“What Was Your Worst Experience as the Child of Helicopter Parents?”


Riveting thread riarktazze
on Reddit
: “Children of Helicopter Parents: What was the worst or most embarrassing thing they put you through?” Particularly interesting is the idea that the parents described below are simply “overprotective.” They sound much more seriously ill than that. We live in a society that almost INSISTS we overprotect our kids, on pain of blame, shame and/or arrest. But the Reddit parents are not simply driving kids to playdates. They area obsessive in their fears and protections. So I’m not sure this thread makes any point other than that it is difficult to be the child of mentally ill parents. (And that we love to revile helicopter parents.)

When I went away to college, my parents would call me every day. I went away to a fraternity weekend retreat during my freshman year where us pledges weren’t supposed to bring our phones. I told my parents that I’m going away 3 days and not to call me.

On the day we were coming back, the guy driving us got a call. He then hands me his phone and tells me to call my parents.

It turns out, that when my parent couldn’t reach me for 3 days, they came to my college, and went around my dorm and half the campus asking everyone if they’ve seen their lost little boy. I was 18 at the time.

On top of that, since I was on their family cell phone plan, they looked up all the numbers I had recently called and texted. They proceeded to call everyone letting them know I’m “lost” and asking if they knew where I was. This included girls that I had crushes on but barely knew, random classmates, and mild acquaintances.

When I got back to my worried parents waiting for me at my dorm, I found my cell phone with a bunch of messages of people asking if I’m okay and letting me know my parents are looking for me.

For the next day, every 1 in 5 people I walked passed would ask me if I talked to my parents because they were looking for me.

*  *  *

My grandmother once did something similar to my dad. Except he wasn’t at a frat retreat, he was on a training exercise in the Air Force. When she couldn’t get ahold of him, she called the base commander’s office, then Washington DC. He got some crazy work detail (cleaning gum off the dumpster iirc) as punishment for his mom being nuts.

*  *  *

My cousin had an interesting freshman year experience. She was roomed with another girl with a helicopter mother… the mother slept in this tiny dorm room with the daughter and my cousin for several weeks until she could convince the RA to kick the mother out.

One more:

I didn’t go to any school dance. Or sports event. So yeah, no prom, nothing. I was not allowed to go to the mall by myself when I was 19 years old, my dad would follow me around. Like he’d walk about 5 feet behind me. When I was 20 I said I was going to get a cell phone and got into a big fight with my parents because they didn’t want me to have one. I had been working since 15 and was going to pay for it myself, etc. Couldn’t lock the door to my bedroom (or the bathroom), even in my early 20’s. Moving out was the best thing ever. I remember when I was 12 or so, my mom, little sister (7 at the time) and I went to Costco to do some shopping. My dad showed up dressed as a clown (he used to dress up for birthday parties), followed me and my little sister around honking his clown horn in our ears, yelling to all the guys that he was our dad.

He still shows up at my work and tells my coworker to tell me that my “daddy” is here to see me. I’m 31. I think the last time I called him “daddy” was when I was…7? 8? NOBODY calls him “daddy”.

Read many more here…if you can stand it. But remember: There’s a difference between protective (which we all are, some more than others) and ill. And to pretend that all helicopter parents are crazy is to ignore the fact that society HOUNDS us to be more extravagantly protective than our own parents were. Sometimes it even arrests those who are not. So it is society’s norms we must fight, not nervous parents. – L.


There's a difference between helicopter parents and the mentally ill.

There’s a difference between helicopter parents and the mentally ill.


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57 Responses to “What Was Your Worst Experience as the Child of Helicopter Parents?”

  1. Emily October 28, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    I don’t think I can pick any one experience that was the worst–seeing other kids roaming the neighbourhood or going to the mall without adults when I couldn’t (elementary school), being given an allowance, but reprimanded for saving up for major purchases, the freakout over a B in grade five math (only A’s were acceptable), the battle over prom even though I was a good kid (high school–I won, but decided not to go); none of those things was the worst thing by itself. The worst thing was my parents’ “It’s for your own good” attitude, and the feeling that I couldn’t be trusted, and being teased by the other kids about being overprotected, which made me feel that I wasn’t as good as my peers. I know most of the things I mentioned seemed minor, but it meant I couldn’t easily buy surprise gifts for my parents for Christmas and other occasions, because I couldn’t shop unsupervised, I couldn’t go for a walk or a bike ride with no destination in mind, all friends had to be approved by my parents, and basically, I felt like I couldn’t be my own person. It got better when I got to high school and joined multiple extra-curricular activities, but it was a gradual shift (for example, at first, I was allowed free range after school, but not on weekends), and it still couldn’t undo the damage from all the preceding years of hovering.

