15 College RAs Share Their Worst Student-Parent Separations On Move-In Day


I remember the day I moved into my college dorm like it was yesterday. I started crying and ran after my parents’ car in the parking lot.

Just kidding. My dad mumbled something to me and poof!, he was gone. I didn’t see him again until 9 months later when I came home for the summer.

Do you remember your college move-in day? These AskReddit users sure do! So they shared the worst student-parent ordeals they’d ever witnessed to make us all cringe like awkward teens again.

1. Attachment disorder

“Mom thought she would be able to live with her daughter in the dorms. Upon being told that wasn’t possible, she withdrew the daughter, and they both went back home.”

2. Delete my number

“In a helicopter parenting situation, I had left my phone number at a desk for a desk attendant one night I was on duty. A resident saw this, my personal number, and gave it to his Dad.

Dad calls me and immediately starts yelling that there is a leak in his son’s bathroom ceiling and piss has been leaking through it.

“Okay; how long?” “For a week.” “Has he done anything? Notified anyone?” “You’re the RA, you’re supposed to know.”

Dad chews me out for ten more minutes. I check out the kid’s room. He’s got towels all over the bathroom floor. I look up at the ceiling. Super light leak, definitely not piss. I tell him so and tell him to file a maintenance request. He demands that I do it for him. I point him in the right direction, but he’s a big boy, so no. He demands to know if what I know is water is piss. I casually ask why he let what he thought was piss leak into his apartment for a week. As I go to leave, he tells me he’s going to demand that the university pay for his ruined (read: wet, the function of) towels and he wants my contact info to file a complaint. I nod, give him the info, and leave.

His Dad calls me a day later, but I had spoken to my boss the night before.

“Hi I’m calling on behalf of—” “Yes I know, sir, but I’m an RA and I handle students’ problems. If he wants my attention, he can call me himself. Otherwise, I don’t report to you. Have a nice day, sir. Delete my number.” “

3. A family affair

“Been an RA for 3 years now. Every year, without fail, there’s always THAT family that helps their kid move in on Sunday and then stays the ENTIRE freshman orientation week until school actually starts the next Monday. Except the freshmen obviously have activities to go to all throughout the week so the parents, who can’t accompany their kids to the activities, sit around either in the kid’s room or in the lobby of the dorm. It drives me crazy. Last year was particularly bad, with an entire family of mom, dad, siblings, cousins, etc all camped out in the dorm’s lobby for a week.

The university seemed to pick up on the fact that this is a problem, because this year they introduced a new event into orientation week: a “good-bye” lunch specifically for parents to give them the hint it is time to leave.”

4. The odd couple

“Oddest story I had was had one room that had completely different roommates. Not like goth and yacht club odd couple sort of thing but two different away from home experiences. One had been in a boarding school for years and was laid back. Second was a homeschooler with drill Sargent dad and doting Mom.

The laid back resident’s parents didn’t even show up. I asked him if he came alone and he said his parents were in town but wanted to avoid the chaos and would say goodbye tomorrow. Second resident almost seemed dazed when his parents left. His dad told him to stay in college (like an order) while Mom cried and took forever to leave.

Next day I check in on both. One was gone. The homeschooled one had moved out, drove a few hours and had arrived at his house twenty minutes after his parents did (a fellow student in the dorm was from the same town and even same church which is how we found out).

The parents of the remaining resident showed up the next day, asked where their sons room was at. I told them and they thanked me. then asked if the freshmen had events planned or were they free for dinner because they wanted to take their son and his new roommate out for dinner…”

5. Overbearing parents

“When I was an RA in 2014-2015, one of my residents was 27-28 and was still having a hard time moving out of the house, but not because of her emotions. Her parents came over every night for dinner (they were over an hour away) and kept on trying to get her to drop out and move back home. It became really hard for her. It got to the point where she asked me and the other RAs to tell her parents that she was out when they came to see her. They got mad since the first time we had to tell them that. She said she didn’t know what she was going to do after the school year ended but that she didn’t want to move back home, she just wanted to be free from them.”

6. A nice ending

“Engineering school , 1970’s. Mom dropped her kid off at his dorm and drives away. Yes, pushed his suitcase and a few boxes out of the car. Told Junior goodbye, study hard, and left.

Junior was 15 freaking years old, super genius child prodigy with zero social skills.

His roommates were horrified, but most of them had little brothers, so big brother parenting kicked in. The kid was pretty well socialized by the end of the first semester, and had a collection of de facto big brothers and big sisters helping him live life.

It was a relief, because as a house counselor I was really worried I was going to have a bad situation on my hands. I did not need to do anything at all.”

7. Mother

“Not an RA, but a friend’s dorm had the worst case of parent/student separation I’ve ever seen.

