The bully is the teen that says “No” every single time, and then leaves the parent with no options as to how to respond. The bully is the child who threatens to live somewhere else, often with the former spouse of the custodial parent. The bully is the one running the house, either because the parents can’t fulfill their roles (as in the case of parents with untreated mental conditions) or because the parent has given that child or teen too much power.
In this Psychology Today article, Dr. Susan Newman interviews therapist Sean Grover, author of When Kids Call the Shots: How to Seize Control from Your Darling Bully — and Enjoy Being a Parent Again, recalls when he was bullied by his own daughter: “When I stopped trying to fix or change my child, and explored my own role in fostering her bullying behaviors, I found the answers I needed. Her behaviors were a direct consequence of my own insecurities.”
What kind of parents are most likely to allow bullying?
Grover explains: “The true cause [of bullying] springs from parents’ own histories—how they were parented, their childhood experiences, and the modeling that their parents provided. These are the true causes. Were they bullied as children by their own parents? Did they grow up with an absent or neglectful parent? Did they have a narcissistic parent? These are questions parents want to explore.”
Three parenting styles are most likely to trigger bullying in children.
- The guilty parent. Something has gone wrong—a divorce, an illness, a financial hardship—and now the parent feels guilty. To ease their guilt they give their kids too much freedom and not enough limits. This always backfires.
- The anxious parent. This is a parent who is always worrying and expressing anxiety. Children experience a parent’s anxiety as, “I don’t believe in you,” “I don’t trust you,” or “you’re not a capable person,” and this triggers a lot of anger and resentment toward the parent.
- The fix-everything parent. These parents can’t stand to see their children frustrated and constantly step in and solve problems for them. Such parents have good intentions and are often heroic, but the outcome is horrendous. The child remains dependent on the parents and unconsciously resents them for it. They are never satisfied. In fact, the more you give them, the less they appreciate you. Children have a natural drive for independence that needs to be encouraged. The fix-everything parent discourages it and therefore dwarfs the emotional development of their own child. Children of fix-everything parents have a tendency to age but not mature.
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I would also recommend my book, How To Train Your Parents in 6-1/2 Days for insights into parenting pitfalls and how teens perceive their parents.
Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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