  2. DrTorch October 28, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    Wow, those stories are shocking. Are they really true?

    I know the rules in my college were explicit that a parent couldn’t stay in a dorm like that. If true, the girl did not protest enough, and she should have had her own parents get involved.

  3. Tim October 28, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    I would not call those examples “helicopter parenting” as much as pathological behavior. It doesn’t sound like there was any “parenting” involved. But I understand Lenore’s comment at the end. There are forces in society (from peer pressure to legal) that push us uncomfortably in that direction.

  4. Ann in LA October 28, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    A couple of years ago, we had a 9 year old over for a sleepover. His mom was seriously worried about him walking on the stairs in socks.

  5. Edward Hafner October 28, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    Just skimmed over the more than 5,000 entries on this reddit and, don’t know about the rest of you but – WOW!
    What a tremendous resource for FRK everywhere.
    Congratulations to all participants and thanks. Always wondered why stories like these never showed up here.
    Do ‘coptered kids have Free Range Kids blocked in their homes and schools?

  6. lollipoplover October 28, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Most of these cases are stalking-parents stalking their adult children in the name of *parenting*. Stalking is a controlling behavior and last time I checked, is illegal. But adult children who are still financially dependent on their parents often put up with it because the parents pay the cell phone bill and the college tuition. But treating someone like they are in imminent danger for not being in contact with you for 3 days is bat sh*t crazy.

  7. A reader October 28, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    My parents are normal. I am in my late 20s, so didn’t have a Free Range childhood like my parents did, but I don’t think I was smothered or helicoptered either. A lot of my friends had helicopter parents, though. When I was about 12, I decided I wanted to learn how to cook (my mother is an atrocious cook). So mom calls up a friend from our synagogue who is known for her fabulous cooking and asked her if I could come over for lessons. She lived pretty close, but when I left, it was raining, so I decided to take the bus home rather than walk. I walked out, and crossed the street to the bus stop. The woman, whose daughter was a few years younger than me, came running out after me, freaking out that I was going home by myself. She thought my mom was going to pick me up (she though mom had dropped me off). She was going nuts, shaking her head, 12 is too young for the bus, never gonna let my daughter, etc etc. She called my mom to make sure I got home ok, and told her off for letting me take the bus alone. My mom found it rather amusing.

    Probably the most egregious incident I came across was about 2 weeks after I got married. My husband gets a call from this woman who starts grilling him about the apartment he had just vacated and the two roommates who still lived there. Turns out, she’s the mother of a young man who is considering taking my husband’s place as the third roommate and she is investigating. The young man in question was 21 at the time. We found out he did, in fact, take the spot, and his mother made weekly visits to check up on him and clean the place up (the other 2 guys of course found it hilarious, but certainly didn’t object to essentially having a free cleaning lady). We’re married nearly 8 years and still tell this story to people because it’s so hilarious.

  8. John October 28, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    The 1960s was the decade I grew up in (from age 4 to 14). During that time my parents would have been considered helicopter parents. BUT according to today’s standards, their parental style would be considered free range. That is how ridiculous we have become with kids folks! For example, when I was in the 4th grade and I had a sore throat and/or sick tummy in the morning and didn’t want to go to school, my father still made me bundle up and walk 3/4 mile to school in freezing weather. OMG, nowadays the school and CPS would be investigating him for child abuse for making his sick child walk almost a mile to school in cold weather! BUT the realty is, after I got to school and into the days activities, I was fine and refreshed. I just needed a little prodding.

    My dad was also an avid golfer and when I was 8-years-old I used to caddy for him on Saturdays and Sundays. Well his bag was heavy for me to pull and I’d be huffing and puffing in the hot weather and my legs would burn trying to pull that bag up the big hill on the first fairway. But my dad would still yell at me for loafing and explain that a trait of a good caddy was to keep up with the golfer he’s caddying for! OMG, CPS today would be investigating him for child abuse. After all, I was just a child and pulling a heavy golf bag up a hill would be more than my tender little body could take. BUT the realty is, toward the end of summer, that big hill became nothing for me and by the time school started in 1965, I probably had the strongest legs in my 4th grade class as was evident on the playground!

    On the other hand, my father had a phobia of water and would NOT allow me to go to the beach with my friends and their parents. A swimming pool was fine, but not a lake! That was always the source of embarrassment for me when I was a kid especially considering I was a really good swimmer from taking swimming lessons AT THE POOL.

