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Pushover Parents

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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, or at their very worst, they may be Abusive Offspring.

Obviously, Truth in Television.

If they do, in fact, 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). Compare Disneyland Dad where parents shower their kids with expensive gifts and trips, but don't spend much time with their children. 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. When the parents are like this to one sibling over the other(s), it's Parental Favoritism.

A Sub-Trope of Lawful Pushover, which applies to any similar person of authority. Compare to Extreme Doormat.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Occurs in "Soap Bubbles". Tammy initially wants to discipline Noby for making Mr. S feel depressed, but when she gets hit with a huge soap bubble, she feels sad and refuses to discipline her son or anyone besides herself.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Jotaro's mother, Holly, is basically a huge doormat who responds to everything with a huge smile and a loud "Okay!" and is convinced that Jotaro is a loving and nice boy, even though he's a pretty violent and snarky guy, and he's constantly telling her to stop being so annoying, at one point even calling her a bitch. That being said, the moment Holly falls sick from DIO's influence, he's immediately ready to depart to Egypt to save her.
  • In Ojamajo Doremi, it's explained that Reika Tamaki's father is like this. This is because he once accidentally caused her to get scalded with hot coffee, so he promised to himself that he'd never make her cry again. Unfortunately, Mr. Tamaki never really disciplined her from then on, causing Reika to become a Spoiled Brat. It eventually reached a breaking point when a well-placed Armor-Piercing Question from Onpu leads the usually self-assured Reika to doubt that her father actually loves her...
  • The chapter "Daughter" of Pet Shop of Horrors deconstructs this trope viciously: The parents spoiled their daughter Alice and could never say no to her, not even when she became a criminal and a drug addict. This ultimately led to Alice's death by overdose when her mother caved in and gave her more drugs instead of helping her rehabilitate. When they buy a rabbit at the titular pet shop, it becomes apparent they didn't learn their lesson the first time...

    Fan Works 
  • 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 eighth-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 main character's Freudian Excuse - her Newfoal parents just couldn't deal with her fiery personality, nor could they deal with her special talent.
  • 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 if nothing works, tail-whip him,"
  • In Faded Blue, Blue Pearl has a hard time saying "no" to Steven when his natural stubbornness kicks in. Justified because Blue Pearl still partially views Steven as her Diamond, and is trained to obey orders without question.
    • Subverted with Greg, however, much to Blue Pearl's continued surprise (and slight envy).
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: As Danny notices to his shock, even Katie's parents are afraid of her.
  • In ''Medicated, Grime's opinion on Percy and Braddock's parenting of Sasha is...not great.

    Films — Animated 
  • The werewolf Wayne from Hotel Transylvania. Of all his children only Winnie respects him.
    Wayne: "Hey, kids, reel it in! You're only supposed to make Mom and Dad miserable!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future: George McFly 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.
  • Brothers (2009): Downplayed. Grace does call out Isabelle for her nasty behavior at the party but still doesn't give her an effective punishment.
  • 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.
  • Mean Girls: Regina George's mom has shades of this, as shown in a scene when Regina tells her mother to stop talking, and she stops.
  • The Whale:
    • Downplayed with Mary. Aside from telling Ellie off when the latter keeps acting up at Charlie's place, she doesn't seem to do much else about her behavioral issues (like take her to a mental hospital) and instead abuses drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.
    • Played straight with Charlie, who puts up with Ellie's attitude due to both his depression and immobilized state.

