21-year-old Student Wins Stalking Protection Order Against “Helicopter Parents”
The parents of Gen Y have long been accused of being rather over-involved with their children’s lives, even on the collegiate level. But now, in a case that’s making international headlines, helicopter parents should take warning: one beleaguered college student has not only made a stand against her obsessively-protective parents, she’s won a stalking protection order against them.
Aubrey Ireland, a 21-year-old music theater major at the University of Cincinnati and an only child, wasn’t quite getting the amount of freedom she had hoped college would bring. Despite having made the dean’s list a number of times and landing leading roles in various school productions, her parents, Julie and David Ireland of Leawood, Kans., were less convinved of her academic diligence. Not only would they drive over 600 miles to her college in order to “surprise” her, they also installed tracking software on her computer and cellphone to monitor every site she visited, email she sent, and phone call she made.
“It’s just been really embarrassing and upsetting to have my parents come to my university when I’m a grown adult and just basically slander my name and follow me around,” Aubrey said at a court hearing.
Comparing her situation to being “like a dog with a collar on,” Aubrey attempted to assert more independence over the course of her college career, but her parents soon retaliated. Aubrey’s parents accused her of sexual promiscuity and drug use, and then threatened to remove her from the school after telling school officials that they suspected Aubrey of having mental illness.
It was then that Aubrey decided she finally had enough. After her parent’s attempt to remove her from school, Aubrey was allegedly assaulted by her mother, who the countered the claim by saying that Aubrey had assaulted her instead. The school opted to side with Aubrey, who then hired security guards to keep the Ireland parents from attending Aubrey’s performances. When they subsequently stopped paying for her tuition, the school offered a scholarship to finish her last year at the college.
Then, on September 24th, Aubrey filed a civil stalking suit against the Irelands. The parents responded in kind, and demanded that she pay back the $66,000 spent for her first three years at the University of Cincinnati on December 10th. But after legal mediators deemed that it was that parents who were at fault and not Aubrey, the Irelands insisted that their daughter was “a good actor and lying.”
“She’s an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents,”’ Julie Ireland said in court. “We’re not bothering her. We’re not a problem.”
The court and Judge Jody Luebbers then ruled in Aubrey’s favor, and ordered her parents to remain at least 500 feet away from her until September 23rd, 2013.
“I never wanted this to happen, that’s the last thing I wanted,” Aubrey said in an interview with ABC News. “But I wasn’t in control of my life at all anymore. I knew that they were holding me back emotionally, mentally, and professionally and that it got to the point where that was basically my last option.”