    When I was in high school and was at a late party over at a friends house, my parents would always call my friend’s parents asking if I was still there and OK. That was always very embarrassing for me and I’d always get teased about it but looking back, my parents never made me come home, they just wanted to know if I was still there and OK.

  9. Anny October 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    If you read through the Reddit thread, a lot of the stories are about abusive parents, well beyond “overprotective”.

  10. James Pollock October 28, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    About a decade ago, my daughter came home from her mother’s with a sore arm. Next morning, it was still sore, so I made a doctor’s appointment for after school and sent her off to school. The doctor didn’t think it was serious, because my daughter wasn’t acting like it hurt, but sent us for x-rays “just in case”. Well, on x-ray, the break was really obvious. So now it’s near the end of the day, and we’re rushing off across town to the fracture clinic to have it set and casted, getting there right before they stop taking in new patients. The tech set her arm in a cast.

    Now, here’s the amazing part. The hospital didn’t report me for bringing in a child with a broken arm, and the school didn’t turn me in for sending a child with a broken arm to school, either. I didn’t even turn in my ex-wife for failing to supervise properly.

  11. LGB October 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    My favorite post came from the 21-year-old combat veteran who came home to a mommy and daddy who wanted him home by midnight. Apparently there are more snipers and landmines in suburban American than in war-torn Iraq.

  12. Sukiemom October 28, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    When I read all the stories about the parent restrictions on dating, couldn’t help but think of a friend I had in high school who was Hispanic. Her parents were wacko when she got a boyfriend (Rob) and did everything they could to stop the relationship. They thought Rob was a narcissistic jerk, while all of her friends (me included) thought Rob was a hunk.

    My friend goes on to marry Rob and have kids with him. She finds out 10 years into the marriage that he is not only a flagrant cheater at that time, he had been cheating on her even when they were in high school. Her parents were right all along.

  13. bmommyx2 October 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    I’m lucky I didn’t have helicopter parents. My sis did have a helicopter boyfriend.

  14. John October 28, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    Reading thru that Reddit thread, I broke out laughing at the poor guy whose father followed he and his sister all over the Costco store with a clown outfit on, honking his clown horn in their ears and telling everybody he was the kids’ daddy. Sounds like a Jerry Lewis movie to me! I mean, that poor boy and his sister. That certainly had to be humiliating for the both of them and I’m sure their friends NEVER let them hear the end of it….LOL!

    The father of those kids, no doubt, loves his kids to death. When that tragic day finally comes years and years from now when the father passes on from this life, those kids will probably look back on that memory of their dad with a little chuckle even though they certainly didn’t think it was funny at the time!

  15. The Other Mandy October 28, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    When I was a kid, my parents were pretty ok– middle of the road as far as “overprotective” went. However, as I got older, they become more controlling. I had what I called “the incredible shrinking curfew” and I would ask them when my curfew would end up being earlier than my younger sister’s. They would just roll their eyes. The first summer home from college, my curfew was earlier than it had been when I was in high school. So I just lied until I could move out for good.

    Also in college, my parents insisted I keep track of my spending to the penny to justify the allowance they gave me. They insisted it would teach me budgeting, and couldn’t understand why I preferred to work for my own money rather than take their allowance.

    I got married right out of college, because I couldn’t afford to live on my own (dumb move, should have just shacked up, but I was afraid of my parents’ reactions). They never gave my sister or brother such a hard time, and they let up after I was married, so we have an ok relationship now.

  16. EricS October 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    Paranoia should be considered a mental illness. Legitimately. As in, a psychologist or psychiatrist can admit you, if they feel you are overly paranoid, like these parents in Reddit. That is some of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Ever. Again, it boils down to NOT so much about the kids, but the what the parents feel. They will sacrifice the mental and emotional well being of their kids, just so they can feel better/not be so afraid. Which is completely counter productive of what and why parents should be raising their children to be successful adults.

  17. Patti W. October 28, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    I had an interesting conversation with the grandparent of one of my middle school students this week. He mentioned that there’s a lot more pressure on adults to keep up with what kids are doing. In “his” day, students were responsible for knowing what their assignments were, completing them, turning them in, and accepting the grade for them. Now, the school hounds adults to check the online gradebook so that they, in turn, can hound students who aren’t doing their work on time. If a student gets a bad grade, parents are encouraged by their friends to advocate for their child rather than forcing the child to do the advocating. Students are then given many chances to make up missing work or redo something for a better grade.

    While I completely agree with this person, the reality is that I am required to contact guardians regularly. If I don’t, I get in trouble. Every time I send out email or make a phone call I feel like I am enabling the idea that students aren’t capable of all the things they’ve been doing just fine for decades. I’m not saying we shouldn’t support students who are struggling with these things, but when we treat ALL students like we expect them to struggle with these things we do them a disservice. Of course, I communicate regularly with families because I want them to know what we’re learning in school, but I completely understand what this grandparent was saying.

