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Feb
11

Parents who don’t have good parenting skills use aggression. Men who don’t have good relationship skills (like the father mentioned in the last post) use aggression to compensate for a whole range of things—and usually it’s their own inadequacies and fears.

I think that when you use aggression as a parenting style, it solves your short term problem of controlling children. But it leads to serious problems for those children and how they will grow up to deal with the adult world. This kind of parenting style basically gives them two choices: they can be a victim, because that’s the role they’ve been assigned in their family, or they can be aggressive/abusive, because that’s what was modeled for them by their father. Neither role increases the kid’s chance of developing his potential and creating a life that is successful.

We can always say people parent the way they were parented, but that’s not an excuse for not getting skills more suited to this day and age. I do think people can change. Most parents want the same things for their children, but they go about getting it in very different ways. My experience has been that when an aggressive or senselessly rigid parent learns other parenting skills, they’re in a better position to teach their children effective ways to manage the world around them.

One final note. Kids watch their parents all the time, and we are role models whether we’re conscious of it or not. To behave boorishly, antisocially or abusively in front of children does more harm than most parents realize. Talk is cheap. We have to model appropriate behavior if we are to expect it of our children.


     

If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

  • Working on it Says:

    James, thank you. My father was this type of guy, but with a lot of work, I’ve become a different kind of dad. Not perfect, but definitely respectful of my wife and kids.

  • Michelle Says:

    This sounds like my son. It’s sad because he grew up in a home where his father (who I divorced when he was 14) bullied him. I’ve tried to talk to my son but he doesn’t hear me. I’m going to send him this article.

  • Janine in Boulder Says:

    Bullying is wrong, period. Especially parents should think twice before they bully their kids.

  • Jenny Kozlowski Says:

    I sat behind a guy like this (the man yelling at his wife and kids in Pt. I of this post) at my son’s hockey match last week. I actually moved.

  • Beth Cecil Says:

    Thanks Dr Lehman for the tools I needed to help my 8 year old who has learned, from his father, aggression and power that there is another way to be. What a difference it makes for all of us!

  • Stop the Bullying cycle Says:

    I wish more fathers who were bullied as a child by their own father would learn that their repeating the abusiveness that bullying displays is unhealthy for their father/son relationship. It will diminish that bond faster than they think. Children , especially sons, need their fathers throughout their childhood and adolescence as a good role model and guidance to become a good man. If they are being bullied by thier own father, which brings mental, emotional, and psychological problems to the child, it will only alienate them from their father as they grow up. Those fathers will see that they actually need their children the older they get, so they better pay attention to the way they treat them, in order to hold onto them later in life, instead of pushing them away. It is unhealthy and harmful to the male child to not get the ‘attention, approval, and affection’ from their father, resulting in a good understanding of being loved by him.

  • justagram Says:

    I’ve been trying for 14 yrs. to stop my son-in-law from treating his oldest son in a mentally abusive, demeaning and humiliating manner. Nothing has worked. My daughter did, at one point, determine that family counseling would be sought — but never followed through because it was determined that it was “the child’s problem”. I’ve been very close to the family all these years and have assisted in the care of all 4 of their sons. It is devastating to me to see the effects of this in their now 18 yr. old son. He has lost himself — his behavior is that of his father’s in all of his personal dealings. He takes on his persona as a way, I guess, of finally gaining his approval — but is then put down for acting just like his father. My daughter is aware of all this, but chooses to sugarcoat it to maintain their “happy family image” and is turning against me for trying to help my grandson. Any help you can offer?

  • older sister Says:

    I have been saddened recently by seeing the way in which my own brother treats his middle boy, aged 15. He is different with him and seems to take out his own problems on this young person. This involves physical hitting. They are on the other side of the world to me and I fear for my nephew’s development. I feel that this is made worse by my brother drinking too much. My elderly mother who visited with me, is also sad about this as we are very fond of our nephew/grandson and we are worried about the lasting effects this will have on him. I am not sure what to do.