  • 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.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Susan is too hesitant to punish Manny simply because he's the youngest and also her favorite. However, she has sometimes acknowledged some of Manny's bad deeds, like when he broke Greg's console in Rodrick Rules, leading her to tell him what he did was wrong, or in Cabin Fever, whereas, despite not grounding him for nearly accidentally killing her and his brothers, she isn't shown to be happy with him after giving him his presents.
  • Harry Potter:
    • 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 to 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 fourth 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 Draco Malfoy's father. He's definitely spoiled and Lucius 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 Draco a position on it and forcing the Board of Governors to agree to execute Buckbeak over an incident that was Draco's own fault). On the other hand, the first time Lucius appears in the series, he's shown ordering his son not to touch anything in the shop they're in, refusing Draco's request for a present, making a snide comment about Draco'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 why 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 paid money to smooth it over.
  • Twilight: Bella Swan's father is one of the most laid-back and 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 
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Gloria Mott was rather neglectful when her son Dandy was a baby. Now that he's grown up a sociopath, she's unable to control him.
  • Henry Danger: Played for Laughs. The Harts are so spineless that they almost never discipline their daughter Piper, even when she outright breaks the law, and instead give her whatever she wants.
  • House: Discussed in a Season 2 episode of when House's three fellows wonder what his parents were like. Foreman assumes he's such a jerk because they mistreated him, but Chase theorizes it was the reverse ("probably tortured his parents, not the other way around"). Naturally, it turns out neither extreme is true.
  • Maury: Shown many times with violent teenage girls, with parents (usually only moms) who are terrified of their daughters, and are afraid of disciplining them.
  • The Mick: Mickey starts off wanting to be the cool aunt, and later her attempts to discipline Sabrina and Chip are fruitless. Luckily for her, Ben is still small enough for her to spank.
  • Supernanny: Numerous episodes show parents constantly giving in to their childrens' every little demand in fear of their temper tantrums.
    • In "The Tsironis Family", three-year-old twins Teddy and Nicholas hit and bite their parents, Bob and Elizabeth, and their older sister, Kate, throw their toys, and throw their food on the floor at dinner time. However, Bob and Elizabeth find it hard to discipline the twins for their bad behavior because they were born prematurely. Jo has to help Bob and Elizabeth discipline the twins by reminding them that they are healthy now and need to be disciplined for their bad behavior in the (then)-present day. Elizabeth catches on quickly, but Bob finds it more difficult because he doesn't want the twins to scream and cry.
    • While Lisa and Steve Daniels are far too hard on Halley, they are far too lenient when it comes to disciplining their other children. A good example is when Alexus continues to play in the pool despite having been grounded from using it. Lisa doesn't even try to get her out, instead hoping for Steve to help her when he returns. Jo naturally calls Lisa and Steve out for their laziness during the parents' meeting.
    • Kevin and Jessica Van Acker end up giving into Dylan's demands for junk food and diapers, which ultimately results in him being anemic and not potty-trained. Jo tells Kevin and Jessica to stop being pushovers, and decides to help them discipline Dylan and not give into his demands.
  • The Twilight Zone (2002): In the episode "It's Still A Good Life" (the sequel of "It's a Good Life", from The Twilight Zone (1959)), 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 powers 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.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible: Proverbs 13:24 mention that parents who withhold themselves from disciplining their children are the ones who don't love them.
    "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

    Newspaper Comics 

  • Elliot's parents in El Goonish Shive are kind of like this. It's partly a result of their total acceptance of the weirdness (when told that Elliot had broken into a secure facility in order to reverse a Gender Bender, and instead created an Opposite-Sex Clone, their only concern is that he told them he was going to be at Tedd's house, so he lied) and partly just what they're like (their reaction to the one part of this they're mad about is first to say Elliot gets no dessert, then modify that to "one brownie, then it's straight to bed", then offer him more brownies anyway). But since Elliot is absurdly Lawful Good, they must be doing something right.