    I don’t think we need to go back to the days where if a kid wasn’t doing well in school they simply failed out, but I think we need to find a new balance to what we expect of kids and their families.

  18. EricS October 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    I didn’t have helicopter parents. I was pretty much allowed to do almost anything. However, I was still expected to be smart in my decisions. And that what ever I decided to do, I had to be willing to face the consequences (if any). If I wasn’t willing to, I wasn’t allowed to. This actually helped me make smarter decisions at a young age. That by the time I was 9-10 years old, me and my younger brother were traversing around the city. Either walking 30 min downtown, or taking transit. If we had access to bicycles, we were riding. My parents couldn’t afford to get us bicycles at that age. Our first bikes were hand me downs from my cousins. I was about 12 when I got my first bike.

    I treat my own the same way. I think me and my siblings turned out just fine the way we were raised, and so did many of my friends and cousins. What was good for us, is just as good for our kids. And seeing our kids grow up the way we did, and how they are mentally, emotionally and physically, we know we made the right decision in raising them old school.

  19. JJ October 28, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    To me, “helicopter” doesn’t necessarily denote overprotective. To me helicopter parenting is things like moving your kid to another team when he isn’t starting as pitcher, writing college admissions essays for your kid, setting up all the beach equipment ahead of time so your kid can simply walk himself down to the beach when he wakes up (I’ve seen it!). Essentially making everything smooth and convenient for your child, removing every bump in the road. Kids usually don’t like being overprotected but they think they like having obstacles removed out of their way. For instance, one kid’s parent will accept the punishment the school doles out for an infraction but another kid’s parents will fight the administration to make it go away. I know the first kid is winning in this scenario, but he won’t see it that way.

  20. Mrs. H. October 28, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    Does anyone else think a lot of these stories stem from fear of teenage pregnancy? The parents who tighten the reins around puberty or won’t let their kids have friends all have the whiff of that to me.

    After reading these stories and many on the Reddit thread I have NEVER been more grateful for my parents. I considered them (mom especially) high-anxiety types (they both had a law enforcement background so tended to think of the rare bad event as far more common than it really is). Yet they always allowed us freedom appropriate to our ages, and my brother and I both were independent adults at a much younger age than many millennials seem to manage.

  21. The other Mandy October 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    @Mrs H– I think you’re right about teenage pregnancy fears.

    My parents were more concerned that I’d get married before finishing college and quit school, like they did. Regularly they forbade me to even think about it. If they’d had their way I wouldn’t have married before finishing grad school.

    I had a few friends and acquaintances who had babies young, and were held as object lessons. Not as bad girls, but as “look how hard it is to be a single parent; now their hopes and dreams will never be realized.” It worked– I took it upon myself to get educated about birth control. (And my parents were not wrong on their predictions about those friends, because not a one reached anything like her potential.)

  22. Fiamma October 28, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    Patti W. – You are one hundred percent correct. Why can’t kids be responsible? Why get the parents involved with every detail, turning them into high strung micro-managers, if they are already not one?? I am sorry, but I knew kids that got left back, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. If you can’t do the work there is nothing wrong with repeating a grade. I went to Catholic school so maybe that was more the norm there.

    Some of the Reddit stories are down right sad and scary. I believe some of those folks have serious mental issues which goes beyond helicopter parenting.

  23. Warren October 28, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

    Mostly I have run into these parents when their snowflakes want a job. Be is full-time or summer.

    A. Was at the counter when a lady called me aside, to ask if we were hiring summer students. Obviously, she was no student looking for summer work. I told her we did, and she tried to hand me her son’s resume. I politely declined it, and told her that if he could not come in himself, that he is not a good fit for our company.

    B. One mother complained that her son was required to work out in the elements, no matter what the conditions, hot, cold, wet, or whatever. She actually had the nerve to ask me (his trainer) and my boss, to not make him work outside when it was raining or too hot. He also figured he didn’t have to. He was gone shortly thereafter.

    C. And there is being introduced to mom in the showroom, when you call on the applicant for their interview. Another strikeout.

  24. sexhysteria October 29, 2015 at 4:23 am #

    Overprotectiveness is sometimes a cover for parents who are actually guilty of emotional incest.

  25. Melissa October 29, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    Just wanted to point out that the Raised by Narcissists board is also highly active of Reddit. People with highly disfunctional parents are often on Reddit discussing their issues.

