Parents always want what's best for their children, and will do whatever they need to do for the sake of their child. What they don't realize sometimes is how their behavior comes across.
Children of helicopter parents share how they dealt with their helicopter parents as adults. Content has been edited for clarity.
“I Don’t Blame Her For Who She Is”
“I politely yet firmly remind my otherwise lovely mother it is my business if I have soda in my refrigerator, and if it really bothers her, she doesn’t have to visit my house. She knows she’s pretty imperfect and has gotten a lot better. Given her parents drank a lot, it’s not surprising the only way she knows how to love someone is by trying to control them. My parents divorced when I was 10, and while I spent roughly half my time with each parent, my dad decided he wasn’t going to be bothered with instilling any sort of discipline in me or my brother.
My mom, feeling she needed to compensate, turned into the kind of parent who would email my high school teachers every single day to see if I had turned in all my assignments, track keystrokes on my computer, and not allow me to have a password on my phone or take it into my room until I started paying my own phone bill.
I didn’t talk to her for a few years, but now I get where she was coming from. I don’t blame her for who she is, even if it’s annoying. The best way to deal with it is to understand why it’s there and politely confront it.”
“My Home Was A Prison”
“My entire life, my parents would monitor me like a hawk. When I was in elementary school, every five seconds one would come in my room and ‘check out’ everything. My mom wouldn’t let me hang out with anyone she didn’t ‘approve’ of. Guess what? She didn’t approve of anyone. When I got a little older, I tried playing sports; it didn’t happen. I tried going out more; I wasn’t allowed. I had so much anger and animosity towards them for not letting me live my life how I wanted to. I felt like my home was a prison.
It got really bad after I graduated from high school. I was an amazing student and desperately wanted to go out of state. I begged my parents to let me tour a big name school (a few states away), and for once, they let me. We went, I absolutely loved it, and I received a decent scholarship to go there. Well, my parents didn’t want me leaving, so they applied me to the local community college without my knowing.
I told my parents everything I felt. I told them how I felt like I was in prison, and they had been suffocating me since I was young. I never got to do anything because of them, and frankly, I hated them. My parents where in shock, but the damage was done. My dad got very angry, calling me ungrateful, and other mean things. My mother sided with him, but to me it was just noise. I truly was done.
The next three years I didn’t speak to either of them, ever. When I would come home from school or work, I would go right into my room and lock the door. I would work double shifts and take as many classes as possible to avoid being home. My parents would sometimes try to talk to me, but I was not having it. I received my Associates Degree and transferred to a school of my choice with my own money. I didn’t tell them a thing until the day classes started. They didn’t like the school I chose (of course) and tried to convince me to go somewhere else. I didn’t.
Now, I (a 21 year-old male) am a senior in my last semester. I have some good job interviews lined up. I already have my eyes on an apartment in the next state over. I talked to my parents, told them I loved them, and then told them my plan. My dad and I have no more relationship, but my mom understands. She told me she was just trying to protect me, which I understood, but my mind is made and I’m leaving for good.
I wish things were different, I really do.”
“Get Bent, I Don’t Need You!”
“This is happened last year. At 16, I screamed ‘Get bent, I don’t need you!’ in my dad’s face after he overstepped too far.
My father was trying to drive a wedge between me and my now ex-girlfriend because apparently she was ‘against tradition’ because she wasn’t religious. We broke up for circumstances beyond that.
Cutting contact worked wonders for me. My father served in the military. It was his way or the highway, and one day I chose the highway.
He was like, ‘Son, you have to listen. I’m your father. I have more experience and I know what’s best for you. You can’t see her anymore’ and I snapped.
I still remember what I said.
‘Or what? I’ll go to purgatory? I’m already there. Your constant non-stop freaking nagging and controlling makes me never want you in my life. When the heck are you going to realize that I’m not you? When are you going to wake up and realize that you should have freaking supported me instead of getting in the way of my life? If you aren’t going to let me make my own choices and live my own life, then go the heck away. I don’t need you.’
He legitimately didn’t have a comeback. He just stood there. It was a week after that screaming match that I moved to my mom’s.”
