The 10 Worst Helicopter Parenting Stories of 2021

Judgmental carjackers, pitiless principals, and, of course, all sorts of COVID-19 craziness made 2021 a year to remember—or maybe forget—for parents, kids, and the still sane among us. There are still some, right?

These stories are: 

1. Massachusetts Mask Mess

In March, three freshmen at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst were suspended for the rest of the school year for the unspeakable offense of attending an off-campus party and not wearing masks—outside. The mother of one said, “This is similar to putting someone on death row because they have received their first speeding ticket.”

The students appealed—and lost. The students didn’t get tuition reimbursement. They were the only ones who made it to the top.

Meanwhile, up the road, Amherst College told students they were required to wear not one but two masks indoors—a precaution so over-the-top that it actually contradicted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, which recommend against people wearing more than one disposable mask at a time.

2. Hey Lazy Mom, You Suck

A second man shouted at another lady because she left her baby in the car and went to the grocery store for two things. The guy who was most annoyed at her for ruining his workday was even more so. He was just going about his day as a carjacker and he stole her car before driving away. But he saw the baby, and had to stop and get him back. The upside was that he could tell his mom how irresponsible she was, before speeding off in her car.

3. We are glad to see you again, but now we need to go.

In November, even before the omicrom onslaught, close to 10,000 schools announced new days off—for the entire week of Thanksgiving, in some cases—with only a day or two of warning. There were many reasons, from teacher shortages and fatigue to mental illness. But who was it? “We all feel like we’re witnessing the death of public education up close and personal,” one mom told NPR—as in the notably liberal public radio channel. These are the times they’re changing.

4. We’ll Turn the Light on in Your Jail Cell

Shaina bell, from Youngstown Ohio, was detained for abandoning her two children aged 10 and 2 in a motel while she took her night shift at a pizzeria. Bell could supervise her children from jail better than she can, so cops put Bell in prison on two charges of criminal child danger. The good news is that a GoFundMe was able to raise $165,000 in order to assist the family when the story became public. 

5. Pipeline From School to Prison

Braylin Harvey, 10, was late for school on a Saturday. The Chicago Public School reported Braylin’s mom JaNay Dodson to the Department of Child and Family Services. The principal sent JaNay an email saying, “I am empathetic to the challenges of balancing work and family responsibilities, however, all school employees are… required to follow CPS protocols.” How empathetic is that?

6. The Can Opener for Worms

John Roderick posted a tweet about his efforts to teach his daughter how to open a can. It went viral. Dozens of people reported Roderick as “bean father” to child protection. Nine-year old Roderick was interviewed by a caseworker. The child learned that her favorite thing about dad is his tendency to get tired playing with Legos much faster than she. Roderick was allowed to remain with his children and wife despite the shocking facts. (He is no longer able to use Twitter.

7. Fair, Fat and Four

A study of over 400,000 American children ages 2-19 found “sharp increases in BMI rates occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic… and younger school-aged children experienced the largest increases.” According to the CDC’s hypothesis, these increases could have been caused by increased stress levels and screen time and decreased physical exercise. It is possible that children are forced to be indoors for long periods of time, which could have negative consequences.

8. FDA: Fear and Dread

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), realizing that there wasn’t enough to go around this year, issued an alert to Americans warning them: “Alcohol-based eye sanitizers can cause severe injury to the eyes.” Serious? How serious? In two and a half years the agency recorded 3,642 “injuries.” This was not blindness. It meant that the eyes became reddened or irritated from the liquids in their system. It was also discovered that hand sanitizer vapors could cause adverse reactions in five out of every six million people. A press release was also published about the danger. They then issued a press release about the danger. New York TimesJohn Tierney, science writer.

9. It’s not advisable to shine for this child

New Jersey students returning to Haddon Township High were evacuated by hazmat teams in January. Are you under threat of a terrorist attack? Anthrax? Is there a new, strange variant of Anthrax? Worse! On January 4, a sophomore brought a quarter-size piece of Fiestaware—the colorful Depression-era plates—to science. His goal was to find out if the once-made with uranium dioxide, red colored, could be radioactive. He was thrilled to hear that his teacher had been excited. It was declared a biohazard by school officials a few days later. These are the exact plates that millions of Americans have eaten from for many decades. The student was confronted by six emergency vehicles with flashing lights. It seemed that the experiment worked.

10. What Dare These Boys Do Outside?

Daniel Hansen, a Nevada physician was working when Daniel’s sons (8 and 10) asked his mom if they would like to play on the street at their dead-end. Mom said yes, and off they went—until a neighbor called 911 to report two unsupervised children. They were quickly escorted home by firefighters who raced to their aid. They then apologized and said they would notify law enforcement about the incident. Alexis Hansen (Dr. Hansen) was the mother of Dr. Hansen and co-sponsored Let Grow’s Reasonable Childhood Independence bill at Nevada’s state legislature. Parents who allow their children to do reasonable things such as play outside can not be charged with neglect or abuse unless there is obvious and probable danger.

It passed the Nevada House with bipartisan support. The Senate stalled. But it went all the way in Oklahoma and Texas. They became the third and fourth states to adopt Utah’s free-range parenting laws in 2018, which was passed by the Senate. One-tenth now live where independence is guaranteed.

Let Grow hopes to bring similar bills into South Carolina in the next year.

We wish everyone luck and stay tuned: 2022 might be the year of Free-Range Children!