Every parent or guardian knows what it’s like to worry about a child. And as kids hit their teenage years, it can be a challenge to make sure they’re safe without stifling their newfound freedom. Sometimes, though, that parental instinct can go a little too far, leading to so-called ‘helicopter parents’: those mums and dads who micro-manage every aspect of their children’s lives. As told by Redditors, here are 50 of the worst examples of controlling parenting.
1. Mum to the rescue
I had a friend in high school whose mom was terrible. Every time there was a party (and, mind you, most of my friends were Mormon so they were supervised, appropriate parties) she would come just to make sure her daughter wasn’t getting into trouble… The best story though was one time my friends and I went to my house to watch a scary movie.
Sheltered friend comes. Helicopter mom shows up. My dear mother distracted her in the kitchen so my friend could have a little peace and just be a teenager. My mom later said she had no idea what to talk to her about so they talked about cats for 2 hours. My mom is a saint.
2. Interviewing dad
I was a manager of a bagel store. Had an interview with a kid, I think he was about 16. His dad came to the interview, and basically answered every single question I asked the kid. At the end of the interview I turned to the dad and said “You’re hired.” The look on his face was priceless. The kid laughed so hard.
3. Grounded for months
I got grounded for an entire 6 months with nothing electronic allowed no extracurricular activities, and going nowhere. I spent the entirety of the time re-reading The Wheel of Time series. Because I stopped caring about getting grounded so much and started just ignoring it after my step-mom grounded me for a week over spring break for breaking a rule she never explained to me. I spent most of my childhood reading.
4. Escape at last
My brother had it pretty bad. He ended up being locked in his room for the summer because he went to his high school grad party without permission. (He could leave for food, or to use the bathroom). He decided “screw it” and went to college far away. He’s doing extremely well for himself now. He’s in a fraternity, and interning as an actuary.
5. Suspicious parents
My parents tracked my phone (this even continued in college), read my texts, emails and social media, searched my room weekly and sometimes my body. They’d take my door often. I was a straight-A student that never did anything wrong before they started that.
Started acting out some and developed really bad anorexia because it was the only thing I had control over in my life. My dad was also abusive but this was their helicopter side. Now I can’t wait to move across the country next summer and be far away from them.
6. Full of worry
My mom started tracking my phone when I went away for college and would frantically call me if she ever saw that I wasn’t at my dorm after 11 pm. I told her on multiple occasions that it was wrong, and she would just say “I’m a mom, it’s my job to worry about you.” She stopped doing it after my freshman year because I think she ultimately feared me resenting her.
7. Late night hunt
I dated a girl whose parents were like that for about a week one summer. They couldn’t find her one night, so they drove around and found my car in front of my friend’s house, which they had never been to and never met the friend. They walked right in without knocking and started interrogating me about her whereabouts. She was at work.
8. Supervised student
I used to teach/lecture at a university. I had one poor homeschooled student whose mother insisted on attending the university with him. She enrolled in the same course and used to follow him around to observe his social interactions, and dictate to him who he should be friends with etc.
In the end I put them in different lecture streams so that they had to attend separate lectures and labs. She spat the dummy and took me before the Dean to change them into the lecture streams, but the Dean was pretty happy with what I had done. A few weeks later the student came and thanked me personally.
9. Director quarrel
I ran a kid’s theater program, so who wasn’t a helicopter parent? I had one kid who had a leading role two years in a row, but didn’t get a lead the third year she was in our program- she just wasn’t the right fit for any of the parts (we were doing ‘Fiddler on the Roof Jr.’ and her onstage personality was very ‘diva’). But we did take one of the smaller roles (named townsperson) and divide it into three, and gave that girl one of the three.
The mom came storming in and demanded to know why her daughter didn’t get a lead and how dare we give her a made-up role and how come a girl who had just joined the program got a lead (because that girl was a perfect fit for the part). It was just ridiculous and the kid ended up dropping out of the show.
