Hyper Helicopter Parenting Results in ‘Stalking’ Order

Terms that have entered the education lexicon in recent years include "Tiger Mom," a phrase describing the intense pressure associated with a Chinese parenting culture committed to high achievement, and "helicopter parent" — one who ‘hovers' over a child's life with varying degrees of involvement.

There is, however, no widely-accepted term at present for parent involvement in a child's life so active as to warrant a restraining order, though the Common Pleas Court hearing Aubrey Ireland's case calls it "stalking."

Ireland, a 21-year old student at the University of Cincinnati, thought that her parents' efforts to monitor her were going too far.

Parents who pay a child's college tuition often want assurances that their money is being well-spent, ranging from simple comforts like phone calls to hard evidence such as good grades. But Ireland contends that unannounced 600-mile trips to meet with her department head, and using Skype not for loving calls, but for what Ireland calls "watching her sleep," went too far.

The dean's list student's complaints against her parents began when she realized they'd installed monitoring software on her computer and her phone.

Ireland described her mother as always having been "overly involved," but accusations of misbehavior coming from her parents' belief that she is mentally ill seemed in Ireland's view to necessitate court protection.

They also accused their daughter of promiscuity, doing drugs, and having mental issues to the point where they were considering going to court to order that she get treatment.

Though Ireland squarely blames her parents, her parents say their behavior is necessary and that their daughter is an expert fabricator bent on taking her acting career — she majors in the performing arts — into her personal life.

She claims her parents, David and Julie Ireland, have been diagnosed with co-dependency disorder. Her parents, however, say their daughter is just a good actor, and is lying.

Ireland's parents now want a refund on $66,000 in tuition they have paid for their daughter. They face criminal charges if they violate the stalking order, which requires them to maintain a 500-foot buffer until September 2013.

Ireland's parents have stopped paying her tuition. Faced with the shortfall — backed up by a court mediator's conclusion that the parents were the problem in this case — she received a full scholarship for her final year of college.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at www.matthewktabor.com , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
12 28, 2012
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