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I'm looking for a verb similar to micromanage that can be used in non-business contexts such as to describe a parent or a spouse.

Sara _____ her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time.

A search on dictionary.com shows a few potential matches, however these are all business related and don't really fit the context nor convey the intended connotation:

  • administrate
  • execute
  • direct

I'm looking for a word that is somewhat pejorative and has the connotation of being overly meddling.

  • Overly attached mother, Sara is. She is spoiling her kids, in a sense. Sara was very strict with her kids. – NVZ Jun 27 '17 at 18:49
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    Sara is a controlling parent, or a monster parent. wikiwand.com/en/Monster_parents – NVZ Jun 27 '17 at 18:55
  • @NVZ -- as a verb, control may be what the OP is looking for: Sara controls her children; she denies them any autonomy... (Or, for more emphasis, Sara completely controls her children...) – Roger Sinasohn Jun 27 '17 at 19:18
  • @RogerSinasohn thanks for the input. I'll update my answer. – NVZ Jun 27 '17 at 19:29
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    micromanage itself "can be used in non-business contexts such as to describe a parent or a spouse." What makes you think it cannot? – Drew Jun 27 '17 at 22:06
19

Smother (verb), or, less pejoratively, overprotective (adj). Smother, from Meriam-Webster

to stop or prevent the growth or activity of •smother a child with too much care.

In the OP's example:

Sara smothers her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time.

Sara is a smothering mother, or, more charitably, an overprotective mother. See familyeducation, Understanding the Smothering Mother

Everyone has a name for these moms. However, the one that is universally understood is "overprotective".

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines overprotective as:

wishing to protect someone, especially a child, too much:

The children of overprotective parents often do not develop the skills they need to take care of themselves when they leave home.

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    +1 I had this. Couldn't get it past the tip of my fingers (?). – NVZ Jun 27 '17 at 19:18
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    "Sara smothers her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time." – PV22 Jun 27 '17 at 19:29
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    @PV22 Hope the children aren't smothered to death. ;) – NVZ Jun 27 '17 at 19:31
  • As @NVZ points out. To smother is also a verb, meaning to deprive of air; to suffocate. – PV22 Jun 27 '17 at 19:33
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    It might be worth pointing out that in general usage, "smother" is typically always used as a verb in this context, and "overprotective" almost always appears in the adjective form. I have never seen "overprotect" used as a verb as to fill in the OP's example sentence. Maybe since this isn't the ELL forum I didn't need to point that out :P – Darren Ringer Jun 28 '17 at 19:52
22

Helicopter parenting noun, Informal.

  1. a style of child rearing in which an overprotective mother or father discourages a child's independence by being too involved in the child's life.

Source: Dictionary.com

Though this is not a verb, it is a noun that encapsulates the exact meaning and context of the OP question.

Provided by @1006a

Hover over

  1. Fig. [for someone] to stay close to someone or something, waiting, ready to advise or interfere.

Source: Free Dictionary.com

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    I'm pretty sure this noun phrase arose from the verb hover, which you could potentially incorporate into your answer. – 1006a Jun 27 '17 at 21:10
  • @1006a great suggestion! I checked the definition and I am not sure if that usage has risen to the level of being incorporated into the word beyond the metaphorical use. – PV22 Jun 27 '17 at 21:13
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    @1006a - agree. hover over ( to stay close to someone or something, waiting, ready to advise or interfere) seems closely related to helicopter parenting. See this for example chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/… – hatchet - Reinstate Monica Jun 27 '17 at 22:20
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    Maybe it's not in most dictionary definitions, but I think it's fairly familiar for all that. An old sense of the word (18th century, per the OED) is "To brood over; to cover (the young) with wings and body" so the connection with protective parenting goes way back. A couple of examples (feel free to use or ignore): huffingtonpost.com/mia-redrick/holicopter-moms_b_1304094.html (contemporary); books.google.com/… ("hovering, overprotective, managerial devotion" 1944) – 1006a Jun 27 '17 at 22:22
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    It could be used as a verb: Sara helicopter parented her children. – dangph Jun 28 '17 at 2:51
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Sara is a controlling parent (or a monster parent; mildly derogatory term).

Sara controls her children; she denies them any autonomy..

Or, for more emphasis, as suggested by Roger Sinasohn

Sara completely controls her children...

Control -- ODO

(verb) 1.1 Maintain influence or authority over

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    btw, another popular term as of late is tiger mom. It is generally (mildly) derogatory and used commonly by free-range parents. – Roger Sinasohn Jun 27 '17 at 19:25
  • @RogerSinasohn "tiger mom" is also rather racially engendered. The "Tiger" is a specific allusion to Asian people. – PV22 Jun 27 '17 at 19:31
  • @PV22 -- You're right. Around here, it's used more universally, but being Asian is kinda the default for parents anyway. (I have to remember that where I live everything is completely different from everywhere else.) – Roger Sinasohn Jun 27 '17 at 20:34
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    overcontrol is listed under the word "control" as a verb form if that helps. [Dictionary.com] (dictionary.com/browse/control) – BruiserTom Jun 27 '17 at 22:08
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The rather obvious microparenting might not have made it into the dictionary yet, but is used in quite a lot of writing on the subject. It generally seems to be employed by people advising against it. But that's not really surprising, and is common to many such terms. The proponents of such care would probably just say it's "parenting" or "taking good care".

3

One possibility is dominates

One of the word "dominate"'s positives is that it can substitute for 'micromanage' in a wider set of circumstances than with children only. It does however have more emphasis on the 'complete control' aspect of 'micromanage' than the delving deep into small details aspect of 'micromanage'.

Sara _dominates her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time.

The word has the flavor of overwhelming the influences of those dominated and assuming that role by nature.

dominate at Merriam-Webster online

1 : rule, control

2 : to exert the supreme determining or guiding influence on

2

coddle (MWD)

to treat with extreme or excessive care or kindness : pamper

Sara coddles her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time.

hover over (TFD)

[for someone] to stay close to someone or something, waiting, ready to advise or interfere. Please don't hover over me, watching what I am doing. I have to hover over this project or someone will mess it up.

Sara hovers over her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time.

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    I was going to suggest mollycoddle - basically the same thing. – Darren Bartrup-Cook Jun 28 '17 at 16:05
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Sara commanded her children; she denies them any autonomy in making personal choices and insists on knowing every minute detail about how they spend their time.

Commanded might work well in this context.

"be in charge of, be in command of, have charge of, have control of, be the leader of, be the boss of, preside over, be in authority over, hold sway over;"

0

The word Subjugates could describe the relationship if the control is unwanted by the recipients and that the relationship is based upon a traditional hierarchy between them.

Sara subjugates her children; ...

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subjugate

1) to bring under complete control or subjection; conquer; master.

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