If you push your child toward high achievement using often severe methods, you might be a Tiger Mother.
If you are overinvolved in your child’s life and intervene unnecessarily when problems arise, you might be a Helicopter Parent.
But how many parents could legally be called “stalkers”?
A 21-year-old student at the University of Cincinnati, who is also on the Dean’s List and an accomplished musician, issued complaints in court against her parents that might make even the most eager helicopter parents flinch. These include: the installation of monitoring software on her phone and computer, the use of Skype to watch her sleep, and unannounced visits at college from 600 miles away. She was given a legal restraining order.
The parents, who have been accused by their daughter of being “co-dependent,” have argued that their daughter is taking drugs and has mental disturbances. They have also asked for a refund in their tuition.
This student was a legal adult, but what about kids who are under 21? In my teaching career, I’ve certainly witnessed parents who crossed the line from attentive, involved, and supportive to aggressively intrusive. And, yes, I’ve seen kids who were being harmed psychologically and academically from their parents’ overinvolvement. I remember one parent who would e-mail me desired seating charts of all of her child’s classes, would attempt to go through the class garbage at the end of the day in order to find notes about her child or written by her child, and would hide in the bushes during recess to observe her child’s interactions.
Yes, those cases are extreme. And, yes, most parents cannot afford — and have no desire to — to go through these kinds of efforts to ensure a child’s well-being. However, ask any teacher or administrator at many colleges or schools in this country, and he or she might not be surprised by this story.
How do schools, teachers, and kids themselves deal with “parent stalking”? Are there circumstances when someone — an administrator or even the legal authorities — needs to intervene?