See, there wasn’t any. At least if the mother had her way.

The day after move-in the girl’s mother showed up in the middle of the day and asked for keys to the daughter’s room.

Yeah, no.

Then she wanted someone to come with her upstairs and let her in. She was only there to get her daughter’s dirty clothing! Why can’t she do that?!

Still no.

After 20 minutes of arguing the woman left a note and told the poor guy at the front desk that it wasn’t the last he’d heard from her.

When the student was informed she seemed totally embarrassed, apologized for her mother, and said it wouldn’t happen again.

Two days later the woman came back at 5:30am in the morning, shoulder-surfed the pass code to the building, and then, when her child wouldn’t answer calls from the lobby phone, snuck upstairs when one of the residents was leaving.

Woke up the entire (wrong) floor of people by banging at the door to an empty room and eventually got escorted out by my friend and Public Safety.

“But I just wanted to take my baaaaaby out to breakfast!” / “How am I going to know she’s eating right if I don’t?!” / “I’m her mother, and I pay for everything, so you can’t make me leave!” / “I’m going to sue you! You’re trying to keep me from my baaaaaby!!!”

Public Safety kept someone in the lobby 24/7 for the next three weeks. It would have only been a few days, but scuttlebutt was that she tried twice more, including once in ‘disguise’. (Sunglasses, a baseball hat, and a set of University sweats.)”

8. You can leave now

“This was over a decade ago. Mom and dad move their daughter onto my floor. Most parents arrive and leave within 3-4 hours. This family were one of the first to arrive at 8:30 when “the doors opened” and spent the morning decorating. I was busy so I said “Hi” and kept on trucking.

They took their daughter out for lunch and got back at like 2pm – very nice send off so far.

At 4pm they were still there. The room was decorated, the daughter and dad were just awkwardly sitting there not sure what to do, but the mom was fussing back and forth around the tiny dorm room.

At 6pm I was rounding up anyone who wasn’t already down for dinner to make sure the introverts didn’t just hide in their rooms on the first night. This family was still sitting in this room together.

So, I said, “Hey we’re all going down for dinner, Ashley, would you like to join us?”

Her mom answered, “Well, we’re still sort of getting set up here, so…”

Seeing what was happening I said, “Well, move-in hours expired an hour ago, and we’re a little strict about visitors, as you can understand. Why don’t you guys say your goodbyes, and Ashley can meet us downstairs?”

The mom non-committaly said, “ok we’ll see” But I had like 10 other people with me so I couldn’t wait around.

I got back to my floor at 8pm – they were still there – almost 12 hours now. I was trying to be polite and compassionate for the mom, but I told them the parents would either need a visitors pass (for staying the night) if they wanted to stay any longer. The mom didn’t say anything to me but confirmed she’d heard the message.

About 20 minutes later the parents left. I talked to Ashley and she said her mom is really overbearing. I introduced her to some other girls who might run in the same cliques, and she settled in really well after that.

This mom ended up being my f*cking nightmare for the first two months of that semester.”

9. Time to panic

“I think the worst was the over protective mother. She constantly called her son, who ended up not answering after the third call of the day.

Mom would then call his RA, who would go to the students room and tell him to call his mom. If he didn’t do this she called the RA again and had this repeat.

It hit its climax when the mother couldn’t get her son or the RA on the line and called the office in a fit of panic that her son had done drugs and died. No, he was just playing pool and ignored his phone.

I think the Director of Housing stepped in at that point, we didn’t hear anything after that.”

10. Sheltered

“My RA time was the early 90’s. The worst I saw was a guy who cried for four days after his mom dropped him off. It was the first time he had been away from home and had been extremely sheltered and couldn’t handle being alone. It took a while but his roommate was friendly and a genuinely nice guy and he helped him acclimate.

The second wasn’t necessarily separation issues but a fight between a father and the roommate. His son was heterosexual and he and his dad were both strict Christian and macho stereotypical jock types. He saw the posters that his roommate had up, mostly muscley men in speedos and musical posters. They both went ballistic and started harassing the poor kid. He stood up for himself and they jumped him. It took me, the other RA and three other guys from the floor to pull them off. We ended up kicking him out of the dorm and he was reprimanded by the university.”

11. Out of the blue

“My brother and I both went to college far from home, and he’s a year older. So my folks didn’t drop me off at school, they helped us pack a UHaul and my bro dropped me off w my stuff on the curb. I did sign-in, orientation etc alone. If that sounds rough, don’t worry. I wanted to be SO Grown Up going to college far away so that’s exactly what I got and I figured everything out.

My friend though. She went to the same college, also far from her folks on purpose. Her mom was very sweet and well meaning, but clingy and needy. Her mom dropped her off, crying etc… and then proceeded to randomly appear on campus throughout the semester. Like out of the blue, unannounced, on a random Thursday or whatever.