“I Don’t Know What To Do”
“My mother-in-law is a total helicopter parent. If one of us (me, my husband, or his brother) doesn’t respond to her messages within an hour or two, she’ll bombard the other two about where we are/if something happened to us. She freaked out on me when I didn’t respond to her after three hours (we were doing a cross-country drive) and accused me of trying to shut her out and said we’re never going to be a real family because of the ‘walls’ I’ve built up around myself.
I don’t know what to do. My husband won’t stand up to her as much as I want him to, but I can’t do this for the rest of my life. We have to establish some boundaries, but it’s not my mom, so I can’t be the one to initiate.”
“I Don’t Care Mom”
“I had to be extremely mean and blunt with my mom. I’m a mid-thirties married man, and had to straight up tell her that I have a family and my own life. She needs to go get a hobby or take classes or anything whatsoever that will give her a sense of value. I am an adult and I do not need my interfering invasive mother any longer.
When she started giving me either the ‘That’s so horrible you’d talk to your mother that way’ or the ‘Oh no, my kids don’t need me anymore.’
I literally flat out had to just say ‘I don’t care mom. Go work it out.’
I had to be super mean to her about it. Sometimes parents have to cut their children off and sometimes children have to cut their parents off. It doesn’t make me feel good, but I sleep fine.”
“My Brother Doesn’t Get It”
“My brother and I had no free time allowed growing up, just music and homework allowed. I’m in my 30s now and my dad has passed away (he was never the problem), but my mom still does her best to control our lives. She’s constantly inserting herself into situations she doesn’t belong and passive aggressively putting us in situations she wants to happen.
But, cutting her off or telling her she’s overstepping makes us ‘the bad ones’ in her mind, so minimal contact and details are all that’s on the menu for her from me now. My brother doesn’t get it though, giving her minute details and then getting annoyed when she thinks she can have a say in how he lives his life.”
“She Came To Me Crying”
“My dad kicked my sister out at 16. I had not been in contact with him for a few years at this point. One day, she came to me crying because he was threatening her from over 10 hours away.
I took her phone, put on my big sister pants, and ripped into him.
‘How dare you! You kicked her out you have no business in her life anymore, you don’t control her, you can’t threaten her, if you wanted a relationship maybe you shouldn’t have kicked your teenage daughter out of the house!’ I screamed.
I told my mom what happened and she went out and got my sister a new phone and number so my dad couldn’t threaten her anymore.
He basically said, ‘If you don’t call me once a day, I’ll shut your phone off and cancel your email and I won’t give you my VA info so you can go to college.’
I laughed and laughed because I had all that info and just gave it to her VA rep.
He tried to tell me my husband was abusive and would cheat on me and hurt our daughter, but I was always welcomed home and he would take care of us.
With my brother, he kept going after his wife and after they had their kid he would constantly show up at their house. He’d ask to see his wife feed their baby (creepy) and if she was at work, he would show up there, so they moved 3 hours away and he still kept at it. He now has a no contact order, and if our dad shows up he’s going jail, because he threatened to injure his wife because she ‘turned him against him.’
According to him, she’s also an evil witch or something.”
“They’ve Controlled Every Aspect”
“I ended up having to remove my parents from my life, and at first, it was really hard.
Seriously, they’ve controlled every aspect of my life. When I was a kid, my internet time was limited and supervised. I was allowed like an hour a day on electronics. I wasn’t allowed to play any violent video games, I really only played Mario Kart. I wasn’t allowed to play Pokémon because it had evolution in it. I wasn’t allowed to read Harry Potter because it was magic and magic is bad. They decided which college I went to when I was 18. They decided what degree I got. When I was struggling to find work, they pushed me to go into a field I didn’t want to go in. Now, I am now stuck in this field.
When I was sick, I went to the doctor. At one point, I was dying from a bad case of pneumonia and they refused to hospitalize me, even though I was almost dead (quite literally). My lungs were full of fluid and my oxygen level was running at 82%. Even on oxygen, that number didn’t go up.
Once I moved out of my house, I started to talk to them less until last year I finally just decided to cut them off. Talking to them gave me anxiety and they always tried to steer my life a different direction, so I figured it was better to cut them off completely. At first, it was hard, but it’s gotten easier over time.”
