Why Parents Bully Their Children

One of the strangest and saddest phenomena of psychological life is that there are parents, too many parents, who end up – while sometimes only half realising it – bullying their own children. The bullying may take many forms. Why do parents bully their children?

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“One of the strangest and saddest phenomena of psychological life is that there are parents, too many parents, who end up – while sometimes only half realising it – bullying their own children.
The bullying may take many forms. Why do parents bully their children? In short, in order to try to feel better about themselves. Because they suffer intensely in the very same area that they are bullying their child in. If we, as children, want to know what our parents were afraid of or haunted by, we only need to ask: in what areas did they bully me? What did they make me feel scared or inadequate about? Someone made them feel awful and they surmise – by twisted logic – that they will feel better through the process of making their own child feel very bad indeed; they aren’t doing it personally, the child is collateral damage to a misguided project of healing and attenuation of symptoms. It doesn’t make any sense of course, but it may actually work for the parent, for a time.”

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Produced in collaboration with:

Mike Booth

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