  26. Emily October 29, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Warren, I don’t think the boy in your first example did anything wrong; it was his mother. For all anyone knows, he had no idea that his mother took his resume over to your work and tried to apply on his behalf, and would be horrified to find out that she did. I’d still give him a chance, if he were to apply of his own accord. He might have been a great young man, and you might have been able to help him get out from under his mother’s thumb. I know it’s not your job to do that, but I think you’d be good at it.

  27. Backroads October 29, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    As far as kids being responsible in school, I had an interesting case yesterday. A mom emailed me to ask if her 2nd grade son with an IEP had asked me the homework question he had. We might bicker over if a spacey 7-year-old should have full responsibility, but I was rather impressed and took it as a mom training her kid to ask for help himself and simply took the email as part of her training–she didn’t tell me what his question was.

  28. Denise October 29, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    I got so tired of feeling like I was a fraud in school- because I had been instructed since 9th grade and a school system change to deny that I had dyslexia/dysgraphia/dyscalculia and because they had coached me all through school and then that they insisted my father ‘rewrite’ my papers, complete with new citations and new research. By the time I hit college, I was convinced I didn’t belong.

    But then, I refused causing a huge fit from my mom, and then started finishing my papers at the last possible moment so my father couldn’t correct them.

    Then I took a college writing class and started to get better.

    My sister has two bachelors and one masters, and my father still ‘must’ proofread her work. Even thought she’s a freelance writer and doesn’t need help there and has a college resource center available.

  29. lollipoplover October 29, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    “One mother complained that her son was required to work out in the elements, no matter what the conditions, hot, cold, wet, or whatever. She actually had the nerve to ask me (his trainer) and my boss, to not make him work outside when it was raining or too hot.”

    My daughter bikes to school with several families. One of the moms won’t let her kids bike or walk in the rain. I have no idea why, I mean our kids play sports in the rain, my kids love to play in the rain (hello puddles) so why can’t they walk it in light rain? Isn’t that why they have raincoats and wellies?!

    But this week with the *threat* of rain, she said her kids would need to be driven door to door as they did not want to walk in the rain. My daughter still went with another friend (walking) in the rain yesterday. Today, she biked alone because all of the families dropped off even though it’s warm and not raining. She suggested we buy them raincoats and umbrellas for Christmas (good idea!) so they could be prepared for all kinds of weather. “Kids don’t melt in the rain, Mom.” It is a truly spectacular autumn display out there right now with warm temperatures in the high 60’s and redyelloworange tree rainbows to experience. I’m sad that some kids only get to see if from the back of a booster seat choking up traffic on the roads and in car lines around schools.
    Don’t fear the rain on your children, fear the acid rain from your car pollution.

  30. Stephan October 29, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    I thought it was bad when my son’s mother told him he’d DIE if he got too close to a pool.

  31. Warren October 29, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    Sorry but no cigar. Even if he was unaware that his mother was doing this, it is still a red flag that he was unaware that his mother was doing this. Next red flag, how are we even supposed to know that he wants to work with us, and it isn’t all his mother’s idea. Next red flag, why does his mother feel she needs to do this?

    Nope, ain’t gonna get the job.

  32. Diane October 29, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    I think these patterns start out with reasonable-looking situations, and incrementally grow to these monstrous ones. When my 11 yr old was two, we were at the park and he got mad and threw sand in another kid’s face. That mom was so mad at my son, and me, even after I profusely apologized and got some water to wash her child’s eyes. I was so embarrassed and ashamed, because even then my son didn’t handle his emotions well for his age.

    I began to follow him around, coaching him, trying to prevent negative encounters. I feel like that translated, in part, to him feeling criticized and having little confidence in his own abilities to self-manage.

    I’m in the process of reforming MY behavior now. These days, I try very hard not to hover, but I still worry. He’s not an easy person to be around and occasionally has trouble handling conflict. Yesterday, I took my baby to a mommy&me music class, and left my older two at home (11 and 8), playing with the neighbor kids on the next street. I know sometimes my son may act like a turd, but he’s got to figure out how to get along, and do it without me. He does pretty well most of the time, and the moms in the neighborhood feel free to send him home if they need to, and text me if there’s a problem. It’s a process.

