People Are Sharing Horror Stories About Growing Up With Overbearing Helicopter Parents, And It's Truly Toxic

Per Merriam-Webster, a “helicopter parent” is a parent who is overly involved in the life of their child. We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their own helicopter parent horror stories — here’s what they shared with us:

a woman putting a helmet on a kid who is wrapped in bubble wrap


“My parents pretty much followed me everywhere for the first 18 years of my life. I wasn’t allowed to have a bedroom door, there were no locks on doors (not even the bathroom), and I was constantly watched and judged. My mom worked at the school I attended, and for nine years she followed me, made other people follow me and report to her, stood at the windows to watch me at recess, and talked to all my teachers about me.”

“I wasn’t allowed to do anything alone, and when we had a school trip when I was 16 (I got to go after six months of begging her), she made my teacher follow me around and basically hover over me. I wasn’t allowed to have secrets (I still did, but had to get creative with diaries and such), and I never got to go to a birthday party or have one of my own. It was horrible. Years later, I still cannot go outside on my own at all and have virtually zero knowledge about how to function. It literally felt like I had a helicopter hovering over me.”



“When I was in the seventh grade, I stayed the night at a friend’s house who had an overbearing mother. She dead-bolted my friend’s bedroom door from the outside so we ‘wouldn’t sneak out.’ A couple of hours later, I had to pee, so my friend used a wire hanger to open the door from the outside. Of course the mother heard, so she came out and screamed at us. I did not stay there again. That was so dangerous for many reasons.”


dead-bolted door


“I was 12 and went to a summer camp located maybe 30 km away from the city. Before that, I had never stayed anywhere alone. My parents spent the first night freaking out, and the next day my dad drove to the camp to check on me. He just appeared, out of the blue, during lunchtime. In front of everyone. Gosh, that was embarrassing.”



“My mom is SUPER overprotective of my siblings and me, especially us older two kids, probably because she’s super Mormon and we don’t necessarily follow that lead. We’d have to put our phones in my parents’ room every night at a certain time, and if we put them away too late, we couldn’t use them the next day. Also, the Wi-Fi in the house would shut off from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. on school nights and 12 a.m. until 7 a.m. otherwise. Also, she would go through our phones and search history. There was one time I found my mom scrolling through my search history, and she ended up grilling me about some R-rated movies I’d looked up (I didn’t even end up watching them) and some other stuff she’d found.”

“She also made us give her our login info for social media whenever we made new accounts, and she would go in and unfollow people she thought ‘weren’t appropriate to be following.’ She unfollowed Cardi B a lot. I was like 17 at the time! Also, when I was first questioning my sexuality, I would look stuff up online about different identities to figure out what fit me, and my mom ended up seeing it in my search history and started asking me about it and telling me about how asexuality ‘wasn’t real’ and how every asexual person she knew was either ‘sad and lonely’ or ‘got over it’ and was married with kids. My brother is only almost 17, and I feel so bad for him because it’s somehow gotten worse since I left. He can’t even use technology in his room unless the door is WIDE OPEN. Plus, she started giving him a BEDTIME. Meanwhile, our two youngest siblings deal with none of this. They get away with so much and are becoming incredibly entitled as a result.”


locked-up phones


“My freshman year of college had a few rough patches, but I was handling things just fine. I was in college during the days of e-cards where you could input your friends’ pictures and send silly cards of things like dancing reindeer with your friends’ faces plastered on them. I’d received one in my school email account from a friend in the dorms. I was on the phone with my parents one night and casually brought up this friend in an unrelated topic of conversation, and my mom said, ‘Oh! The one who sent you that fun e-card!’ I was immediately confused. I hadn’t and wouldn’t have shared this random card with my parents.”

“When I ask how she knows about the e-card, she started stumbling over her words and said that they’ve been concerned about me. Since they had the password to the university portal I’d shared with them to help pay for my housing costs, they’d logged into my email and were checking up on me by reading my emails. They were worried and couldn’t understand why I was so upset because ‘they had good intentions.’ I immediately set up an automatic forward and delete and created a private account, but the damage was already done. It’s been over 15 years, and I’m still salty about it.”



“I literally just got into an argument with my mom (one of many) about whether or not I can close my bedroom door. She proceeded to take away my phone and laptop (as she always does). I am 20 years old.”


a woman shutting a door


“Until my mother’s death this past April at the age of 99, she hovered over me my entire life. I am currently 65 years of age. While I did love and respect her as my mother, I struggled for independence my whole life. I provided her with the best care possible until her death and put my life on hold for several years. During that time, my partner and I had also moved my MIL with dementia into our home to care for her. My mother remained in her own home until her death. I am an only child and feel at peace with her death because of the care I provided, but I also feel guilt because this is the first bit of peace I have truly known in my adult life.”

