Pushover Parents

Parents are supposed to be the authorities for their children, but these parents may not be good at it. They usually mean well, but when it comes to disciplining their children, they are too afraid or refuse to for any reason.

If this goes on, the kid usually turns into a Spoiled Brat/Bratty Half-Pint with bad social skills.

Obviously, Truth in Television.

If they do, infact, discipline their child, then this will lead to Was Too Hard on Him.

Can be related to Stupid Good if parents love their children too much because of it. Compare Free-Range Children, where children are unusually independent (but are generally still subject to some ground rules). Contrast Good Parents who love their children, but know when it's necessary to draw the line in disciplining them. Also contrast Abusive Parents where parents love punishing their children. Contrast My Beloved Smother, when the parent goes the opposite extreme and doesn't know when to back off.

Compare to Extreme Doormat.


  • A Judge Dee fanfic uses this: a young boy with many facial tics, whose father seems completely indifferent, never beating or praising him, while his mother alternates between love and hate. It turns out the man was sterile, so his wife slept with another man to conceive (which, in eight-century China, was a horrifying crime, both the adultery and the fact that the husband did nothing against it). Ever since, the father doesn't punish the boy for fear of going too far, the mother is constantly reminded that she failed as a wife, and as a result the poor boy is growing up very confused.
  • While it's not outwardly stated in the story, The Conversion Bureau: Conquer the Stars does explicitly say that the Newfoals, being Extreme Doormats, are not very good parents. Although they are loving and caring towards their children (who are born normal and with the full range of emotions), because the Newfoals have lost their capacity for anger and their ability to be assertive, it's really not difficult to imagine an entire generation of ponies that are spoiled to the point of making Diamond Tiara look like Mother Theresa.
    • It's even one character's Freudian Excuse- her Newfoal parents just couldn't deal with her firey personality.
  • The Homestuck fanfic Moirailegiance is Science mentions that Eridan's lusus actually played a role in turning him into such a Royal Brat. His parenting style was basically "Make the troll happy, and nothing works, tail-whip him,"

  • George Mcfly in Back to the Future is a pushover, not so much in disciplining his kids (Marty, while in the past, asks them to go easy on their 8 year old son if he sets the rug on fire, implying he was disciplined for doing such a thing), but when it comes to getting pushed around by people outside the family, especially Biff as he totaled George's car and George didn't even try to stand up for himself. By the end of the movie, Marty's events in the past cause this trait to go completely away.
  • In Girls Just Want to Have Fun, millionaire Bennett Sands basically lets his daughter Natalie do what she wants (until the end), making her a Rich Bitch.
  • Regina George's mom in Mean Girls has shades of this, as shown in a scene when Regina tells her mother to stop talking, and she stops.

  • In It's a Good Life (and the Twilight Zone episodes) the parents are pushovers because the kid has dangerous psychic powers.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Veruca Salt's parents, who have spoiled her rotten to the point that her father would rather just buy her whatever she wants no matter how outrageous just so he won't have to put up with her tantrums. It is shown at the end of the 2005 film adaptation that Mr. Salt does learn to say "no" to her though, subverting this ultimately.
  • In the Harry Potter series, the Dursleys utterly spoil Dudley. As a baby, it's mentioned that he was seen "kicking his mother up and down the street, screaming for sweets" and as a child, he's constantly pacified by being bribed with gifts (his father considers this a good thing, that his son wants his "money's worth"), seems too never be scolded for breaking or abandoning said gifts, and gets away with bullying all the time. His parents overlook school reports on his bad behavior and weight issues (at least until the third book, when he reaches "roughly the same size and weight as a small killer whale", and even then Petunia still gives Dudley as large portions of food as she can get away with). The only notable times when he doesn't get his way are in the first book, when panic over Harry getting his Hogwarts letter overrules the Dursleys' desire to spoil their son, and the aforementioned diet regime. It gets to be so bad that when Dumbledore visits the family in the sixth book, he notes that their treatment of Dudley is, in a way, even worse abuse than what they inflicted on Harry.
    • Zig-zagged with Malfoy's father. He's definitely spoiled and his father uses his wealth and power to pull off some absurd displays of favoritism for his son (among them buying top-of-the-line brooms for the entire Slytherin Quidditch team just to get Malfoy a position on it and forcing the Board of Governors to agree to execute Buckbeak). On the other hand, the first time Lucius Malfoy appears in the series, he's shown ordering his son not to touch anything in the shop they're in, refusing Malfoy's request for a present, making a snide comment about Malfoy's grades, and then scolding him for academically coming in second to a Muggleborn like Hermione Granger.
  • In Beastly, this is all but stated to be one of the reasons Kyle ended up such a jerkass. His mother left when he was little and his rich father's idea of parenting is to throw money at Kyle for whatever he asks for. His father seems too busy to bother with anything Kyle gets up to, but it's implied that the times Kyle did get in enough trouble that his father noticed, his dad just pulled strings and payed money to smooth it over.
  • Bella Swan's father is one of the most laid-back parents, hands-off parents around. Throughout the series, Bella continuously ignores the rules he sets, particularly the ones about him not wanting Edward over all the time, and he either doesn't notice or doesn't do anything about it. This gets pretty absurd in New Moon (when he makes one heartfelt effort to get Bella to see sense and move on past Edward but drops the subject when she refuses to talk about it) and Breaking Dawn (when Bella strongarms him into accepting her getting married at 18 and squashes his argument that maybe she and Edward are a little too young to be raising a child).