“She Had A Lot Of Problems”
“I loved my mom deeply, but she had issues. She wouldn’t let me have access to my own bank account, despite being a college student. I was terrified of running out of cash one day, because if my train or bus was late, it’d mean I’d have to get a taxi to my next mode of transport to get me there on time. I couldn’t get a taxi, I’d be stuck in a town until well past 7 pm in the winter in an area that had an increase in substance related crime all while being a 19-20 year old woman. To make things worse, I had undiagnosed ADHD and anxiety, so learning to drive at the time was not going well at all.
It turns out, she was taking a lot of my student maintenance loans for herself. She was a gambling addict and addicted to smoking.
She justified it as, ‘I’m owed the maintenance loan because I house you.’
She’d routinely ‘forget’ to pay me the extra hundreds she borrowed, or she’d take money from my secret stashes in my room. She found all of them over time. I got tired of hiding my own dang money. It took my older cousins, aunt, grandparents, and nearly everyone in the family to intervene. They were finally able to explain to her I needed my own BA. I ended up just going behind her back and getting one anyway. She had a lot of problems, and I genuinely don’t think she meant to do so much harm, but she was an addict and using gambling on bingo sites as a form of escapism from a terrible life she was experiencing at the time.”
“A Lot Of Yelling And Crying”
“My mother-in-law is a huge helicopter parent. She calls my wife several times a day about the most minor things. It’s my wife’s fault for picking up, but she has been conditioned by years of guilting.
It sucks and has impacted our marriage, caused a number of arguments, and caused me to have a serious dislike of my mother-in-law.
We have a kid now, so things are much worse than there were before. She’s now a helicopter grandparent that acts like she is entitled to see my child. She throws little pity party tantrums if she goes more than a few days without seeing my daughter. She tries to tell us how to do absolutely everything, and always has some two cents to throw into our choices. I’m a stay at home dad and my wife is a teacher, so we don’t need her help or advice. One nice nugget of advice was that we didn’t need to tell my daughter she was black (I’m black, my wife is white).
My only sanity saver was that she lived 30-40 minutes away (she just moved closer) and we got into a huge fight where my mother and I told her what we thought of her. There was a lot of yelling and crying that night. I stopped making any kind of effort to have a nice relationship with her and now she is uncomfortable being around my mother.”
“She Looked Stunned”
“My parents tried to ground me after I came back from serving in the Marine Corps. They tried to take the keys to the car I own and prevent me from getting an education.
I told my Mom she can pound dirt. I then told my Dad if he didn’t fix himself and nut up to my overbearing Mom, I’d never talk to the two of them again. I got in my car and drove off. I was homeless for a minute until I got enough for an apartment. You’d think that me moving out and being homeless instead of living with them would be the thing that made things click. Nope.
About a year after my move out, I reconnected with my family. I agreed to take my mom to her aerobics class one day since her car was in the shop. I drove about ten minutes before she lays into me about my life choices and whatnot. I pulled the car overlooked at her and said, ‘Get out.’
She looked stunned.
I just repeated myself and added ‘Now.’
She got out. I drove off to my apartment played some Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and she got her much-needed exercise.”
“I Do Not Allow It Anymore”
“My mom is the helicopter/overprotective parent and dad was the opposite. While I was in middle school, I could not see friends during the weekdays or have sleepovers or anything of the sort. No video games during the weekdays no matter what. I had to go to church every Sunday and socialize with the other church goers with my mom. It usually lasted 1- 2 hours after the service. On top of that, I had to go to a Christian bible study group every Saturday, which I freaking hated.
If I wanted to go anywhere, I had to name everyone who was going, where we were going, what we were doing, and how long because mother ‘has to know to keep me safe.’ I had to show her almost every grade I got and I had punishments if I did poorly. I had my door knob to my room removed end of freshman year in high school. I put it back in when I had winter break freshman year college. I was always told that ‘everything will be discovered in the end.’
The funny part is, I did so many bad things in high school she still doesn’t know to this day and probably won’t ever know.
I’ve had my phone taken away for two weeks once because I didn’t answer her call (we had a terrible and cheap cell provider at the time). I was also constantly compared to her friends children and how ‘this would never happen to Maria because her son respects his mother.’