  33. EricS October 29, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    @JJ: “Helicoptering” is about hovering. Hovering for parents can be anything from what you said, to constantly monitoring their every move. Which leads to…

    Mrs. H: It’s about fear in general. Fear of pregnancy, fear of kidnapping, fear of assault, fear of failing, fear of injury, fear of ridicule and ostracization, even fear for themselves of being judged by others, and some fear for the sake fearing. Because that is all they have ever known. The mind is an incredible mechanism in the human body. It CAN be manipulated into believing all sort of things. Including things that aren’t really there. But one would believe it exists, as if it’s right there, tangible. Think of habits. It takes 21 days to form a habit, or break one. Now consider being mentally conditioned for 20 years. It’s no longer a habit, it’s the norm for some people. This is precisely how we got to the parenting and adult mentality about children these days.

    What we do as parents (good or bad), is a choice.

    @Warren: I wouldn’t hire the kid either. If I was to hire someone, self-sufficiency, self-motivator (or at least the willingness to be), and a level of confidence and self-esteem would be prerequisites for me. The mother coming in to do the work he should be doing to get the job, doesn’t paint a good picture. Sends a message they would be more trouble than their worth. Because there’s a very good chance I’d be constantly dealing with the mother/parents regarding everything about their kid. Even more sad, they don’t even realize this is a precursor to adulthood and the real world he will eventually be thrown into.

  34. Mike in Sweden October 29, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    Haven’t had a chance to read the Reddit thread, but the excerpts that Lenore published made me wonder if they belonged to fundamentalist religious sects?

  35. James Pollock October 29, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    ” I wouldn’t hire the kid either. If I was to hire someone, self-sufficiency, self-motivator (or at least the willingness to be), and a level of confidence and self-esteem would be prerequisites for me.”

    You’re reinforcing the behavior(s) you’re claiming to be against. If nobody will hire him, he lacks choices, and will be forced to be dependent on his parents long after he should have become independently self-sufficient.

    Of course, it might well be that he’s ill-suited to a particular job. But to decide that without ever talking to him, or examining his actual qualifications?

  36. E October 29, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    @Patti W, interesting post. My kid are done with HS now but I know the rock/hardplace that teachers must have. I had it as a parent.

    I can remember talking to other parents are our neighborhood pool about math placement in 6th grade and learning how if your kid isn’t in the advanced 6th grade math, that they can’t take algebra in 8th grade, which means you can’t take geometry (and a paired science) as a freshman etc. It would be no big deal if they weren’t right. There were even schools of thought about the kind of classmates they’d be surrounded by if they didn’t take the more aggressive track.

    I remember a sports teammate of my son’s who missed something because he was getting tutored. I remember thinking that this kid was smart! Then I found out he was being tutored so he maintained straight As so he could get into the college his parents (and grand parents) attended and was now much more difficult. It was the first time I’d ever known of kids being tutored other than for poorly.

    I tried to figure out a middle ground that I was comfortable with. But it was hard watching my kids get lessor grades than they were really capable, when the rest of the kids they would be ‘competing against’ to get into college were being managed completely differently.

  37. E October 29, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Perhaps parents were/are fearful of a teen pregnancy…I also think that drugs are a big fear (and a more valid one).

    But it sounds like some of these are just plain fear of ANYTHING happening (no matter how unlikely) and that’s paranoia.

  38. Suze October 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    @Warren, EricS… re Mrs.H’s comment about hiring the young man who’s mother brought in the job application.

    Warren and EricS … I couldn’t agree with all of your points more; especially your’s EricS. My husband has worked 30 plus years in Big Box retail and many of those years, he was in a sore hiring position. He had a father come in and do the same thing as this mother; delivering the job application plus a huge “sell job” at why my husband should hire his son. He took the application and tossed it. He figured if this guy needed to apply for jobs on his son’s behalf, he would be more trouble down the road then he was worth. Would this father be phoning up my husband and complaining about hours, trying to schedule shifts as not to interfere with family or social activities. The list is endless. Now that being said, my husband hired a wonderful and capable young man for a trainee position and later found out he had a helicopter mom. She would phone my husband and ask if “X” had brought his lunch to work. She would phone if the weather was bad and X wasn’t home two seconds after she thought he should be … generally she would phone work several times a day making sure he was doing or going to do certain things in general. This nice young man was engaged and both my husband and I wondered what kind of mother in law she would make. I guess there are helicopter in-laws too. As a matter of fact, my mother in law is one …. wasn’t a helicopter parent but she is as a mother in law now.

  39. Donna October 29, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    “Sorry but no cigar. Even if he was unaware that his mother was doing this, it is still a red flag that he was unaware that his mother was doing this. Next red flag, how are we even supposed to know that he wants to work with us, and it isn’t all his mother’s idea. Next red flag, why does his mother feel she needs to do this?

    Nope, ain’t gonna get the job.”