  • Middle child Says:

    My father died last week. Funny, I had been hoping for a LONG time that he would just drop dead. He finally did that very thing. I’m 45 years old, and I have only come to realize in the last few years how much of a bully my father actually was. I chose not to have children myself because I could not stand the thought of raising a child as I had been treated. I love my mother very much, and begrudge her NOTHING in my care of her. But I’m more glad than I can say that my father never needed me to care for him in his later years. Because I would NOT have been his caregiver.

    He actually bullied pretty much everyone in his life, both my older sister and my younger brother. But also my mother, his friends, his sister, and his own mother. I believe that he learned this behavior from his own father. After his death, I learned from his friends that he was often a bully to them as well.

    I sincerely believe that if this behavior is not stopped, and early on in a person’s life, it will slowly destroy or warp all relationships around that person. This is a very sad and destructive way to live.

  • The MOM Says:

    It is not always the father who is the bully. I grew up with a very controlling single mother. Thus, this had turned me into a controlling mother. I didn’t understand the difference between keeping your children under control versus bullying them to stay under control. God bless my new husband who has taught me that for the past 16 yrs, I had actually been bullying my children to behave. I am extremely, extremely blessed that none of my 3 children are bullies. They have “good” friends at school and at home. Their teachers rave about how well-behaved they are, respectful in class, and are always willing to help another student or faculty. I have recently apologized to my children for my years of reiiculous behavior, and that from now on, I will not act that way. However, I will still not let them get away with misbehaving. Just because I will be nicer, doesn’t mean I will become their doormat.
    Thanks for the article.

  • uncleduke316 Says:

    As usual the women are getting off the hook. I haven’t seen ONE POST from someone dealing with an aggressive, bullying mother and passive aggressive father. my relatives have described my mother as a bully when they were kids and she has 8/10 of the signs of s controlling parent. my dad was screwed over by his mother and his father was emotionally distant because he didn’t want to deal with her crap.
    can we hear from the other side? it’s different when the bully is your mother because women know how to manipulate relationships.
    we also see this on tv:
    marie ramano on everybody loves raymond, rosanne, malcolm in the middle. when it’s the WOMAN we call it “empowerment”. it’s the natural result of the society the left wingers have created since the seventies.

  • Sean Says:

    My mother bullied myself and my brother while spoiling our sister. My dad was out getting drunk all the time when we were kids, when he was home and sober he was also very aggressive and you’d be scared to open your mouth. My mother’s abuse was much worse though: physical – she’d beat us with a wooden spoon and slap our faces; emotional – she’d break down in tears and it would be our fault, she would constantly threaten to leave with our sister leaving us with our useless drunkard of a father. The worst thing was probably the lies, anything she ever did she’d deny it happened, I remember coming home from school I was probably about 7 or 8 and she’d been through my diary. She was screaming in my face that it was all lies, she didn’t care what she said or did to us so long as we were too scared to question her. I remember her grunting in my face saying I was a pig when I was very small, there is no reason for this other than pure cruelty and if I ever tried to raise this she’d deny it. [ ] totally destroyed my confidence and broke my will and even now I bet she has no conscience at all about it.

  • victimized Says:

    I am the only boy in my family. My Mother bullied me from age 10 onward. My father was never around, and she would abuse me physically, emotionally and verbally. To this day I have trouble opening up to anybody because I feel if my own mother could hurt me so much, what will anybody else do to me. I think a controlling mother is worse than a controlling father because you just expect mothers to be more understanding and at least listen to you.

  • Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor Says:

    Dear ‘victimized’:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It is a reflection of how abusive parenting can have a lasting effect on kids. It can be hard to have clear thinking around your mother’s interactions to you, to realize that she was the problem and not you. Kids naturally assume, “There must be something wrong with me or my Mom would love me more.” The truth is that your Mom had some emotional problems and was limited in what she could offer you. I’m not excusing her. I’m suggesting that realizing that she was limited in what she could offer you as a parent might help you change any anger to grief then understanding. It is very sad for kids when this happens. You deserved better.

  • macmoon Says:

    my mom used physical force and verbal abuse to keep us in line. i’m her first born of three, and her only daughter. i’m grown and married now, with a family of my own. my mother may no longer use physical force, but she still uses her words and tone to intimidate me into submission, as if i was still a young child. it drives her crazy that i no longer fear her so now she has become more hostile towards me, even in public. i can’t tell you how many tears i’ve cried because of her venomous tongue, almost preferring the physical abuse. at least the sting of a slap goes away. but the scars in my heart and soul, forever live in my nightmares. i’ve stopped interacting with her all together. i’ve accepted that she can’t give me what i need. i’m still working on forgiving myself for my high expectations of her. after all, she is only human.

