Can Parents Be Bullies?

Do you think it’s possible for parents to be bullies? I think my parents are the biggest bullies I have in my life. They constantly belittle me and make me feel bad for any little thing I do. I get hit, I can’t make any arguments with them otherwise I’m just “talking back,” but every time they get mad they just talk shit about me in front of my face as if it doesn’t hurt and scar me emotionally. And probably worst of all, they said they wouldn’t love me if I was a certain sexual orientation other than straight. No one has ever made me feel as bad as my parents, and I feel like I have to work for everything I own. I’m constantly in trouble, and sometimes I wish I was simply gone because of all of this. Any advice as to how to handle this?
17 and Tired
Dear 17 and Tired,
It sounds like you are in an abusive situation. Yes, parents can be bullies too, but I think a better word to describe what you’re going through is abuse. In order to stop the cycle of violence, which includes physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, all of which you mentioned dealing with, you need to reach out for help. Is there an adult family member such as an aunt, uncle, or grandparent that you could talk to about this? I know you’re probably on summer break right now, but maybe you can contact a trusted teacher, coach, or school counselor. You can also Google “low cost teen counseling” or “teen support services” with the name of your city to find a place that you can call to set up an appointment with someone who can help you work through these difficult issues.
If you feel unsafe in your home due to physical violence, then can you stay with a family member or friend? Every person, including you, deserves to be in a place where they feel physically and emotionally safe. 
You also said that your parents told you they wouldn’t love you if you aren’t straight. Many teens who are questioning their sexuality or who already know that they aren’t straight struggle with parents who are homophobic. Thankfully, there are many resources out there today to help teens and their families in LGBTQ community. Everyone deserves support, respect, and love, and organizations such as The Trevor Project, which is a suicide prevention organization, provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Trevor Project is specifically geared towards LGBTQ people and their straight allies from ages 13 to 24. They provide many different services to remind you that you aren’t alone. These services include: suicide prevention with a hotline run by trained counselors that you can call 24/7, counseling via instant messaging or texting, and a large online social network for LGBTQ people.
Thank you for reaching out to me with this difficult issue. It is never okay for parents to physically abuse and emotionally belittle their child. But if you get help now, you are changing the power imbalance by giving yourself the support that you deserve so that you can recognize your own worth.
For more information/resources:
“Why Does Abuse Happen?” Article from TeenHealth Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
PFLAG: An organization made up of parents, families, friends, and allies of LGBT people. It’s mission is to provide support, education, and advocacy. PFLAG has over 350 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters in the U.S.
Child/Family Abuse Hotline: Child Help USA at (800) 4-A-CHILD or (800) 422-4453

2 thoughts on “Can Parents Be Bullies?

  1. 17 and tired, Kara has given you some great advice and hope that it is helpful. But the biggest thing I hope you get from her response is that you are not alone. Friends are the family that we get to choose. Blood makes you related but love makes a family. So never think that just because your family doesn’t accept you, doesn’t mean others won’t. I am blessed with supportive parents so I do not exactly know what you could do in this situation but all I can leave off with is that you need to be hopeful, and love those around you but most importantly… love yourself.
    best of luck ❤


    1. Thank you for your comment, Kat. I agree with your supportive message. it’s nice to know that other teens like you care, and good point about friends being the family you choose.


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