Imposter Moms: Because Obviously Your Kids Can’t Do It

We mothers have long since come to realize that being a “helicopter parent” is a bad look. We simply can’t hover over our children at every turn, trying to control their decisions and steering them toward the future we think is best. We can’t always be available to swoop in and save them whenever they get into trouble or run into an obstacle. No, we are taking a more hands-off approach in 2018, and I believe it is going to be a significant improvement.

We are now “lawnmower parents.” We go ahead of our children and mow down any impediments to their success. We smooth out the path ahead of them so that they don’t have to struggle in any way. We show up in force to navigate awkward situations and deflect any accusations that would impugn our angel’s character. Lawnmower parents want their sweet daughters and sons to be successful, but don’t allow them to experience and learn from failure.

But now, I can give you one better. I see your lawnmower parenting and raise you. If you truly want to go all in on being an overbearing Mama Bear, let me introduce you to a trend that I heard about in an interview with an admissions counselor of a large Division I school. He said that a new challenge for college staff and professors are parents who not only try to solve problems for their children, but who actually pretend to be their kid while doing so.

For example, mothers have emailed from their (obviously personally named) address and then signed their child’s name at the bottom. Moms have been caught calling professors and trying to change their voice so they can complain about “their” grade or assignments. The admissions office even received a begrudging email from a potential student that contained an attachment in which a parent was bribing the applicant child with cash to finish applying. I mean, if we can’t get the job done for them, we just have to cough up the cash, amirite?!

So, here are a few tips to help make your efforts as an imposter mom a bit more successful:

  1. When emailing a college or potential employer on your child’s behalf, avoid outdated slang terms like “awesome” or “cool.” Nothing sends up a red flag like references to Britney Spears, flip phones, or any dance craze more than one week old. You may need to brush up on the latest lingo and cool kid moves to be sure that you don’t give yourself away immediately. (FYI, dabbing is dead.) Be cautioned that you may feel disoriented if you research teenagers on Instagram for more than 30 minutes.
  2. Unless your voice really does sound similar to your kid’s, a phone call may be too risky. Instead, use whatever online means you can. Teenagers today wouldn’t dare send a letter if they can possibly help it. If you can complete any sort of communication (e.g., registration, application, or even complaints) online, it is much more difficult for the other party to track you and realize that they have an imposter mom on their hands.
  3. Choose the hill you want to metaphorically die on. Don’t waste a chance to impersonate your kid and get the job done on their #5 school or a class in which they have an 89 average. This is a card that you probably only get to bust out once (OK, twice—once in high school and once more in college), so you better be certain that the payoff is worth risking all of your credibility as a responsible and sane parent. It may also put your kid on the school’s shortlist of ridiculously irresponsible students, but hey, some sacrifices must be made!
  4. Be sure to create some plausible deniability for your kid. If you happen to get busted as an imposter mom, you want to be sure that your brilliant and perfect child can just blame you and move on. You can take the fall and still propel your child on to success. Perhaps this means you rehearse what the appropriate response may be, including shock and embarrassment at their mother’s obvious love for them that was simply misplaced into overstepping her boundaries.

And finally, the MOST important tip for all imposter moms:

  1. Don’t do this to your child in any scenario. Ever. Just don’t. You may think that you are doing these things for your child, but you are actually doing a disservice to him/her. Let your kids see what happens when a person is lazy or forgetful while they’re still young and can recover from a failure or challenge. Let them get a bad grade on an assignment and then have to work extra hard to improve their average. Let them miss out on a fun activity on occasion if they were careless with their responsibilities. Just let them grow and learn while you are still around to help, but not take over.
Katie is a small town girl raising a family in the big city. She grew up in Abilene surrounded by strong women and one patient father. She met the love of her life at only 17, and they both later graduated from McMurry University and moved to San Antonio in 2004. Katie was part of San Antonio’s inaugural Listen to Your Mother show in 2016 and is a happy working mom of three kids. Katie loves to talk about shoes, podcasts, rescue dogs, and her family of mostly redheads. She is held together daily by espresso and Jesus.