“One example of her ‘helicopter personality’ that I still struggle to forgive is when I became engaged to my first husband. My mother went out to the local wedding shop and found a wedding dress on sale for $25 and bought it. She robbed me of every little girl’s dream of trying on and choosing the perfect dress. She proceeded to plan the entire wedding without any input from me regarding music, invitations, food, or anything else. That was 42 years ago, and I still struggle with letting it go. After my divorce, she had a key to my condo and would take her friends over to see it without asking me. It put extra stress on me because I felt like I had to keep everything in order before leaving for work because I never knew when a tour would be conducted. I finally changed the locks and only gave my parents a key when I had to go out of town. She never got over it, and our relationship never truly healed after I changed the locks. It amazes me how some mothers can make you feel such guilt over trying to set up small boundaries in your own life. I pray that putting this in writing will allow me to release some of my resentment and move on to the next phase of my life.”



“When I was 25 and studying in another city, I talked to my mom on the phone one night and mentioned I was planning to stay in for the evening. An hour or so later, my boyfriend called me and said he was going to a friend’s birthday party and asked me if I wanted to go. I said sure, and we got to the party around 10:30 p.m. Well, an hour later, I checked my phone and had 78 missed calls and over 35 texts from my mother, three close friends, and my sister. My mother freaked out because she thought I had been kidnapped or something and did not believe I was just at a birthday party. She asked, ‘Why didn’t you tell me or your friends know about it?’ To this day, she maintains that she was right to call my friends to see if I was with them.”

“A few months later, I went to a road trip with my boyfriend, and she demanded I ring her every 30 minutes so she knew we hadn’t died. She wanted me to do this for an eight-hour trip! When I ‘missed’ one of the scheduled haven’t-died-yet calls due to bad reception, I ended up with over 20 missed calls. I’m a mother now myself, and I’m still waiting for the famous ‘you’ll see I was right when you have kids of your own one day’ moment.”


a person texting


“My first boyfriend’s mother followed us everywhere on our first date. She stayed about 10 feet behind us to try to ‘give us space,’ but proceeded to follow every move we made, just 10 feet behind. I can understand being worried about your teenage kid’s first date with another teenager you don’t know, but it was strange.”



“My parents, and my mom in particular, are ridiculous helicopter parents. The most scarring incident happened when I was 21. Yes, 21 years old. I was wearing a new dress for a college honors ceremony that showed *maybe* half an inch of cleavage. My mother pinned my dress shut. I yelled at her for being ridiculous, but she told me I looked like a slut. It’s been 19 years, and I’m still angry.”


a safety pin


“I’m a college professor, and the number of parents emailing me on behalf of their children is alarming. Many young people have anxiety disorders or challenges with communication, but college is the time for the vast majority of individuals to be adults (especially since they are now actual adults). Legally, I’m not allowed to respond to parents beyond acknowledging that their child is enrolled in the college.”



“My mom wouldn’t let me and my sister ride in cars with anyone unless she or my dad were driving. Not my grandparents, not trusted friends, literally no one else, until we were teenagers. Even then, it was like pulling teeth. Eventually, I saved up enough to buy my own car and got my freedom that way.”


a teenage girl in the backseat of a car


“As a surprise, my older sister took me to get my septum pierced when I was 19 because she knew I had wanted it done. My mother was DISTRAUGHT. She would literally cry herself to sleep over it. In the end, she bribed me to take it out with the opportunity to get a puppy. Jokes on her because it was pierced wrong and had to come out anyway, but I got a dog out of it that I loved so much.”



“I was really into theatre when I was kid, from early elementary age into middle school. My mom used to sit in the front row of every play and prompt me on all my lines! She would do it even for lines I knew.”


a woman fixing a child's costume


“Once, when I was 12, my mom dropped me off at the local library to study with some friends. I had a phone at the time, but we ended up studying in the basement, and there was no service (no Wi-Fi either). I told her the service was spotty, and I texted her on and off during the study group. About an hour in, I had a bad feeling and went upstairs. There, I see my mom at the front desk screaming at the poor librarian and demanding to know where I went. She saw me, told me to go outside with her, and then proceeded to yell at me for making her worry and not answering my phone. I tried to explain that I had no service and didn’t get her latest messages, but she wouldn’t have it. She yelled at me and made me go upstairs where there was service so I could check in every few minutes.”