10. Adding to the drama
I spent most of my teen years in a youth theater company and this hits far too close to home. We had a kid in our program who was an amazing dancer and decent enough actor but couldn’t sing at all, so he never got the lead in our musicals but would usually get good, dance-heavy supporting roles.
Like clockwork, his mother would show up shrieking about it, usually talking about how we were racist against white people (we did colorblind casting for almost everything as you do when the company is a fairly good mix of people, and she was extremely racist anyway) and her poor baby was being discriminated against.
11. Cut them out
My mom was a helicopter parent. She controlled who my friends were, what sports I played, and even the classes I took in high school. For anyone dealing with a helicopter parent that requires absolute control, that praises you for your successes (much more than warranted), but punishes you for shortcomings (also more than warranted). Please cut them out of your life.
12. The runaway
I worked in a school for kids with behaviour issues. These kids were typically aggressive and some would elope from the building. Parents usually signed a release saying that we could touch their kids for restraint purposes. You have to remember that these kids would be out for blood during one of their crisis episodes. It wasn’t done for punishment, only safety.
Well we had one parent who wouldn’t sign it because little Johnny “didn’t really need to be there.” Since we couldn’t touch him, he could beat up on the teachers and nothing could legally be done. We would just move out of the way. One day he decided to leave the building and run down the road.
We called the police and said we had a kid who left the building and we couldn’t get him back. Mom was notified and Johnny was brought back in a cop car. She was irate over the situation and took him home for the rest of the day because she was scared he was traumatized.
13. Married in Vegas
Till I was 18 years old, I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything other than classical or country music, I wasn’t allowed to wear baggy clothes (think 1997 when baggy jeans were the thing to wear) and I wasn’t allowed to wear any style of skater shoes, or any brand name shirts or any band merch…
Flash forward to today, I’m 36, moved to England, got married, quite a severe case of misanthropy, no interest in having kids, I’m covered in tattoos, got a great job, and most importantly, an amazing wife who had a completely opposite upbringing but the same outlook on everything as I do, also an awesome job. We told the family to mind their own business and got married in Vegas 6 years ago and will live happily ever after with our cats. :)
14. Cotton-wool kid
I was at a playground with my daughter. Two parents were following their similarly aged kid around, staying within a foot of him at all times. The entire time they were saying things like “don’t do this, don’t do that, be careful, this is too dangerous, don’t fall, let me help you, you’re going to fall” etc etc. 1) Their constant blabbering was annoying the hell out of me and 2) Let your kid be a kid! He will not die going down a 4 foot slide, I promise.
15. Narrow options
I was pretty much only allowed to listen to Christian music and even within that some genres and artists were frowned upon. I remember once we were in a Christian book store and I asked my Mom if she thought they’d have the new Toby Mac CD, she’s like why would they carry him in a Christian store, his music is hip hop. Another time I bought a CD by Cledus T. Judd, like the Weird Al of Country, my mother didn’t speak to me for like a week.
16. Baby translation
When my friend took her sons to a nursery, the mother of a 6-month old baby had provided them with a multi-page manual of how to care for him. I can’t quite remember the details, but she had either written out different types of crying phonetically with a chart of what each type “meant,” or may have stood in the office giving her own demonstration of each cry. It did have the benefit of making my friend, who had felt a bit guilty about returning to work, feel like an entirely normal and reasonable mother by comparison.
17. Fear of fiction
My college English professor told me this story about one of his students. He had this kid in class who seemed to be really passionate about English, but by the end of the first week the kid stopped coming to class. Soon after, he got a call from the kid’s parents. Apparently they made their son drop out because they did not want him reading fiction books. The only books he was allowed to read were non-fiction and the Bible.
18. Determined to win
The Pinewood Derby is a competition where the [Boy] Scouts build race cars out of a block of wood… This one dad refused to let his scout son touch the car. The dad walked to the top of the ramp where the other scouts were placing their cars, with his son pleading to let him do it, and placed it himself. At the end of the heat, the dad prevented the kid from even picking the car up. Not sure if that qualifies as helicoptering, but it was pretty messed up.