  • Lynn Says:

    My mother is a controlling parent to this day. She is a daughter’s nightmare — not terribly reliable, very aggressive, hostile, distant, and judgmental. At the same time, she’s able to camouflage some of her actions so that they appear reasonable and well intentioned. It’s very painful. I keep praying that a small dog like Toto will come and pull the curtain away from my mother and will come so that more people will be comfortable speaking up. At best, I think she lives more out of a sad way to live and raise kids rather than making any choices of her own. Thanks to those who wrote in earlier.

    Thanks to those who wrote in earlier.

  • Shan Says:

    My older brother was a bully who was encouraged by my parents- they knew it was happening and they joined in indirectly- telling how stupid I was, always camparing me to my older brother, ridiculing and making fun of me, putting me down whenever there were other people- always blaming me when things went wrong. As for my brother he was the eldest, intelligent and approved by everyone-everything he did and said was right-he was great. My parents put me through hell along with my brother- bullying isn’t about low self esteem-it’s about high estemm, pride and arrogance- that’s how my bro felt- I still remember the sniggers and sneers, and hurtful remarks. I’m 39 but still have trouble forgetting the past- I have forgiven my brother and my father- but it’s hard to do so for my mother- she puts me down now to control me- this is the way of the world I suppose. I used to suffer from a whole range of emotional problems and have failed at everything I have done with no real friends. I don’t want children-which is a good thing as I don’t think I could handle them. Anyway, with alternative healing methods like reiki, spiritual healing, angel healing and pranic healing I am learning to let go of the hurt, humiliation and resentment from the past so that I can forgive everyone and forget. I do this b ecause to move on in life I need to let go and heal. From our past hurts we can learn how to become wonderful care considerate people!

  • dee1153 Says:

    I need some help in dealing with this. My daughter has been relentlessly bullied by a girl in her middle school. I found a post on this girl’s Facebook page in which she said that her dad told her to trick my daughter into the school bathroom and “beat her ass and then walk out like nothing happened.” It’s evident that this dad will not respond to any kind of reasoning, so I haven’t contacted him. I feel like I need police intervention. Can I press charges against this man? The school has done everything they can to protect my daughter. This, IMO, has gone far beyond classic bullying to something much more serious.

  • Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor Says:

    Dear ‘dee115e’:

    Your daughter certainly has had a terrible experience. No one deserves to be bullied. It’s important that these types of threats and bullying incidents are brought to the schools attention when they happen at school. In some cases parents do contact police and/or seek legal counsel. Refer to this web site for more answers on what steps to take and how to get support: http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/default.aspx Stop Bullying Now. We wish your family the best.

  • A Son Says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I wish my father had known how to parent better if only so he could be more involved in my life. He was aggressive in his inability to communicate well or meet my emotional needs.

  • stepmum Says:

    Women are bullies too. My 12 year old stepdaughter is dealing with a smear campaign brought about by her 36 year old mother…who is married to a 20 year old guy. She is aggressive and rude to everyone. And she had been arrested for assaulting her ex now my husband in front of the kids.

  • recovering Says:

    I was abused by my family. From these stories shared here, I can relate to them all, but I relate most to Shan.

    It took me decades of my life before it dawned on me that I had been abused and bullied by family.

  • hermom Says:

    So what do you do when your child has visitation with a bullying parent? How do you help her cope without becoming a victim or a bully? I see my daughter’s self-esteem deflating and depression setting in and can definitely see her taking on a victim role. Of course her bullying dad doesn’t see a problem.

  • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To ‘hermom’: It’s a tough situation when your child is being bullied, and even more so when the bully is her parent. We recommend taking a proactive role with your daughter around her visits with her dad. Talk about situations she may encounter, and make a plan for what she can do that will make her feel comfortable. Depending on your daughter’s age, it might be helpful to role play and practice these scenarios with her. Of course, if you are concerned for your daughter’s safety while she is visiting her dad, we encourage you to look into local supports to help you both deal with that. A good place to start is http://www.211.org. 211 is an informational service that can help to connect you with resources in your area. You can also reach them by calling 1 (800) 273-6222. I am including a link to an article on bullying you might find useful. Although this article focuses more on peer-to-peer bullying in a school setting, I think you might be able to find some helpful information as well: Is Your Child Being Bullied? 9 Steps You Can Take as a Parent. Good luck to you and your daughter as you continue to work through this; we know this isn’t easy.

  • Nick Says:

    I was bullied mercilessly by my mother. I am 57 years old and I still expect the worst. I enjoy tremendous anxiety and rarely get a break from that.
    Somehow I was able to raise two daughters that feel good about themselves. They have never been struck or emotionally abused and they are turning out great so far.
    I started out parenting them they way I was parented – which i thought was effective. But I could not deal with my young daughters being afraid of me so I knew I had to change my ways. And I did. Now my teenage daughters are doing well in school and socially and I am a very proud parent!
    But I still expect no one to like or accept me and that’s every day.

  • oliver Says:

    My mum is generous and forgiving generally, but she always has this bite in her just waiting for the slightest provocation. It’s like she has this discontent and hostility which she can’t express openly, but whenever she has a chance she’ll take it to take a dig at me. If I talk to her, she’ll quickly get impatient like I’m wasting her time, and even if she asked me a question and I help her with the answer, once my answer extends from 10seconds to the minute mark she’ll tell me she’s not a captive audience. If I say something and abbreviate a word or don’t pronounce every word she’ll point it out and then take the issue one or two steps further like it was some major faux pas or embarassment- despite the fact it is always just me and her at home, no one else is present. These are all little things, but it’s the tone that kills me. How can you talk down to, treat your son like that? I never answer back or react despite being well into adulthood. The thing is, I don’t talk much with her, so these instances when she’s getting hot tempered with me for talking more than the time needed to answer a question are really the only times I interact with her. I just walk away and if I don’t dwell on it I find I can be normal with her after only an hour or two, but everytime she does this to me it hurts me, and I know that one day I’m probably going to react to it. I love my mum, and she worked hard by herself to get me to good schools, but when stuff like this happens it makes me think I can’t live with her or spend any appreciable time with her at home. Like I said, I do have this love for her which comes from appreciation of what she’s done, but she doesn’t verbalise her love or show it physically and neither do I, it’s just an assumed unspoken truth, but considering she’s not an openly warm or loving person, I feel it’s even more important she doesn’t use this tone when she talks to me, becauase quite literally the way she talks to me is the only interaction I have with her and the negativity just makes me feel like it’s wounding my soul to be in such a relationship.

  • want to change Says:

    Although in a very mild and non-physical way, I want to admit that I use the bullying style with my children. I couldn’t be more ashamed of it, and desperately want to change it.

    I seem to keep going round in a circle where I become aware, feel extremely guilty, I apologize and promise to myself I will never act in such a way again. But somehow seem to end up doing it again. I want to break the pattern for once and for all, but I don’t seem able or know how to do it.

    Can somebody please give me some advise on how to change?
    I know you probably despise me for it and think why should I bother to help such horrible person. I certainly do hate myself for it. And I agree there should be no justification for such behaviour.

    I want to stop and need help. Can somebody tell me what to do or what to read to work towards improving?

  • Noldus Says:

    My father was always angry, yelling and threatening. We were not even allowed to disagree with him, no matter how small a detail. If we did, he said he would beat the crap out of us, and it was not an empty threat. Sometimes he would be furious for no reason, and later pretend that nothing had happened. Our mother tried to control every aspect of our life, and threatened us to tell our father if we did not do as she said. Privacy was never an option. We were not allowed to talk at the dinner table, and we were always told how embarrased out parents were and how ashamed over us. They often talked to us, but never with us. We were forced to agree with everything they said.

    We were three brothers, now we are just two since one of us commited suicide a few years ago. When we were younger, he started to hang out with the wrong people, doing some burglary at the local stores and such, and because they are selfish, we all moved from a small town to a big city where he found even worse company and started doing drugs and such. Why? Because our parents was hoping for anonymity in a larger city. I am now 40, and have nothing; I’m still a virgin, no friends, no education, no job and no life. My other brother is enormously obese, he can barely walk, few friends and no education, aleayd complaying about everything, stuck in dead-end job which never lasts for long, and have always plans that never leads to anything.