“My childhood bedroom doorknob hasn’t been on the door since 2010.”


a person removing a doorknob


“Sadly, this happened when I was 22 and already living by myself. I went out with my best friend to a TV show recording, and we had to leave our cellphones at the coat check. They do this so people don’t film anything from the TV show before it actually airs. The recording was longer than expected, and we didn’t get out before midnight. I got my phone back, and there were, I kid you not, 16 missed calls from my mom. She couldn’t reach me for maybe five hours, tops, so she called the embassy. I’m Russian living in France, although I’ve lived here since I was 4, so I don’t know what good it would have done. She also called pretty much everyone she knew. She was waiting for me AT MY HOUSE, and she kept crying. Again, I was 22. I had already lived abroad for six months. This whole thing was just wrong and traumatizing for everyone.”



“I got an Instagram in sixth grade and Snapchat in ninth. My parents were super skeptical about social media, so it took a lot of begging and compromise. Part of the deal was that they would have access to my passwords in case of emergency. But my mom would be logged into my account on her phone and would check it every day, sometimes even deleting posts of mine without really consulting me. I finally started speaking up in eighth grade when I was talking with a boy via DMs and she would read our conversations and ask me why I was hiding it. Super invasive. After I spoke up, she claimed she wouldn’t do it anymore, but I could tell when she was signing into my Snap and IG, and I had a feeling she was doing it a lot. My parents wouldn’t let me change my passwords either.”

“Around my junior year of high school, I thought my mom had finally calmed down and I finally had some privacy. I was 16, and no one else my age had parents controlling their social media that i knew of. Even my friends who were more sheltered than I was thought it was super weird and strict. One day, I was having a panic attack before school because of a huge test I didn’t study for, and since my parents are super against missing school, I lied about being sick. I asked for advice about faking sickness on my private story on Snapchat. My mom called me later that morning screaming at me that she saw it and that I was going to be in huge trouble — grounded, all electronics taken away, etc. Later that year, I got a therapist, and she validated that I deserved more privacy. Only after talking to my therapist did my mom finally agree to never sign into my accounts and spy again. It’s been a couple years, and she’s improved a lot. We’re really close now.”


a hidden password on a screen


“I used Life360 until my junior year of college. When I would go out to parties or friends’ places and come back late, I would wake up to a text from my parent with a screenshot of the Life360 notification saying I had arrived home at 2:30 a.m. along with a ‘Where did you go last night?’ I know it was just curiosity, but it still rubbed me the wrong way, especially freshman year, when I had finally gotten a taste of independence.”



“When I had my first date, alone, my mom was so freaked out that she had my grandfather sit in the back of the theater, and when I saw him, I was mortified. She also tracked me using an app that entire night.”


a movie theater


“I was a teacher for a decade. There was once a kid named Connor whose parents were the ultimate helicopter parents. My planning period was first period, so I’d sometimes run errands before getting to class. One morning, I opened my door to find a male parent in my room alone with the lights off. He was waiting for me because Connor couldn’t find his homework, and he was convinced that I’d lost it. I showed him my filing system and everyone else’s folders. Finally, I asked him to leave. The next day, Connor turned in the paper. It’d been in his backpack. I’d like to add that this was a ninth-grade English class in a competitive high school.”



“I have so many horror stories, but I’d say the worst (and biggest) is my mom not letting me go to school. I was homeschooled for the vast majority of my life and have always wanted to go to school. As a result, I really didn’t have a childhood/teenagehood because I had no friends due to her constant hovering. I also wasn’t allowed to have sleepovers, and she freaked out whenever I spent time with a friend who had a brother.”


a kid and a parent working


“I worked in the office of a high school debate camp. One of my jobs was picking campers up from the airport. Counselors would sit in baggage claim so campers would never be left unattended. One of my counselors was 18 years old. He started texting me saying that one of the moms wanted to speak to him on the phone so he spoke to her. The mom asked him all of these questions, his name, his high school, his GPA, what his parents do for a living, etc. The counselor gave her all of this information. But he then called me when the mom demanded his social security number, home address, and phone number. I end up getting on the phone with the mom to calm her down.”

“Throughout the next two weeks, she called the office constantly. I heard all about her marital problems and her daughter’s problems in school. She also demanded we keep giving the daughter 50 milligrams of melatonin each day, even though her daughter was falling asleep during camp.”



Finally: “I ran orientation for a previous employer, and one of the new staff missed the first day. When she came in the next day, I asked her what happened. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt because maybe there had been a car accident or emergency situation. She said she forgot. She was also super rude to our receptionist, so the director rescinded her job offer. The girl’s mother called several times, asking for her daughter to get her job back and demanding to speak to the CEO. It was ridiculous.”


Do you have a helicopter parent horror story you’re willing to share? Tell us in the comments!

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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