19. Wardrobe monitor
I was homeschooled from the second grade to the 10th grade due to difficulties with awful teachers. I wasn’t allowed to wear tight fitting clothes. Everything had to be a size or two too big because Mom didn’t want me “profiling”. I couldn’t be at friends’ houses or parties without my mother being there… If I was going to hang out with a friend, Mom had to know who would be there, where we were going, and what we were doing, even to the point of asking for people’s numbers.
20. Genius teen
15-y.o. genius girl arrived on our small liberal arts college campus. Her parents made her check in by phone every time she got back from classes, randomly called during the evening to make sure she was still there, had the RA spying on her every move, and picked her up Friday at 2 PM. She said that dad paid the phone bill so he could see every call she made (this was before cell phones or the internet).
21. Joining the army
Military recruiting – the helicopter parents who would try to have us recruit their kid without their consent were staggering. Parents would call to make appointments for testing, and were furious when we said we had to speak to the kid. If the kid is a minor, the parents have to sign a waiver.
At that point we can no longer give any information to the parent, so some parents would call and pose as their child in order to get test results, book appointments, and so on. Some parents even tried to attend the testing with their child and were furious when we said no.
22. Creative writing
A guy at my high school last year wrote some college application essays, and after his parents read them they kicked him out of his own account. They changed the password, and rewrote them entirely.
23. Parked life
Parents of a girl I went to school with got arrested because they parked in front her dorm and slept in their van. Then, they would walk with her to classes and sit in the back of the room. Some other students reported that there were people living in the van on campus (like, in the middle of campus, not on some public street) and when security investigated, the dad tried to throw a George Foreman grill at him. It was weird.
24. Taking every penny
A friend of mine’s parents were so obsessed with the fact that their kid should be saving money, that they routinely confiscated every penny on his banking account onto a savings account. The poor guy worked every Wednesday and Saturday to get some money to do fun things with his friends.
But when he went to pay his card would get rejected and it’d turn out his parents had moved every penny he’d worked hard for to a separate account he couldn’t access. When he turned 18 he spoke with the bank and revoked his parents their access to any and all banking related to him.
25. (Literal) helicopter parent
My brother was injured pretty badly while training in Lebanon (Israeli army). The base commander refused to send him to a hospital because he was partially to blame for the accident and asked the camp nurse to take care of him. The nurse, after pumping my brother up on morphine, contacted my mom.
Mom, who was a military police colonel at the time, proceeded to commandeer a chopper, fly up to the base, argue with the commander and evac my brother out. I mean, she literally took a helicopter. I don’t think it gets more helicopter parent than that. To be fair, she’s a good mom and never really tried to control us too much.
26. Patriotic play
For a while, I wasn’t allowed any toys that weren’t educational. When I was five my grandpa bought me a Transformer and before I was allowed to play with it he had to make a two-hour defence to my grandma that the transformer was not only a pretty accurate model of a real military jet but also a puzzle and having it would foster patriotism and an interest in technology and otherwise improve my mind. In the end, I got to keep it. She didn’t know it was from a tv show or it would’ve gone right in the trash.
Going to see movies wasn’t a matter of “hey mom can I have money for a movie?” I had to cut an ad for it and a review out of the paper, highlight the parts of the ad and review that made me interested in the film, and present these to an adult at dinner. The adults in the house would then debate the pros and cons of me seeing the movie, and sometimes I would be allowed to go- supervised, of course.
27. No service, no safety
I lived at college 100 miles away from home and one week I moved dorm rooms from the upstairs to the basement. That night, my mom texted me asking if I was okay. I said yes and went to sleep. The next morning a bunch of police officers were in my dorm room looking for me. Apparently, she tracked my phone every night to make sure I got home safely.
The GPS tracker on my phone didn’t work in the basement of the dorm building, so it said I was in the middle of a warehouse on the other side of town. She told me she thought a kidnapper might have texted her back and didn’t trust me saying I was okay. She saw her reaction as normal, and that describes our relationship in many ways.
