Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]

Should Children Fear Their Parents

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Children learn to fear their parents. Fear is the fastest way to compliance.

If you want the fastest, the most immediate, the most mind-searing method to compliance with the least amount of mental and emotional effort, fear gets you there.

Children are weak. Fear works immediately to make them do – or stop – something. You don’t need to bother with explaining or reasoning or teaching. Fear will teach boundaries where words cannot.

Children are small. Fear comes naturally when they see towering adults who can inflict pain — real, anticipated, and/or imagined. Fear will shut down questions where patience cannot.

Fear of rejection, fear of physical punishment, fear of abandonment, fear of emotional torture. There are so many types of fear to choose from… parents opting fear to seal their relationships with children can — and do combine these means of fear to achieve their goals.

When you use fear as your weapon of choice, you inflict no visible wounds, so your actions cannot be seen or judged by others. You do not have to beat your children, you can emotionally torture children. Threaten abandonment or throw away their most prized possessions… break it in front of them and make them pick it up with their bare hands and make them throw the pieces in the trash. See if next time they dare to dissent or rebel.

As the children grow older, they learn to inflict fear upon themselves. Parents don’t even have to keep inflicting fear at this point, fear is on cruise control.

broken ice by girinath gopinath

broken ice by girinath gopinath


Children who have internalized this fear may show severe anxiety or stress or self-harming behaviors. Children who have externalized this fear “act out”, rebel, bully, and otherwise pour their fear outward.

They learn to hide their failures to protect themselves from more fear.

They learn to cheat and lie to keep up the facade in their life of fear.

They learn to cut or medicate themselves, big pain to counter bigger pain.

Some of them return this fear to their parents. Others pick smaller, weaker targets. After all, they have learned this from their parents, bullies whom they can’t help but love and loathe.

Some of them so hate themselves, they feel as if they have no choice but to extinguish themselves from life.

There are some who escape this fear and they become aware of what has happened to them. Maybe they spend the rest of their lives healing and learning how to be healthy again.

There are some who have not known this kind of fear but came to love a person who survived this fear. Maybe they get to taste this fear as adults.

Maybe new children are brought into this world and maybe the cycle continues.

I won’t argue why children “should” or “shouldn’t” fear their parents. Living things fear what is physically bigger and appear more powerful than them. Fear comes with us as a survival mechanism, to keep us alive.

If you stuck through this imaginary horror show, you may see that I took a different approach to this question: possible outcomes when fear seals the fate between a parent and a child.

Parents decide whether these outcomes are worth the quickness of compliance or silence from rebellion that fear guarantees.

The alternative is so much more work.

Endless patience.

Constant self-doubt and questioning. “Could I have handled this a different way?”

And a parent’s intense “self-work” and in many cases, healing from past harms of fear, facing our personal demons, all in order to become a good steward of the physical and emotional well-being of small humans we have brought through life.

  • Sumi Allen

    I’m back. I was debating the overbearing clingy mother- because my tiger mom is being so nasty because she’s lonely and miserable. She recently had surgery, my dad isn’t 100% healthy. THey don’t try to heal themselves, they’re codependent on the doctors.
    I recently tried to pull my act together in Los Angeles and ran into so many problems that I gave up. My car was towed in Westwood for parking 4 inches in a fire zone, my car was vandalized twice when I was living in Koreatown, I was assaulted twice by black thugs (different ones) in Koreatown, I got a $500 ticket for running a red light in heavy traffic in Culver City going to a recruiters’ office, etc. I sought counselling after the first attack until I had to interrupt with temp work to pay the bills. I was driving 2 hours each way for a temp assignment to put up with thugs. The cost of rent keeps going up, it’s very hard to make ends meet and I deal with discrimination from Koreans because I’m not Korean enough. I also deal with prediabetes and the latest ailment is sciatic nerve in my hip. So I’ve already got problems and most people use their families until they get back on their feet.
    I had to go home, technically “uninvited”. I still flinch when people walk behind me, I do have anxiety and scars on my face from the incidents.

    During my therapy sessions, the conversations revolved around my parents, especially since I need them?? My tiger mom doesn’t have a grip on reality for me. She’s probably blaming me for the assaults or mad that she didn’t cause them herself.

    My dad understands to an extent but he hasn’t been sympathetic. They’re trying to force me to get on my own through negative reinforcement instead of constructive guidance. A lot of people around here get work through nepotism.

    My parents have been violent towards me in the past. My parents do follow through on harsh threats, to “teach her a lesson”. My dad had tried to force me into the U.S.military- I didn’t get in for health reasons and the @$$hole recruiter just libeled me to my “helicopter” parents when they purposely pushed my buttons.

    My mom is framing me now, she’s talking about throwing money at my “nursing degree” even though I didn’t indicate that I wanted to be a nurse. It’s very expensive, I already have a bachelor’s in finance and worked in Accounting. Although I went through temp jobs, I actually found the accounting work kind of easy. There’s just stuff t know ie. GAAP, SOX, Sarbanes oxley… I should be up for CPA except that I can’t get into a Big 4 and it’s expensive. My dad said so. I think that I should get it sponsored if anyone requires it, but I have competition and I’m discriminated against because I have an Asian name.

    I can’t even think about making career changes- I’m worried about walking on eggshells around my parents and I literally have NOBODY. This is life. I have NOBODY.

    My mom’s Korean relatives have been so wonderful to her, making a long trip to bring loads of Korean food and cheer to help her after that surgery. It’s “culture” but the effort and the care was genuine. I would never get this love and support from family- she has no frickin’ clue of what she has to be grateful for.

    I’m rather upset that she had me in the first place. If you have no intention of even caring for your own kid, then why did you become a parent in the first place?!!!

    Busan Korea is notorious for people who communicate with “fight conversations”. She has been so mean and miserable, that when I drive away I’m literally screaming. Things have been very bad for me and I’m afraid of my parents. I can’t communicate with them.

    Then I’m framed if I’m in a bad mood- she already threatened to make me live in my car. No mercy. They threw me out on my 19th birthday- back then I was blessed because I already had a job and the cost of living index was a lot more feasable.

    I’m a meal ticket to the visa sponsor baby beating b*.

    I have no rescue, no safety net. “shelters” in California are DANGEROUS. There’s a criminal element that got worse since Prop 47 passed, I can’t explain this to my mom. Not that she cares anyways- she will blame me for it. She’s blamed me for the economy, everything is my fault…she shifts goalposts….it’s not okay. The minute she has a tantrum she can make a HUGE mess! She’s literally a psycho. I NEED the help. I don’t know where to go. Victim’s compensation doesn’t come through in California. Criminals don’t pay for the damage caused to me and my car – I was struggling in between temp jobs. There’s no safety net. Only problems.

    My life has been nothing but anger, hurt, pain, fear, pain, fear, pain, fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment — more hurt, more pain, more fear, fear, fear, pain,anger, hopelessness, fear, pain; all reinforced by my family.

    Again, California is very expensive and California is very dangerous. My roots are in San Diego, I grew up in Ohio because my dad was in the Air Force.

    I don’t know why I exist except that I was used for immigration purposes.
    You could really make a psychological thriller about my life. People politicize race relations but allow things like this to go on.

    How are you supposed to handle a rabid frenzy crazy out of control tantrum psycho when I’m in a position of need??