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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Bullied Parents

I have met grown adults who shock me when they fail to perform in their own homes with their own children. They are parents who may begin well with their kids — but over time they abdicate their leadership in the family. Have you met them, too?

Bullied Parents

In the same way that a bully picks on weaker kids at school and requires intervention on the part of a teacher or principal, bullied parents are those who have been exhausted by their own kids. They are whipped parents. Having been worn down, these parents give up on discipline. In response to their own children’s repeated rebellion, they have opted to surrender their role of authority and adopt a laissez-faire position. Although they are not happy in the defeat of their parenting goals, they find solace in the cessation of hostilities. Life seems better once they stop resisting. Peace comes by simply allowing their kids to control situations, drive family decisions.

These parents are often counting the days until their children leave home. Unfortunately, the children will leave ill-equipped for the world they enter. They are used to calling the shots, they have not learned self-discipline, and their attitude toward authority is such that they are unlikely to keep a job. Unlike home, the world will not let them have their own way, and they will suffer for it… because Mom and Dad have failed to furnish boundaries or teach them respect for authority.

The problem: These parents lack the backbone to lead their children, and prepare them for a potentially harsh adult world. The children are leaderless.

The issue: In some ways, the issues of this parent can resemble those of the karaoke parent. They may fail to lead their children and become whipped due to their intense desire to be liked and accepted by their child. Very often I have noticed the bullied parent scenario is likely when the child’s personality is stronger than the personality of mom or dad. The more stubborn personality will fight battles that the weaker personality simply responds: “Whatever. I just don’t want to fight.”

This kind of parent must find some allies, a counselor or a parent support group in order to develop some backbone. They must determine what values will govern their family and choose to fight for those values. “Choosing your battles” is a term often used to refer to times when we choose not to fight over a trivial matter, but it also means that sometimes we do choose to fight worthwhile battles to uphold what is important. This is a lesson that bullied parents must take to heart.

Take the Parent Style Quiz to see about your style:



  1. Frustrated mom on April 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    What type of parenting scenarios are being put out there, each case is uniquely different , and, I for one would be really interested in knowing how it is that a professional, can make a call like that not even knowing the parent or the child.  Come spend a 24 hour  day with me and mine, the only reason that I am writing this, is because I took your quiz, and a very poorly written one at that,  according to that I am 3 types of could be?  What is that all about.  Some definitive answers WHEN  a case like mine had been looked into, would certainly pull my interest in the direction of okay, this I would be interested in.  

    • Tim Elmore on April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Thanks for sharing the feedback about the Parenting Quiz and the article on parenting styles. You may have missed the purpose of the quiz – it’s not intended to provide a definitive diagnosis. I agree with you – that would be impossible without spending time evaluating both you and your child.

      The quiz was intended to start a conversation and cause parents to think about four problems at the root of these parenting styles:
      1. They don’t allow their kids the privilege of learning to fail and persevere.
      2. They don’t provide their kids the clear parameters that build security and esteem.
      3. They don’t furnish their kids the mentoring and authentic face to 
      face time they require.
      4. They have unrealized dreams from their past—at times an unhealthy 

      I don’t believe anyone sets out with the desire to become one of these four parenting styles.I hope by allowing parents to recognize where they are, they can take steps to improve their parenting. I know parenting is not easy and wish you all the best as you seek out helpful resources.

  2. Amy on April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I read your article and your info on the types of parents. I think that you make issues way too simple. Then you leave parents feeling guilty and you come across as really self-righteous. I would be described by you as a dry cleaner parent to one of my children. You accuse me of not wanting to spend time with my child because I would rather let him be some one else’s problem. That could not be further from the truth. My husband and I have four sons. I am room-mom, teach Sunday school, drive on field trips, have their friends over etc..We have a loving, traditional home. We LOVE our kids and spend LOTS of time with them. We have a difficult child. Does that mean we are not doing things wrong….NO…we are. We fall short each day and have prayed and read every book written for help in raising our son. He is not the typical child. He has dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, is a perfectionist etc….. So YES…we have sought help…pastors, trusted friends, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist. I don’t want to miss helping him in ANY way that I can. I need help to help him. I need help to understand him better. That is the problem with all of these parenting books and philosophies…….you just make judgements but don’t really know what you are talking about. Not seeking help for him would be wrong. Not seeking help would be much easier. Never getting him tested for dyslexia and leaving him in public school would have been easier and saved us thousands of dollars. It would have saved me hours and hours and hours of driving him 1.5 hours to school round trip each day. Not seeking help from pastors and friends would have saved me lots of emotional energy. Not seeking help from a psychologist and a psychiatrist would have saved me TONS of time and money. I don’t know how long you have been a parent or anything about your children…but keep doing this for long enough and have a couple more……you may be humbled. Eventually, you will be humbled. Parenting is a hard job and kids come wired in all sorts of packages……and YES…sometimes we need help…not to get rid of them BUT because we LOVE them….and if people didn’t seek out HELP….you would never sell a book! 

    • Tim Elmore on April 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

      It sounds like you are doing a great job as a parent to all 4 of your boys. Dry cleaner parents leave their children in the hands of professionals because they prefer it that way, not because they have a specific need. That doesn’t sound like you at all!

      Read my comment above about the purpose of the quiz and parent type articles. 

      Thanks for reading and taking time to give feedback. I wish you all the best!

  3. broken on October 4, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    being a bullied parent isnt easy,my daughter has bullied me for 6 yrs..ive been beaten,had my things destroyed and yes i had ago back,im no pushover but do you know what happened? i got arrested!!….ive had her arrested and sent to a young offenders institute,they gave her a flatscreen tv and dvds and munchies?? yea thats a punishment…youth offending orders just got extended but not followed up by youth offending teams even tag made no difference,she went out anyway and what did the courts do?? extend her order..doesnt help does it. authorities,teachers,parents..we have no right to defend ourselves..a kid comes up to you in the street and punches you ( a for instance) you push him,just push him.what happens?? you get arrested thats what happens..not all bullied parents lack backbone as you so eloquently put it,in fact for many of them its just the opposite,we have no rights thats the problem..they can do what they want to us and we can do what?? big fat nothing. thankyou

  4. Penny Stuckey Honodel on September 25, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Wow, how insulting to the person looking for help!!! Maybe the parent is tired, from being bullied from the bully father, who cheated, and left, who is doing their best to survive, their child who is a vulture!!!! After having fought so many battles with the Dad. For years realizing, he never loved you he just enjoyedcontrolling you. And you look for help, only to be torn down, some more bravo…!!!! #NOT

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Bullied Parents