28. Two is a company, three’s a crowd
I worked in retail management for six years, and I once interviewed a young man whose mother came to the job interview with him. It was quite a few minutes before I could get her away from the interview table to proceed with the questions.
She kept stressing to me that this was his first job interview ever. In the middle of the interview, I felt like we were being watched. I looked up to see the mom, not very well hidden behind an appliance display, taking pictures of us. She waved at me when she saw me looking.
Despite having a crazy mother, the kid was actually very likeable, so I hired him. He stayed with us for about a year and was pretty great, but every time I needed to call him to talk to him about scheduling or whatnot, the mom would answer his phone. She was also an almost daily customer in the store.
29. Not sure of the details
I have a younger cousin who at 15, had still never been allowed to take a sex-ed class, go to a high school dance, eat school lunch, have friends over, go to a friends house, or take part in after school activities. For example, The stepmother (not my real aunt, I refuse to acknowledge her as family even), heard my cousin watching the Big Bang Theory. Some character says the word “procreated” and the woman flew off the handle about what a filthy show it is.
Obviously, the cousin started dating a guy against her stepmom’s wishes, and due to literally not understanding how sex worked, got pregnant and is going to have a baby. My cousin is mentally maybe 11 or 12, still watches Barbie movies, wears princess dresses, and is having a child. She was literally helicoptered over until it absolutely backfired.
30. Childlike style
My sister in law. Her daughter is nine years old and she still dresses her in the cute ruffled outfits you would normally see on a five-year-old. She gets them specially made since none of the brands offer them in her daughter’s size.
She is never allowed to have any time alone. Her mother has never even let her spend the night at her grandmother’s house unless she was also there “in case of an emergency” even though the grandmother is a registered nurse and often has all of her other seven grandchildren staying with her on some weekends.
31. Not up to mum’s standards
Dated a guy long enough to move in together. I did the laundry, no big deal. One day in the summer, when it was really hot, he stopped at his parents’ house after work as he usually did every day after work to return his lunch box so his mum could pack it for him. One less thing for me to do so I didn’t care although it was weird.
He worked in an office so he had a nice polo shirt on. Well, his mum thought he looked a little too dishevelled after nine hours of work in a warm environment – his shirt was sweaty and wrinkly and that was my fault for not doing her son’s laundry properly. Wanted to show me how to do laundry. Nope, I moved out and let her do his laundry.
32. A second secret life
As soon as I entered high school, my parents forbade me from going out with friends or to social events so I could focus on my grades. They installed Microsoft parental controls on my computer and made me give thorough accounts of what happened every day at school. They were always very proud of how much control they had in my life, since they could always brag to other parents about how well-behaved their child was. Well, I wasn’t well-behaved.
I lied about going to club study sessions to hang out with friends, and made pretend notes as “proof” that I was there to study (my parents barely read English so it didn’t matter what was on them). I got past Microsoft Parental Controls by installing Linux on a flash drive and installing it on the computer every time I wanted to do something non-school-related on the computer. I lied to them about getting into Wharton and being a business major; I’m a history major at Penn, and I think they’ll freak when I tell them. Oh, well.
33. Constant surveillance
This one girl would refuse to eat in the cafeteria. I asked teachers why and they were like “…because there is no cell service in there.” I was like “What? She’s like eight years old…” so after three months of bringing this girl her lunch to an empty classroom I asked her. She lifts up her backpack and put a pointer finger to her mouth and said “shhhh” and points to a big external battery pack and an older cell phone. I’m like “what is going on here?”
Then a teacher told me that the girl’s mom insisted on listening in on her daughter for her safety.. and would often send emails on conversations between this girl and other schoolmates or questions on something said during a lesson. One day a student made the comment “my mom showers with my dad” and the mom heard it and it was a huge deal. The reason the cafeteria was a big deal was that if she lost the call her mom would call four different teachers and the school to tell her daughter to call her back.
