How far do you go to keep an eye on your kids? The parents of a 21-year-old Ohio college student took it pretty far, keeping training wheels on her life until she slapped them with a restraining order.
Aubrey Ireland’s mom and dad kept track of her every move her first three years of college, reportedly installing monitoring software on her phone and tracking every keystroke on her computer.
They frequently showed up unannounced at the University of Cincinnati, more than 600 miles from their home in Kansas, and the visits usually consisted of countless accusations about her leading a double life filled with drugs and sex. Then they suggested she had mental problems. All of which Ireland said was baseless.
After all, she has been on the dean’s list throughout her time as a student at Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, one of the top programs in the country, and she often won leading roles in the school’s musicals, according to the New York Daily News.
And in October, she was nominated for a League of Cincinnati Theatres lead actress award for her work in the conservatory's production of "Chess," the Kansas City Star reports.
Finally, Ireland felt her anxious parents were so invasive of her privacy that she filed a restraining order against them.
"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," Ireland said during a court hearing.
Now they want her to repay what they spent on her so far for college.
When looking at colleges while in high school, Ireland's parents encouraged her to go wherever she wanted. After getting scholarships to some schools, she opted for the Cincinnati school. She got no scholarship money, but her parents vowed to foot the bill.
The Star wrote a story about Ireland during her senior year of high school, in April 2009, when she was accepted into the Cincinnati program, one of 10 girls of 700 girls who applied.
Once she left her small Kansas hometown for the sprawling city, things got out of hand.
Her parents would drop everything to drive cross-country to see her. After secretly installing the tracking software on her electronics, they decided she had mental problems and needed treatment. They went so far as to contact school officials about it. When officials asked the parents where they got that notion, they revealed their virtual tracking setup.
Her parents' request for mental evaluations and their desire to take her out of a program she was succeeding in, preventing her from finishing her studies, were the last straw for Ireland. She filed a civil stalking suit in September, which she was granted.
Now, her parents aren't allowed to contact her for at least a full year and must stay 500 feet away from her.
It was "like I was a dog with a collar on," Ireland said in court.
The parents told the court their helicopter parenting was far from out of hand.
"She's an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents," her mother Julie said. "We're not bothering her. We're not a problem."
Her father David said they were particularly worried "because of my family history of mental health," noting cousins who had committed suicide, according to court documents.
Ireland is an adult and she is allowed to live her life as she wishes, the judge ruled, the Daily News reported.
The parents' attempts to recoup the $66,000 they spent on their daughter's education thus far have been rejected, according to Mashable.
Luckily for Ireland, the university has sided with her, hiring security to watch out for her parents during her performances and offering to pick up the tab for her final year at school.
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