Live Action TV
  • Shown many times in Maury with violent teenage girls, with parents (usually only moms) who are terrified of their daughters, and are afraid of disciplining them.
  • Gloria Mott from American Horror Story: Freak Show was rather neglectful when her son Dandy was a baby. Now that he's grown up a sociopath, she's unable to control him.
    • In It's Still A Good Life (the sequel of It's a Good Life, from the rebooted Twilight Zone series), Anthony ends up being this for his own daughter, Audrey. Because he was coddled throughout his life, while he loves Audrey, he's rarely shown actually parenting her. He sets one other parent on fire for letting it slip that he hadn't wanted his son to play with Audrey, angry at the idea that anyone would disapprove of their children associating with her. Audrey, meanwhile, knows full well that her father's wrapped around her fingers and uses this to manipulate him into not hurting people she cares about (for example, distracting her father when he starts to lose his temper at the bowling alley and then pretending she's tired, so they can leave right away). When Anthony sees that her power are even greater than his own and that she seems to have no issues with sending her own mother to the Cornfield (something which not even he ever considered doing, he begins to behave towards her in a way similar to how his own parents treated him, being visibly nervous while speaking to her when she asks how he feels.
  • Discussed in a Season 2 episode of House when his three fellows wonder what House's parents were like. Chase assumes he's such a jerk because they mistreated him, but Foreman theorizes it was the reverse ("probably tortured his parents, not the other way around"). (Naturally, it turns out neither extreme is true.)

  • The Bible: Various passages from the Book of Proverbs, Proverbs 13:24 particularly, mention that parents who withhold themselves from disciplining their children are the ones who don't love them.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, there was a rich father who didn't want to discipline his snobby son, Eustace Strych, for his behavior because he was too ashamed. At the end, after Hugh gives him tips, he finally disciplines Eustace by not letting him seek vengeance against Jimmy for a month.
    • It's implied that this doesn't stick later as in the second episode that features Eustace, Jimmy makes a callback to the father having grounded him, only for Eustace to reply, "My father's will is easily manipulated."
  • Implied with Sarah and Ed's parents in Ed, Edd n Eddy.
    Edd: That's disturbing.
  • Vicky's parents in The Fairly OddParents! are downright terrified of Vicky, and they are afraid of disciplining her.
  • A Johnny Bravo episode has him babysit a kid with magic powers (a parody of Timothy from It's a Good Life). The parents are afraid of the kid big time, so they let him do what he wants.
  • An implied zig-zagged example of The Powerpuff Girls is with Daddy Morebucks, Princess Morebucks' father. It's shown that he rarely disciplines his daughter when she throws temper tantrums, and gives her money to get her silenced. But when making Princess mayor ends up with their mansion robbed, he seems about as upset as you'd expect.
  • Charlotte and Drew Pickles towards Angelica sometimes in Rugrats.
  • In the The Simpsons episode "The Itchy and Scratchy Movie", during a parent-teacher conference, Marge explains to Mrs. Krabappel that she and Homer have a hard time disciplining Bart whenever he does something wrong and are encouraged by her to start being firm about it. Following her advice, they get better at disciplining him, such as when they send him to bed without dinner for breaking Grandpa's teeth, and preventing him from seeing The Itchy and Scratchy Movie when he doesn't watch Maggie and she drives Homer's car.
    • In a flashback, it's shown that Ned Flanders' parents were beatnicks who didn't believe in punishing their son for his unruly behavior, but on the other hand didn't want the behavior to continue.
    Dr. Foster: Would you please tell your son to stop [tearing my office apart]?
    Ned's Dad: We can't do it, man! That's discipline! That's like tellin' Gene Krupa not to go "boom boom bam bam bam, boom boom bam bam bam, boom boom boom bam ba ba ba ba, da boo boo tss!" We don't believe in rules, like, we gave them up when we started livin' like freaky beatniks!
    Dr. Foster: You don't believe in rules, yet you want to control Ned's anger.
    Ned's Mom: Yeah. You gotta help us, Doc. We've tried nothin' and we're all out of ideas.
  • Liane Cartman from South Park admits that she doesn't give Eric any discipline because she is insecure about not having any friends.
  • On Gravity Falls, Gideon's parents do nothing to curb his behavior. His dad Bud is a pretty laid back guy who usually goes along with whatever Gideon's planning, while his mother is practically catatonic, only ever seen vacuuming. In fairness to them, Gideon is a complete psychopath, and is probably responisble for his mother being in such a state in the first place. The only time Gideon's father is seen telling Gideon to behave, he's put back in place when he tells him "Remember I can sell you to the zoo, father!"
  • Legend Of Korra: Toph's parents were way too overprotective, never realizing their only daughter's immense earthbending ability more than compensated for her blindness. Naturally, Toph's kids weren't raised nearly as strictly... with the result that Suyin ended up with a gang of delinquents and being their getaway driver, while Lin became the authoritarian of the household, joining the police and trying to arrest her sister. Culminating in Toph resigning from the police force after covering up Suyin's involvement. Suyin later turned out to be a much more balanced parent, if somewhat protective of her only daughter.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Fluttershy's parents manage to be even more extreme pushovers than their daughter, letting their deadbeat slacker son, Zephyr Breeze, walk all over them, rearrange their furniture, tear up Mrs. Shy's flowerbeds and destroy Mr. Shy's beloved cloud collection without so much as a word of protest.
  • Timmy Turner of The Fairly OddParents! once made a wish for his parents to be like this. It didn't take long before being allowed to watch violent tv shows, eat nothing but candy, and not bathe devolved into disaster.