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The Parent-Produced Project

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John Rawlinson: I believe you said he'd been consistently undermarking your son in his English.
Helen: All term. He's never given him a decent mark ever.
Laura: That's it?
Helen: I've spent two days on his last homework, Laura, and do you know what he got? A "D" and something about "Had You Read the Book?". Of course I've read the bloody book!
Laura: So that's why you drove the car at him? Because he gave you a "D" in English?
Helen: This is exam work, Laura! Much more of this and he's going to fail his GCSEs.

When a child needs a school project done, sometimes the parents (usually the mother) would do it for them. Often the parent is doing the project for their lazy son the night before the project is due.

In some cases the kids don't want this much help with the project, it's the parent pushing themselves on it to make themselves look good.

Related to Science Fair projects, Ridiculous Procrastinator, Last-Minute Project, and Homework Slave.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • There was a Cardcaptor Sakura episode where Sakura put off her homework until the end of the holiday and had to finish it on the last day. Her father gave her some of the answers. It's also shown that her brother Touya (and Yukito) made her birdhouse project for her, but she had to do his chores in exchange.
  • In Lucky Star, Tsukasa recalls a time when her dad did a project for her; it got an award, and Tsukasa told him she thought he was amazing. Kagami thinks she would've been irritated in his position.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Baby Blues story had Zoe participating in a school contest to make a poster about recycling. Darryl and Wanda end up doing the whole project, though Zoe is quick to point out to her teacher that the most important part of the poster is her own work...the signature.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Set It Up: Rick's son has a Science Fair coming up. Rick being a demanding Mean Boss, he has his assistant Charlie make the project. Charlie spends days working on something about lemon batteries, only for Rick to destroy it during a temper tantrum.
  • Inverted, or nearly so in St. Vincent (2014): The big project in Oliver's class is about modern "saints", and in his speech before the presentation he jokes that most of the students probably selected a parent.

  • In one The Baby-Sitters Club book, there's a science fair coming up and many of the sitters are supervising and helping out clients with their projects. While most just supervise or offer advice, Jessi ends up taking over and doing the bulk of Jackie Rodowsky's project for him. This ends badly when the judges ask him other questions about it and determine that he has no idea.
    • In another Babysitters' book, one of Mallory's brothers is discouraged that another student's math fair project is much more sophisticated than his, but cheers up when one of the judges asks her a question and she can't answer it—her mother did the project for her.
  • In The Devil Wears Prada, Andy at one point is painting a diorama of the solar system. Her boss, Miranda Priestly, it seems, regularly makes her complete projects for Priestly's twin girls.
  • In one of the earlier Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Roderick is terrible with technology and makes his dad type all his essays for him. Because Rodrick’s drafts are riddled with huge inaccuracies that his dad can’t bear to type, he always ends up correcting them and thus doing the bulk of the essay for him.
  • It's mentioned in the Teenage Worrier series that Letty's little brother can't read or write well for his age. She puts this partly down to their parents doing his school assignments for him.
  • In the book I Dont Know How She Does It, Kate discovers a letter from her daughter's school, stating that the children were supposed to make food to bring to a cultural fair. Kate ends up steaming the labels off jars of shop-bought jam and putting new labels on them to pretend that she and her daughter made the jam themselves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This happens in American Gothic (1995), when Buck (who is actually the devil...or something) does Caleb's science project for him. It becomes An Aesop when Caleb admits in front of his class that he cheated. It turns out that he learned so much about science on his own that he was able to give an impressive speech on the topic anyway.
  • On an episode of Archie Bunker's Place basically all the employees of Archie's bar pitch in to do Stephanie's science project for her. She feels guilty and the teacher tumbles to it right away.
  • Cheers: In "Someday My Prince Will Come", Carla brings Gino's non-functioning science fair project—an electric generator—into the bar for the guys to fix. Cliff winds up shocking himself.
  • The InBESTigators: The motivation behind the theft of Pixie's project in "The Case of the Missing Solar System"; the thief's parents always did his projects for him and his own efforts paled in comparison to everyone else's so he tried to pass Pixie's off as his, though Maudie foils it.
  • Narrowly averted in Modern Family. Haley needs to bake some cupcakes for school and tricks her mother into making them by pretending to be incompetent in the kitchen. At the end of the episode, Claire catches on to the trickery and dumps the freshly baked cupcakes in the bin; telling Haley that now she has seen how it's done, she can do it herself.
    • Inverted in another episode of Modern Family, where the Dunphy parents decide NOT to help their kids for a change, since the kids have grown to take it for granted that the grownups will do all the work.
    • Subverted by the third-season episode "Egg Drop". At the end Luke and Manny admit they manipulated Claire and Jay into doing their projects for them.
  • Happens in Reba with Van building a volcano for Jake's science class (though Van is Jake's brother-in-law, not his father). He and Jake we're supposed to build it together, but Van dislikes Jake's ideas and does the project himself. Van mentions that his father used to do the same to him, with one of Van's projects being a dialysis machine. When Reba points out Van's misconduct, he apologizes to Jake and they both decide to build one together.
  • The Sopranos: In one episode, Carmela decides to help AJ with an essay on Billy Budd. He still only gets a C and she's embarrassed as a result.
  • On Still Standing, Lauren's parents make her science projects, only to get her promoted into the honors class. In their honors projects, the teacher criticizes "Lauren's" work, and the parents naturally take it personally.
  • On The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Arwin takes over Cody's science fair project because he wants the glory he lost when his own science fair project blew up.
  • In That's So Raven, Corey tricks his parents into completing his school projects for him by pretending to be too incompetent to complete a project of any quality. But then subverted because his actual project was a report, and in it he was trying to prove that if he messed up badly enough, his parents would always cover him. He got an A and punished in the end.

