A 21-year-old theatre student has obtained a civil stalking restraining order against her parents after convincing a judge that they attempt to control all aspects of her daily life.
Aubrey Ireland is a gifted theatre major at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, often winning major roles in her school's musicals. Her latest win wasn't at her prestigious music conservatory, but in court after she filed a civil stalking order against her parents. Earlier this month, Common Pleas Court Judge Jody Luebbers ruled in her favor, ordering that her parents must stay at least 500 feet from their only child until September 2013.
"They basically thought that they were paying for my college tuition and living expenses that they could tell me what to do who to hang out with ... basically control all of my daily life," Ireland told ABC News.
The dean's list student's complaints against her parents began when she realized they'd installed monitoring software on her computer and her phone. They paid unannounced visits, traveling 600 miles from their home in Kansas, to meet with Aubrey's department head.
They also accused their daughter of promiscuity, doing drugs, and having mental issues to the point where they were considering going to court to order that she get treatment.
"My mom has always been very overly involved," Ireland said. "I would have to get on Skype all the time to show them that I was in my dorm room, or there were nights I had to leave my Skype on all night and my mom would watch me basically sleep."
She claims her parents, David and Julie Ireland, have been diagnosed with co-dependency disorder. Her parents, however, say their daughter is just a good actor, and is lying. They said she is "an only child who has been catered to all her life."
Because Aubrey has cut all ties with them in a very public way, they now want a refund of the $66,000 they've already paid toward her education.
"We're not bothering her," Julie Ireland said. "We're not a problem."
But Aubrey said that taking the issue to court was a last resort.
"I never wanted this to happen, that's the last thing I wanted," she said. "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.
Psychologists say boundaries can be tricky for parents with college-age children.
"I have no idea whether she is mentally ill, nor if the parents have any problems that may lead to the type of behavior that is described," Dr. Gail Wyatt told ABC News.
"What do you do when a person is 21 and you're still concerned about the well being of your child? If your child has a mental health problem you are still responsible for that child, even though they are 21 years old or 25 years old."
- Family & Relationships