    In family photos, one will notice that we smile when we are very young, but after we have reached the teenage years, our faces always looks serious.

    My parents are divorced today, and even if I meet my mother now and then, I have no contact with my fahter. In his eyes, I have done nothing wrong, I’m the one who is cruel who don’t have anything to do with him.

  • D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To “Noldus”: Thank you for taking the time to share your personal experience of having parents who bullied. It takes a lot of courage to open up about one’s past and convey how difficult it was to grow up in such a household. We commend you for having the strength and fortitude to be able to share your story with Empowering Parents and our readers. If you should find yourself in need of any type of local support, there is a great service available. The 2-1-1 National Helpline is designed to help people find resources in their specific area, such as help finding a job, housing or if you just need someone to talk to. You can reach 2-1-1 by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting http://www.2-1-1.org. We wish you luck as you continue on your journey. Take care.

  • Cindy63 Says:

    I am 49 yrs old and was bullied by my dad all through my childhood, he would tell me I was adopted which made me cry at that point he would laugh and say “she’s gonna cry,watch here it comes I see a tear” or his favorite was to tap my elbow during dinner so I could not get my fork to my mouth then laugh when I would cry and leave the table, his unrelenting attempts to make me cry were never ending, I don’t know why he did it nor at this point do I care, what I do know is now that I am older and have spoken with other family members about this I was not crazy, it was as bad as I thought it was, I have learned it was not my fault but his own demons he needed to deal with, after moving away and getting married 26 yrs ago,I now have 2 grown girls and a wonderful granddaughter whom are a huge part of my life and I have to think how sad it is that because of the childhood issues I find it best that my parents be kept at arms length away from my kids and myself,I often feel guilty that I don’t see my dad (now dying from Leukemia) very often, because to not care for someone so ill is so not like me, but for my own mental health I have to keep distance between us, as I have told my family “Dad can’t give me what I want from him once he is dead, I just want him to apologize” but he is determined it never happened the way we all saw it, as a 18 yr old child I had to put conditions on what is suppose to be the one unconditional love in this world the love of a parent and that’s what hurts the most

  • Patricia Says:

    I’m very against bullying of any type in the schools, whether it be verbal or physical…
    Last week a mother related to me that her 12 year old daughter was a called a ‘bitch’ by a boy in her class, the child came home and told her mom what happened and asked her mother if it was ok to ‘punch him in the face for saying that’, the mother told me that she told her daughter, it was ok!!! I was totally disgusted with what she said. As far as i’m concerned two wrongs does not make a right. And we wonder why it’s hard to stop bullying altogether, when you have parents out there who don’t know how to teach their children about bullies , let alone they’re teaching them to bully!
    I related this question to many people and I had 1 out of 5 agreed with me!

    wow!

  • Mary Says:

    I am the youngest of six girls. My parents had a really bad marriage. I was verbally abused by both parents, my mother nonstop (I was her constant companion). I grew up believing I was one of God’s mistakes. She died when I was 30. I began to build some level of self esteem. I kept my father’s belittling under control. (I was the only one in Florida, my sisters in Michigan). My father’s constant belittling is now constant. Two of my sisters are now in the area. One ‘contributes’ to the problem. At 55, I have finally decided to have as little contact with him as I can.

    I never had a real boyfriend. I was involved with a married man since age 23 for almost 30 years. It was easier.

    I also have tremendous anxiety and rarely get a break from that. I expect EVERYONE to run me down. What I feel the most is shame, anger and rage.

  • James Says:

    Reading this has made me think back to my childhood, (I’m 21 now). Looking back now I realised that I was raised in a very destructive household. When I was born my mum suffered from post-natal depression, also 6 weeks later her mother died, so she went through a very deep depression for a long time. When I was 6 my dad had a mild stroke, it wasn’t too serious he’s fine. It just messed up his memory for a few years, and he couldn’t control his temper. But he used to physically beat me at times, so did my mum. It wasn’t abuse as such, I was just a difficult child and they used to react in a blind rage. This has left me riddled with anxiety throughout my teens, being hard of hearing has not helped either.