  • In Narbonic, Helen mentions that her school project Zeta was done with her mother's help.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur deconstructs this in the episode "Muffy Takes the Wheel". The episode's conflict revolves around Muffy wanting to build a miniature car on her own for a school project, but she feels like Ed is taking it over. He's genuinely helping and doesn't come off as too pushy, and he had entered a similar contest as a kid. However, Muffy feels guilty about taking what's basically his work and passing it off as her own. In the end, she makes her own car at the last minute rather than using her father's.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy Turner wins a school science fair because his project was so bad that he obviously did it himself, and all of the other students had their parents' help.
  • In the short-lived Nick at Nite show Fatherhood, one episode involves a football player whose parents do all of his papers.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Bobby takes advantage of Peggy’s ego and gets her to write his essay for him. She also ends up writing papers for many of Bobby’s classmates.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "The Cart Before the Ponies" has a variant; the younger ponies are allowed help from an older pony when building their carts for the Applewood Derby, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders find their respective mentors (Rarity and Sweetie Belle, Applejack and Applebloom, and Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo) get so caught up in doing things their way, they take over the project, to the point of actually driving the carts in the big race instead of letting the younger ponies do so! When their bossiness causes a big crash that nearly spoils the Derby, the Crusaders decide they've had enough and call out the older mares for refusing to listen to their mentorees and let them do things their way.
  • There is an episode of Rugrats: All Grown Up! where Tommy tries to stop his dad from finishing his project for him, since his father has done so before.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied and played with in "$pringfield, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling", where Lisa and Ralph won "special" awards for their costumes during a school pagent about the fifty United States, as the only two who obviously didn't have parental help making their costumes. (Ralph's costume was a piece of paper he had taped to himself saying "Idaho.") Ironically, Lisa did have her father's help with it.
    • In another episode, Lisa enters an essay contest and while her entry makes it to the top, one of the judges suspects she had help from her father because the standard is higher than might be expected for a child's essay. After talking to Homer for about a minute, she then decides to give her an extra 10 points and thus letting her go to the finals.
    • Another episode had Homer becoming a "helicopter parent", and build Bart's model of Westminster Abbey for him. It had the same punchline - Bart wins an award because it's assumed he didn't have parental help.
      • Similar to this, when Homer helps Bart build a soapbox derby car, it's done so poorly that a judge assumes Bart took the 'no parental help' rule too seriously.
    • In "I'm with Cupid", Marge builds a working model of the human digestive system for Bart the night before it's due. Far from being for Marge's ego, Bart guilted her into doing it herself by waiting until the last minute or else he'd fail. (Nelson destroys it on the bus before they get to school.)
    • An early episode had a father at a science fair who had clearly done the project become so protective of it he insisted his son stay away from it.

    Real Life 
  • Dave Barry mentions this several times in his columns.
    • In one instance he plots out a usual hectic morning, with "7:39 : Get child in car. 7:43 : Child mentions he has science fair project due that day, which he has never mentioned before. 7:50: Drop child off at school with completed Science Fair project, entitled "Objects found in 1984 Chevrolet ashtray".
    • In another, he sees it as revenge on the teacher's part for putting up with students (and especially parents): "I've got it! Next year we'll have them make a volcano that spews real lava!" "No, we already did that last year."
  • Brian Regan complains about this during his "Cup of Dirt" routine. "Kid couldn't even tie his own shoes but he brought a volcano!"

Alternative Title(s): Parent Produced Project