The woman had a job. She lived over 12 hour away. How did she manage this?! To this day I can’t understand the basic logistics. She would appear in my friends room at like 7am “because class starts at 8!” Oh yes, she had my friends class schedules memorized, and her due dates for major assignments etc. This does not even start to address the phone calls… this was before texting was a thing.

My friend could not escape. Eventually she dropped out and went home… not entirely due to her mom, but it certainly didn’t help. Just the complete discord of this woman’s lovely, stifling presence, every time my friend felt like she was finally getting her sh*t together, mom swooped in and pulled the rug out from under her. Again.”

12. A realization

“This is my coworker’s story, but she told me and laughed at herself. It’s wholesome and I’ll share.

Her daughter went to a local college. The campus is about 45 minutes away from the coworker’s house down one of the main roads in our area. So, she and her husband packed the daughter up one August day and dropped her off. She said that she and her daughter were standing, crying and hugging, and there was another mother/daughter pair engaged in a similarly emotional good bye near them.

Later that night, her daughter called to let her know that the other mom/daughter were from CA. We’re in PA. It was then that my coworker realized she was being ridiculous.”

13. Mommy knows best

“So I’m not an RA and this was actually in the student apartment housing, but I do have one from my sophomore year! I scrambled last minute to find a place to live close to campus at the end of freshman year. Found this place that seemed pretty decent, 309$ a month free internet and cable. They would pair you with 3 other people in a 4br apartment. One of the dudes I ended up with seemed okay at first(26 yo grad student), but things turned probably 3 weeks into living with him. I’d wake up at 3 or 4am and go out to the kitchen to get a drink and heard him on the phone. Didn’t think much of it, figured it was probably a long distance relationship thing “miss you” “can’t wait to see you” all that.

Turns out he was talking to his mom. Shortly after she started coming and staying with him every game day weekend. Get there Friday morning first thing and not leave until Tuesday or Wednesday. You’d think it would stop when football season was over, but you’d be wrong lol. It hadn’t stopped up until I’d moved out. From what the other roommates told me who had lived with him before, it’s something they’ve done since his freshman year.”

14. Here comes Dad!

“My roommate’s parents took way too long helping him move in and it got to a point where we all started partying despite them still being there. His dad had about 3-6 beers (and probably a few tokes of weed while nobody was watching) as his wife nitpicked over really arbitrary decorative details. They finally leave and we’re all making jokes about how they stayed too long, thank god they finally left, now we can go nuts, etc. Nothing mean spirited, just friendly har-hars at the situation, since they were super nice people.

At this point, my roommate is f*cked up, things are in full swing and lo-in-behold, we see his dad navigating his way through the crowds of people.

Apparently, he was in no shape to drive, his wife was furious and refused to drive, so he needed to borrow a laptop to make hotel reservations for the night. Everyone is drunk trying to help by making hotel suggestions, which app to use for bookings, which deal to take advantage of, etc. and this guy wants to listen to everyone. So in the end, my roommate’s mom is sitting in the car parked outside the frat house at 8pm on party night while his dad shoots the sh*t with a bunch of college kids about where to stay.”

15. A lot of stuff

“Not an RA, but I had a friend who brought a huge amount of stuff with her. And that wasn’t all! Every time I went over to say hi or ran into her or just went past her dorm, it turned out her dad has left to go get something else. And I mean she brought normal move-in stuff – sheets, a comforter, her laptop, sketchbooks – but she also brought like 60 shirts (for a quarter that was 10 weeks in length), a large storage shelf thing that went over her bed, an over the toilet shelf thing, several other pieces of furniture, SO MANY BINS. It’s like she was moving into an apartment and not a freshman dorm room. I’m not sure when her parents eventually left, but she went up to visit them nearly every weekend (for the ENTIRE four years). For our first year, my mom lived locally and I didn’t even visit her that often, even though it was only like a 30 minute drive vs my friend’s 6 hour drive.

I still get really baffled thinking of all that stuff she brought with her, and kept every year, and she’d always comment on how big my room was when she visited. I couldn’t point out it’s because my room just had the school-provided furniture and a mini-fridge instead of like 5 extra pieces of furniture (also nobody would believe me when I’d say it just looks bigger because I put my bed lengthwise against one of the walls instead of having both beds with their short sides on the wall, jutting into the middle of the floor).

Anyway besides that, I don’t remember there being too much parent/student separation drama. It was mostly pretty normal deals with parents helping carry in suitcases, going out to lunch, and then leaving. And everybody I saw always had normal amounts of stuff that wouldn’t take up 3/4 of the dorm room on its own!”