    My dad would ALWAYS blame me for anything/everything that went wrong. If a radiator started leaking in his house, he will somehow try to trace it back to me, even if I was 50 miles away at the time. He’s not interested in having a conversation with me unless it’s to tell me to clean the house. My mum is very distant at times. If I ever try to talk to her, I’m just “distracting” her from watching coronation street or reading the newspaper. She would stop me midway through my sentence and say “Leave me alone”. She is very clever with her words and she will say very nasty things to me that would hit me inside. For some reason, she has told me I would never get a girlfriend (she was in a bad mood that day). She has never, ever admitted to being wrong about anything. If she has messed something up then it’s my fault somehow, or my dads’.

    I’m 21 now and I’m clearly damaged by how they both have treated me. I’ve never had a real relationship because I don’t think I’m good enough for anyone. I’m getting more and more isolated within myself. I am absolutely desperate to get away from the both of them. All they have ever done is hurt me, physically and mentally. They make me feel as worthless as anything and I’m tired of it. I just want to stop all contact with them because they don’t give me what I want.

  • Shonenknife Says:

    I learned my parenting skills from seeing what my parents did wrong, working at a daycare and watching Super Nanny. So far, it works like a charm!

  • Side Effects Unknown By Parents « Lessen the Aggression Says:

    [...] Here is another article on the Web that can teach parents about the side effects that aggressive parenting can have on children. Being an aggressive parent can lead to your children becoming aggressive parents as well. Instead of being aggressive and showing children the wrong way to behave, try showing them how to be a loving and caring person so that they know how to behave in the future. No one wants to see their children end up the way that they were, especially if they had problems in the past. So start today to help change both you and your children’s future. It’ll be much more worth it in the end.[...]

  • shireen Says:

    I recently came across a few articles on bullying and how it affects people involved. I am a 27 year old female. I come from a conservative eastern culture. However, growing up I always felt that my parents were more severe than those of my friends. My dad a very busy job and was never a willing worker, so all he was bothered about most of his life was getting to work. I never got to spend enough time with him. My mom was mostly around to control me and my sister as children. Being a predominantly single parent, she was always very aggressive (specially when I was 10 – 18 years old). I always gave her the benefit of doubt since she was going through menopause. Until the age of 23 years, I was looked down upon and humiliated by my mother if I hang out with my friends or do anything to enjoy life outside my family environment. I was expected to enjoy life while staying indoors…. This was impossible ! I was never allowed to have guy friends, I had one boyfriend when I was 19 till 22, and I never told my parents about this guy for their fear. They always laid so much stress on personal development, education and intellectual growth, but failed to understand that a child needs the space to make mistakes if he/she has to grow in the right direction. I was never given the space to make mistakes ! One mistake, and hell would break loose.

    My mom had a difficult childhood – she lost her dad when she was 9 and her mother was not educated, or strong enough to take a stand. She was brought up by her extended family who treated her like a second class citizen till she was 22 and found a stable job. If I would disagree with my mom on anything, she would describing how people around her made her always made her life miserable since she was a child, and how I am making her life more miserable by giving her such a hard time. I was so naive and stupid, that just to end the argument, and the pain it brought, I would agree to whatever she would say. By the time I was 22 I felt suicidal and started praying to God to either end my life or take me away from home. That is when my destiny worked like magic and saved me. The fact that my parents valued education and development a lot made them finance my education to Canada, and that one decision changed my life. I was away from them for two years straight, and discovered who I was. It was not until now that I realized that I had probably been bullied all my life.

    I am 27 now, I have had an amazing boyfriend for 3 years. He taught me to be patient with my parents since they provided for me all my life and made me the person I am today. However, my parents and my sister they hate him, because he follows a different religion. My mom told me she would cutoff relations with me for the rest
    of my life if I settle down with that guy. They fail to see how nice a person he is. Unlike my parents, I never had to hide anything from my bf, he is very supportive of everything I do and very very loving and extremely patient with me. I would never trade him for anything in life.

    Was I bullied by my mom all my adult years ?