyone I knew in college who had tuition paid by their parents only not in writing. It was well understood that you took a full load unless it was discussed with parents first (so they knew not to give you the full amount for tuition). It was understood that you were expected to be actually trying to achieve a degree and that parents were interested in information concerning your grades and progress. It was understood that the money flow would stop if you weren’t enrolled in school. Nobody I knew would have dreamed of telling their parents who were paying for college that their grades were none of their business or thought it was prying if asked about them. This was not the unusual arrangement that you seem to think it is.

    Yes parents pay for their child’s education because they live them and want a good future for them. But they PAY FOR AN EDUCATION not give money as a gift that can be done with whatever the recipient wants. The getting of the education must be the working toward goal to receive the gift.

  59. Donna December 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Emily – Where exactly did anyone say that the second you failed a class, the money was pulled? I haven’t read that in any comment that stated that. What we’ve said is that you must be working towards a degree. We all probably knew people in college who were bright and failed classes due to one reason or another that they corrected and moved on. We also all probably knew people who viewed college as one long party on their parent’s dime; who rarely showed up for class; who put little effort into studying but much effort into beer. Which group do you think we are talking about pulling the financial plug on?

    Mostly this entire conversation is idiotic. To turn a comment that parents have a right to inquire into grades and such if they are paying for school into I never talk to my child and am going to be FORCING information (at gunpoint maybe since I’m not sure how else I would do it) and would pull the plug the second a class was failed is moronic.

  60. Emily December 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    @Donna–I wasn’t accusing anyone in particular of saying that “good grades = good kid = continue funding tuition,” whereas “bad grades = bad kid = pull the plug”; I just mentioned the “grey area” pre-emptively, in case the discussion went down that road. Anyway, for a short period of time (second year) my mom did make the money (no time for a job; I was swamped with classes, rehearsals, meetings, etc.), contingent on a weekly written report telling her how many times I’d been to the gym, and how much weight I’d lost that week, if applicable. I’d e-mail my mom on Friday or Saturday to tell her, because Saturday was the day she went to the bank. However, there was a good reason for this–I was morbidly obese for many years growing up, and this was a continuation of the “lifestyle change” we’d instituted the summer between my first and second year of university. I followed along, but I was more diligent about the “exercising” part than the “weighing myself” part, but either way, it worked. Before long, I was going to the gym and eating (mostly) healthy because *I* wanted to. By the end of that year, we did away with the “weekly report” system. I still exercised and ate healthy food most of the time, but I was trusted to do it on my own, because I’d earned that trust.

  61. Donna December 31, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    @ Emily – The thing I think some people who are on this website miss is that adults can agree to pretty much anything they want, regardless of what everyone else thinks about the agreement. You and your mother made an agreement that helped you do something you wanted to do – lose weight. There is nothing wrong with that even if from the outside it seems odd. That is very different than using money to manipulate adult children in order to keep control over them.

  62. Emily December 31, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Actually, Donna, it wasn’t so much an agreement, as it was an “agreement” that I went along with, because I valued my education, but had no way to pay for it myself. Music is one of those majors that requires a lot of time outside of regular classes, and I was doing multiple extra-curricular activities on top of that, so I would have had to essentially make $30,000 over the summer, which wasn’t happening. No, my mom wanted ME to lose weight, so she tied it to my financial support for university. It worked out for the best, but it was her idea, not mine.

  63. JP January 1, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    Sounds to me like those two parents should work for the CIA…..excellent spies, lousy parents.
    Big thumbs up for the support she got from her school (which sounds like she earned.)
    Some people just don’t wanna let go – but senior year?
    College was usually always the big savior of micro-managed kids anyhow.
    Sometimes I think we’ve collectively blossomed into some sci-fi freakshow society where control freaks have suddenly exploded into the limelight, riding into town like dimestore cowboy heroes, to “save” progeny from….what, exactly? The future? A lousy economy? A disturbed world? Adulthood? Themselves?

    I recall the prep school tragedy featured so poetically in the movie, “Dead Poets Society.”
    That kid – WAS the dead poet. Absolutely.
    (and mom, and especially pop – were so grief-stricken to discover his own personal passions were beyond measurable discipline…in particular – theirs.)
    It’s a real lousy way to discover that indeed, father does not actually know best.

    But this pair of parents – what would they have done in the days of old-school technology? When they couldn’t monitor phone calls and keystrokes. They would have had to let it go, wouldn’t they?
    Instead of becoming the flukies and lackies to the great techno-god that they gave into, worshipping at the shrine of techno keyhole-peep, and pretending that they’re just good caring folks. Just because the tools of ignorance are there to use, does not make one a better, or more moral person.

    When my son started high school at age 13, it was a given that no spying would occur inside or outside the home, and that any real problems of any significance would be discussed. (Um, I always thought that was what trust was all about.)

    And the bit about the dog collar? Best line I’ve read in awhile. My favorite dawg would be outraged. He takes his freedom seriously – with teeth.

  64. Kelly January 2, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    I suppose I’m in the boat of: “If your parents pay for college then you should have the decency to work hard to spend that money wisely.” I don’t see how that allows them to own the kid in any way.

  65. Sarah January 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Emily, my post was more about christian fundimentalism (QF movement is part of that). I didn’t say anything about paying for colledge or not paying for colledge. Surley if parents are paying for it they have a right to demand grades and certain behavior, but that doesn’t seem to have anyting to do with this story. The girl was on the deans list, and I am guessing it’s hard to do that if your whoring around, as her parents are accusing her of. Read the column, her parents refused scholarships in order to pay for the college themselves. Although that sounds like a sweet move I am guessing it was probably done with this intent of holding the college experience above her head, so that they could pull the plug and anypoint she started straying from the flock.

  66. Nancy January 5, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    That isn’t helicopter parenting. That’s abusive parenting.