    It sounds like you didn’t take or even read the resume. How do you know that you didn’t hire him at some point and he wasn’t the best employee that you ever had? Do you ask all of your potential hires if their mother came into your shop with a resume prior to this day? And then do a lie detector to make sure they aren’t covering up?

  40. Dave October 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I’d say most of those are much less http://www.freerangekids.com material and rather more http://www.captainawkward.com material…

  41. hineata October 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Am with others….many of those posts go way, way beyond helicopter in and into psychological abuse. That said, I loved the one about the parents who rang the roommate in another country to find out what their son was up to. They didn’t trust the young man, and yet they let him/sent him abroad to study? Wow….

    My mother, probably to emphasize what a good parent she was LOL, would tell us the story of a classmate of hers at nursing school (back in the 50s). The girls were all 16 or 17 and all lived in the strictly controlled nurses’ home. They had curfews set by Matron. Even then, one of her friends from high school had to make a (very expensive ) call home each time she wanted to go out to the pictures.

    I don’t let my girls bike in strong wind, wander the streets after dark alone or take off for the weekend without telling me ☺.Otherwise they’re pretty free. Am sure everyone else here is much the same. But I’m sure that even most parents we”d term overprotective wouldn’t go as far as these Reddit psych jobs.

  42. Backroads October 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm #


    I can see a mother observing such a company might be a place her kid could work… and passing along that information to said kid. Similar to anyone saying to a buddy “hey, so-n-so is hiring, wanna check it out?”

    But, oy, going through the whole application process is another thing entirely.

  43. Yocheved October 29, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    I clearly remember getting home 15 minutes late from a date. (This was in the days before cell phones, and we were nowhere near a pay phone.) When we arrived, there were police cars in the driveway, and my mom was hysterically crying while filling out a missing persons report. She was sure that I’d been kidnapped and taken over the border to Mexico to be sold as a sex slave – by a nice boy from my social studies class!

    Once the story got out, I never had another date for the rest of the time I was in high school, because no one wanted to cross my crazy parents.

    Now, you want to know why I ran away from home at 16?

  44. Warren October 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm #


    Those are just a few. I have stories from other businesses, that I deal with, that are just as bad or worse.

    1. A mother calling in to request her son start an hour later, because he is not getting enough sleep.

    2. One dad wanting a copy of his kid’s pay stub, for his records.

    3. More than one account of moms buying and bringing lunches on a daily basis.

    4. And the ever popular parent calling in demanding to know why their snowflake didn’t get the job.

  45. Papilio October 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Good lord. I do really love my parents right now 😀

    I loved the story of that college administrator who used bureaucracy for GOOD to help that girl escape from her overcontrolling family.

  46. Yocheved October 29, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    Dang it Lenore, why did you have to provide the link to that thread? I’m sitting here crying my eyes out for these people, and having my own flashbacks like WHOA. 🙁

    All I can say, is thank G-d for my Free Range kiddo. I get to heal my childhood by watching her enjoy hers.

  47. hineata October 29, 2015 at 11:10 pm #

    @Warren – crap, that’s just crazy! (Though the guy wanting the pay stubs could be plain dodging taxes).

  48. hineata October 29, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    It’s considered helicoptering at the girls’ school almost to enter the grounds….though you have to occasionally.

    As for college /university, I don’t get how parents know enough about the courses to do their kids’ enrollment for them, or change papers etc. Boy is doing some IT Engineering thing, and I wouldn’t have a clue what he ‘should’ be doing….

  49. Tiny Tim October 30, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    I do think the distinction between helicoptering and being overprotective, which many of you have made, is important. Obviously there’s overlap, but there’s a difference between, for example, not letting your kid go out on dates and letting them go out on dates only if you get to be the chaperone. Not sure which is “worse” but they’re different. I know some pretty permissive helicopter parents. They let their kids do whatever they want as long they keep the parents involved. You know, stay out as late as you want as long as you text me every 15 minutes. That kind of thing.

  50. Josey October 30, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    @Warren: I get it. My mother-in-law was a helicopter parent. No sports for the kids because they could get hurt. No college unless they lived at home and commuted, etc.

    The worst was when my brother-in-law did not get a teaching job at the local school. She called the principal and wanted to know why they didn’t hire him.

  51. LadyTL October 30, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Donna, the thing is that kind of thing happens all the time in hiring. A resume can be thrown out because it came in too late, didn’t a cover letter, that they filled the position already. No employer is obligated to look at every application they get because of “fairness”. Sure the kid could be a good worker but there is already too many red flags around his application and that happens a ton in hiring too. You can be the best worker ever and not get hired because of any number of things that an employer could decide is a red flag abut your application. and there is good reasons for that as well because you may want to think the kid is a good worker, his mom could feel he is a good worker, but the kid could not be. There is no way to know and employers do not have to hire people just to find out what kind of worker they are.