34. Burned out before adulthood
I worked as an academic advisor in a college for a few years. The absolute worst case I ever witnessed was this 18-year-old kid who had both of his parents come to our meeting. The kid said maybe two words the whole time and fell asleep while the parents were wanting to place him in high-level mathematics courses.
Also, we recommend taking no more than 15 hours the first semester, since college is a big adjustment. Nope, they insisted their special (and now asleep) snowflake take 18 hours with hardly any breaks. The kid flunked out a year later and I made a new rule. No parents are allowed in the office.
35. No time off for lunch
A once heard about a mom in high school who demanded that she sat next to her daughter in every class to make sure she was listening. During lunch break, she would sit next to her and make her study the entire hour. I can’t even imagine how bad it must have been for her to have her mother right by her side every single day at school.
36. Backyard wilderness
I once knew a 19-year-old girl that couldn’t go into her fenced-in backyard because it was too dangerous since there could be stinging plants. She also couldn’t get her drivers license; her parents disallowed her from going back to college because she met a guy, and they had all of her passwords so they could read all of her messages.
37. No crime shows in the bubble
My aunt was a helicopter parent and it drove all my other aunts and uncles crazy! She married my uncle who is definitely not that way at all, making it an odd relationship. Anyways, their kids were not allowed to watch the news or read the newspaper because “the real world was too scary” and they were not allowed to watch CSI, SVU stuff like that.. and that was when they were 16.
They weren’t allowed to get any piercings and the aunt hated it when I would come over even when I was little. I was more of an ADHD child so very hyper and my mom didn’t keep me from much so one day I put on CSI and she freaked out! She said her child was going to have PTSD. All their text messages were sent to their parents’ phone so they knew exactly where they were at all times.
38. An unfriendly introduction
My close friend’s mother is anxious to the point of debilitating. We were in college, and I was waiting for him outside his parents’ house so we would go catch our flight together. He was running late and his mom knew I was outside, so she just got totally anxious and called the police, who escorted me up the stairs to her. Coincidentally my friend showed up at the same time as the police.
She started flipping out saying “Oh my son was an hour late and I thought he got killed! And his friend was outside and I didn’t know him and I didn’t want him coming up.” and I’m trying to tell her that I wasn’t about to come up until he came, while my friend was saying that this wasn’t the first (or second, or third) time she had called the police on his guests because she was anxious.
39. Pre-screened movies only
I had a friend in middle school who was really sheltered. My best friend and I invited her to my house for the first time and she asked permission to sit on my couch. We kind of laughed but realized she was very serious. We were also going to watch a movie and she had to call her parents and ask them if they had “prescreened” it for her. They went and rented it so they could watch it before we did. She didn’t eat any sugar either. It was very weird.
40. Don’t touch the baby
There was a coworker of mine that wouldn’t let friends touch her kids for fear of bacteria. A friend grabbed her infant’s toes and the mom said, “please don’t. We don’t let people touch our kids”. The friend said, sorry. To which the mom replied, “don’t be sorry, just don’t do it again”. The dad knew it was ridiculous since he worked in microbiology, so when she wasn’t looking he would take the baby’s hand and put it on people’s faces. It wasn’t just when the baby was a newborn either, it went on for a long time.
41. My mum, the housekeeper
When I was in high school, I was in High-Q (academic team). We went to the state competition at Disney World for three or four days and stayed at the Contemporary Hotel. One kid was a sophomore and yet he couldn’t go without his mom. Like, I’m not sure he would have been able to function without her. She got up early every morning and came into our room without making sure it was on with us, first of all.
We were in bed or, at best, in various states of dress. She would get his clothes, whitey tighties to shirt and pants, iron them, put them on his bed, then proceed to get his other morning stuff ready, including his toothbrush and comb. She would half dress him in our room! She did little things like this the entire time at our rooms, the parks, the matches, everywhere.