    Web Original 
  • Plenty of examples at Not Always Right.
  • As parental substitutes to Jeffy, both Mario and Rosalina from SuperMarioLogan fall into this territory, especially the latter. While they both cave into Jeffy's demands, Mario at least tries to discipline Jeffy whenever he does something bad, whereas Rosalina almost never punishes Jeffy, even when he really deserves it, and frequently takes his side as well, even accusing Mario of child abuse when he tries to discipline Jeffy.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In one episode, there was a rich father who didn't want to discipline his snobby son, Eustace Strych, for his behavior because he was too ashamed. In the end, after Hugh gives him tips, he finally disciplines Eustace by not letting him seek vengeance against Jimmy for a month. However, it's implied that this doesn't stick later as in the second episode that features Eustace, Jimmy makes a Call-Back to the father having grounded him, only for Eustace to reply, "My father's will is easily manipulated."
  • Animaniacs: Katie Ka-Boom's parents try to discipline Katie when she can't get her way, but Katie's violent outbursts terrify them to the point where they're too frightened to properly discipline her.
  • Bob's Burgers: Bob and Linda Belcher zigzag with this trope. On one hand, they give their kids a bit too much freedom and the end result is them being a bit troublesome and getting roped into their situations without any resistance. That said, when the kids do something genuinely wrong, they're not afraid to ground the kids.
  • Brickleberry: Woody Johnson spoils Malloy with junk food, video games, and weapons while letting him walk all over him.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Poor Doofus Drake's parents are terrified of their Spoiled Brat son, who Used to Be a Sweet Kid until he inherited his Grandma Frances' fortune and went power-mad. Now Doofus reveres his late "Gummeemama" and treats his biological parents like servants, forcing them to cater to his every whim. They finally gain the courage to punish Doofus for his behavior when Boyd joins their family as an adopted child. He gains half of the fortune Doofus inherited and transfers it into their account so they're no longer beholden to him.
    • Della Duck is something of this due to the fact that she wasn't around for the triplets' first ten years of growing up. When she returns from the Moon, she initially starts off as One of the Kids due to her inexperience. She ends up finding her backbone and grounds Louie when he nearly causes time/space to collapse.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Implied with Sarah and Ed's parents — except mainly to Sarah. Ed is infamously grounded in one episode; his parents remove the stairs to ensure he can't escape.
    Edd: That's disturbing.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Vicky's parents are downright terrified of Vicky, and they are afraid of disciplining her.
  • Gravity Falls: Gideon Gleeful'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. The only time Gideon's father is seen telling Gideon to behave, he's put back in his place:
    Bud: Gideon Charles Gleeful! Clean up your room this instant!
    Bud: [beat] Fair enough. [leaves]
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy's parents cave into Mandy's desires. Part of the reason is because they fear her, but it's implied she has some kind of supernatural control over them.
  • Johnny Bravo: One episode has Johnny 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.
  • 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.
  • The Loud House: Lynn Sr. and Rita Loud:
    • In "April Fool's Rules", Lynn Sr. and Rita are just as terrified of Luan's lethal pranks as their children are, and no matter how far she goes, they never punish her for them, even though as the parents, they are completely in the right to do so.
    • In "Brawl in the Family", as Lincoln's increasingly psychotic sisters take over life in the Loud house, especially for Lincoln, Lynn Sr. and Rita do absolutely nothing to stop all the fighting, instead choosing to have dinner twice with a separate sister and then hide in their room when the threat reaches the "Stampeding T-Rex" level rather than bother to help anyone or even reprimand the girls for their crazy and selfish behavior.
    • In "No Such Luck", Lynn Sr. and Rita are somehow gullible enough to believe that Lincoln is bad luck when Lynn Jr. loses a softball game that she forced Lincoln to go to, and have no problem with locking Lincoln outside the house or refusing to believe him when he tells the truth about his ruse. They also don't punish Lynn Jr. for her selfish and irresponsible actions.
    • In "Friendzy", when the kids invite all their best friends over to get privileges over one another, Lynn Sr. and Rita run off to the mall with Lily rather than do something to stop the escalating war. Only after the police punish them with a ticket for disturbing the peace do they carry out a punishment.
    • In "Appetite for Destruction", Rita and Lynn Sr. never do anything to punish Lily for her destructive behavior which is revealed in the end to have been constipation brought on by cheese consumption, even when Lily crosses the line at physically attacking an innocent kid, allowing her to get away with her bad behavior.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Andre Bourgeois is the mayor of Paris and the father of Chloe Bourgeois, who always bends over backwards to make his daughter happy, which could be chalked up to his wife leaving while Chloe was a little girl.
  • 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.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): An implied zig-zagged example 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 taps the rolled-up morning paper against his palm repeatedly. So despite spoiling her, he'll still discipline her if she causes something he cares about.
  • Rugrats (1991):
    • Drew Pickles zig-zags this in regard to his daughter Angelica. He does spoil Angelica, and bows to her whim on many occasions. That said when it's clear to him that Angelica's done wrong, however, he puts his foot down. A good example of this occurs in one episode where Angelica steals one of Chaz Finster's favorite Latvian Folk Dance CDs (long story, don't ask), when Drew discovers her crime, he marches her to the Finster house, makes Angelica apologize and makes his overall displeasure with her very clear. Though usually Charlotte disciplines Angelica much more than Drew (at least during the rare moments when she's not distracted by work), Charlotte still has occasions where she is as well, such as in "Princess Angelica" where she disregards Angelica's self-entitlement as mere "self-esteem."
    • In the episode "Angelica for a Day", a bratty little girl is screaming at her father to buy her ice cream, and the father gives in. Drew sees this and laughs while saying, "I wouldn't want to be in that guy's shoes."
    • Played with at the end of "Club Fred". Charlotte worries that she and Drew might have been too hard on Angelica by having her be their servant for the rest of their vacation as her punishment, but then Drew shows Charlotte the size of the bill for what Angelica charged to their account.
    • They wizened up and escaped this however in All Grown Up! and no longer spoil Angelica like they used to.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Itchy & Scratchy: The 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.
    • A flashback in "Hurricane Neddy" shows that Ned Flanders' parents were beatniks 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.
  • South Park: Liane Cartman admits that she doesn't give Eric any discipline because she is insecure about not having any friends. She actually starts becoming less of a pushover over time. In season 15, she refuses to buy Cartman an iPad after he humiliates her in public. By season 19, she orders Cartman to go to bed. AT GUNPOINT! note 
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race: Kelly starts off this way, allowing her Bratty Teenage Daughter Taylor to walk all over her. However, as the show progresses, Kelly becomes less patient with Taylor's insolence, climaxing in "Hawaiian Honeyruin" where Kelly gives Taylor a scathing, yet long overdue, reality check.
  • Velma: Flashbacks show that Diya did nothing to stop Velma’s bratty and destructive behavior but instead suffered through it. In the present time, she’s just as enabling as ever and lets Velma do what she wants, including locking Aman, Sophie, and Amanda (who is only a baby) out of the house.


Video Example(s):


Andre Bourgeois

Andre is practically a slave to his daughter's whims.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / PushoverParents

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