  52. CrazyCatLady October 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    It looks like a lot of those kids had abusive parents. And then….I have to wonder.

    I think back to high school, my step sister was obnoxious to my mother. She was to her mother too, and her mother took drugs to deal with her when she was there, so my step sister lived with us. She made my mother to be wicked witch of the west, but she totally wasn’t. My step sister was boy crazy and impulsive. My mother was not a helicopter parent by any means…but she did intercept some letters from a friend after we moved states where the friend was encouraging my step sister to run away with her. My step sister did make it through high school…and now she is locking down on her daughter who acts bratty like she did. (Kids are the revenge for us being teens I think.)

    And then there is what people might think about my daughter. We homeschooled from 2nd until she was in 9th grade, then she went to a STEM school. She did 4-H, had friends, did speaking competitions, and did co-op style classes. And now….she is having anxiety attacks when she has to speak in front of the class. The anxiety attacks I firmly believe have NOTHING to do with homeschooling….she was not sheltered, she got out and did stuff. Sometimes with kids…biology happens. Not all of our issues (or lack of issues) is caused by our upbringing.

  53. Diane October 30, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    CrazyCatLady, that’s true. We are complex creatures. Parents cannot take credit for their children’s successes, or blame for their struggles. I’m finding that “free-range” not only looks different from family to family, but also from child to child. Good luck to your daughter.

    P.S. I was homeschooled (back in the early 80’s) from 2nd through 7th. A fantastic experience for me, and a good educational fit for me at the time.

  54. Warren October 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    That is the thing. If he still had the courage to come in himself, despite what his mother had done, that would have been in his favor.

    You have to realize that hiring someone and training them is not as easy as just saying it. It can be a long and expensive process. As an employer, you are making a significant investment the moment you start training a new hire. So when you see a red flag that early in the process, you go with it, before you have that investment in them. I see what you and others are saying that they could become the greatest. But we are in business to make solid financial decisions. Not to gamble.

  55. pentamom October 31, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    By the time I read through the thread, it was much more about abusive situations that probably involved mental illness. I’d be interested to see if someone somewhere could create a thread that is actually about helicoptering, without mixing it up with the really pathological situations. I guess this one here does that to some extent, but that’s nothing new here.

  56. Dolly November 1, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    My parents were very free range in some ways and very helicopter in others. I was allowed to roam the neighborhood at a very young age like 3 in our little cul de sac. I walked alone to my first day of kindy and home. I was allowed sleepovers with anyone I wanted. They just dropped me off at dance instead of sitting there while I took class.

    But when I was a teen I got a lot of helicoptering when it came to my mom teaching me to drive. She flipped out on me and was incapable of trusting me to learn so my Dad and Stepdad had to teach me. She still does not like to ride with me. It annoys the shit out of me. She made me wreck her car because she screamed at me for no reason and made a new driver panic and hit the wrong pedal. And I was doing nothing wrong when she screamed she just thought I was doing something wrong. Nutso.

    She also would think she was not doing her parental job if she did not lecture me about something so since I was a perfect kid who always did their schoolwork on their own and got good grades and did what I was supposed to do she would make up petty shit to lecture me about or lecture me about something I did not even do.

    I still am bitter about all of that. She does not realize how lucky she had it with a teen that had her shit together.

    But she also was free range in that she never gave me a curfew and did not care what I went and did really mostly because I think she just wanted me out of the house.

  57. EG November 2, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    My mom was very much a free range parent and thanks to her I have some great memories. I ended up in foster care when I was 13 and that was the end of all freedom and independence. “School” took place in the basement of the group homes. I wasn’t allowed to continue with Judo even though my mom was willing to pay for it because it was “too dangerous”. When they took us swimming we were only allowed in the shallow end. Not allowed out after dark. Not allowed to take public transit. Not allowed to do anything without adult supervision. One group home had a huge yard with a giant tree house, we were not allowed in it without adult supervision so the only time we got to go in that huge yard was to mow the lawn or rake leaves. Amazingly we were allowed to smoke.

    Thankfully when things got bad in “care” and I ran away I knew how to take care of myself, thanks mom! 😛 I knew how to use public transit, I knew how to use condoms and understood the importance of birth control which I always took. I knew how to budget, when friends sneaked me into their homes while their parents worked I was able to cook and do my laundry. i knew how to shop and use laundry mats as well.

    I doubt I would have survived “care” if my mother hadn’t taught me to trust myself and to be able to take care of myself.