42. What’s the recipe for toast?
At one of my little brother’s sleepovers when they were 11 or 12 years old, we were getting breakfast and asked a kid what he wanted. He said toast so we got out the bread, butter, knife, etc. He just looked at us with this bewildered expression.
He looked at the ingredients, then to us, then back at the ingredients. We asked if there was anything wrong and said: “I’ve never made my own toast before…” It was really eye-opening that this kid had never done something so basic on his own like making toast in his entire life.
43. Followed to the prom
A friend of mine went to my school’s homecoming a few months back. She was told by her parents to not date the guy she was with at the time but she didn’t listen to that advice, and during the dance, she left to go behind the other school building to make out with this guy.
Lo and behold, her parents were at the dance watching her, in order to make sure she didn’t do anything. When she went behind the building with this guy, her parents followed her and instead of stopping what was happening they just sat and watched her make out with this dude the whole time. So weird.
44. Exhausting enquiries
I work for a university so we get difficult helicopter parents all the time but in particular, we have a lady that phones up every couple of weeks and tries to wheedle us into giving her information about her son. Always says things like: “He says he’s doing fine but I think he’s hiding something, a mother always knows!” “You’re not doing your duty by my son if you don’t tell me if he’s getting enough fibre!” I thought this was pretty funny even before I discovered that he’s doing a postgrad, and is in his late 20s.
45. Hold hands across the street
I knew a ten-year-old girl, one of my sister’s friends, who wasn’t allowed to walk across any street without holding hands with an adult. Her mom made my mom promise to walk the girl across the street to a park at my sister’s birthday party. For reference, it’s a residential street that sees about three cars an hour, and there are stop signs at both ends of our block.
46. Travelling home together
When a kid goes to college six hours away and calls home to ask what proper protocol for catching a taxi is, you tell them “call up, tell them where you’re going, make sure you’ve got enough to pay, get out, have a good day”. You do not catch a flight to your son’s college in Southern California, despite it being six hours away, go to the school and catch a taxi with him and then fly home together.
47. The physics of bouncing
I went to school for animation and one kid in my school was absolutely obnoxious. His parents apparently homeschooled him and groomed him to be a “master animator”. One of our earliest assignments was to animate a bouncing ball and the professor gave him a “B” saying how he drew a bowling ball but it bounced like a tennis ball.
The next day the kid came with his parents and uncle who was a physicist to prove to the professor that the bowling ball would bounce the way it did when dropped from the height his beloved nephew dropped it from and demanded that they gave him an A. After they left the professor grabbed the student and yelled at him saying if his ridiculous family members ever stepped foot in his classroom again, he would fail and kick him out of the department.
48. T-shirt in the heat
When I was in high school, I went over to hang out with a friend of mine at his house. It’s worth mentioning that I’m a girl. So I go over to hang out, we play some cards and whatnot, and I’m wearing a tank top. Not like a spaghetti strap or anything, it was like a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.
It covered my shoulders but not the top of my arms. It came all the way up to my neck, so absolutely nothing was showing. When I got there, his mother made me wear a cardigan of hers because she thought I was “too scantly clad” and I would “corrupt her son”. Her words. It was July in Texas, mind you.
49. Constant complainer
When I was a kid, there was a girl in my neighbourhood whose mother petitioned the school board to allow her to attend school each day with her daughter. The mother’s argument was, “If I’m not there, who’s going to take care of my baby?” Seriously. That’s what she said at the school board meeting.
The school board refused her request, stating it would be too distracting to the other students in the classroom. The mother ended up being such a complainer that the principal of the girl’s school cleared two afternoons on his schedule each week so he could meet with her and listen to her gripes. This went on until the day the girl graduated from high school.
50. More annoying than the marriage
I once saw a mother sitting in on her son’s divorce consultation. She spent an hour saying over and over again how she knew the former wife was no good, how she was a little harlot, etc. She kept saying if only her son had listened to her, he wouldn’t be in this situation. I politely asked her to leave the room, and the son mouthed “thank you”. Things went a lot smoother after that.