I was constantly told these fake success stories on how they ‘listened to their parents and never questioned them and became super successful while those who didn’t became BAD and this and that.’
When ever I mentioned how a friend’s family does something, no matter what, I was always told ‘No one does it that way, EVERYONE does it THIS way.’
I was also threatened to be sent to a ‘military school’ during high school, whatever that is.
I go to a university 10 hours away from home now, but during freshman year she would call me every other day to check up on me. I missed her call one day because I slept in. She called the front desk of my housing unit and had my RA come to my door, saying my mom called and wanted to know what happened.
During sophomore year, I had enough. I stopped answering like half of the calls. Of course, I got yelled at. I eventually told her to stop calling so frequently because I had to study and she begrudgingly agreed. Keep in mind, these calls were meaningless. It was the same thing every time: did you eat dinner? What did you eat? Did you do your homework? What homework did you do today? What was your test grade?
Junior year, I stopped answering almost all her calls, got yelled at again, and said I was studying more. Senior year she called me on my ‘lies’ and said I had PLENTY of time to spare. I studied mechanical engineering at a private university, I had NO time to spare. She started yelling at me more during the few calls we had.
Now, she wants me to text her every morning. I don’t because I don’t care. I got in so much trouble for it, but I don’t care. I come back home for winter break every year and all she does is micromanage the heck out of me. I’ve become much more independent in the last two years. I got a car, my own phone (and service), and recently my own credit card.
She has calmed down recently and while we are on ‘better’ terms, she still tries to pull the same stupidity when I used I lived there when I visit for winter break. I do not allow it anymore. I give her as little detail as possible on what I do now.”
“I Went Wild”
“When I talk to them, I stick to food and the weather. I never share my life details because I know they’ll criticize me and put the blame on me or tell me what to do even though they have no experience in whatever I’m going through. My mum is not my friend, she’s not someone I trust. I would never share my thoughts and feelings with her because she would either tell me what I should be doing or feeling, or just criticize me.
My mum used to control me to the point that she stunted my social development. I wasn’t allowed to go to my friends houses, I couldn’t go to sleepovers, I could only go out with my friends during school holidays only when high school began. When I needed to use the internet or phone, I would have to ask permission and justify why I needed to use it. When we were using the phone or computer, she would check on us every 15 minutes or so to verify that it’s homework related or to kick us off if she thinks we’re taking too long. I was never allowed to play computer games, she also never bought us any games or magazines– she said they were a waste of time and money.
When I moved to another city for university, I went ‘wild.’ I’d buy trays of eggs every week and eat more than one a day because they’re my favorite food. She restricted my egg intake because she thinks they give you high cholesterol levels. I would sleep over at friends places, I’d have ice cream for breakfast, I’d stay up until 2 am watching movies and playing games. I mean, my grades weren’t great, but I had fun for the first time in my life during my first year at university.”
“They Were Afraid To Leave Me Alone”
“When I was 30, I was diagnosed with ADHD and my parents’ helicoptering suddenly made sense.
I found it hard to get things done all through my life. I found it extremely hard to socialize and I always found myself the outcast. This was all because of ADHD. Every single time my parents let me do something all by myself, things would get messed up spectacularly. Either in small funny ways, or large, crazy ways. But when my parents hovered over me, gave me encouragement, and advocated for me, I’d transform into a smart, brilliant child who amazed everyone with my talents and skills.
This gave them a lot of anxiety and they were afraid to leave me alone. They didn’t understand it, and I did well at school, so no one suspected ADHD. It was easier to just help me out and advocate for me than the alternative.
It’s taken me a lot of therapy to deal with my ADHD and to tell my parents what it’s all about. It took a while for them to accept that that’s what was wrong with me. It helped a lot that my husband told them all the ways my ADHD manifested and they realized it wasn’t just my little quirks.
I’ve convinced my parents now that I know how to live my life. I have held down the same job for three years now and I’m doing well. I discovered KonMari and I stopped being messy. I’ve completed a few long term projects, mentored my siblings, and I am supporting the family financially.
They basically just want to know I’m fine. Once they gained that confidence, they found it easier to let go.”