Scary Parents

By Kristen Johnson

Trophy Kids is a documentary about exactly what it sounds like – talented, athletic kids who are pushed and pushed by overzealous parents. It’s a cautionary tale about how we treat others, how children are taught about bullying in school, and how they can then be subjected to nothing but bullying by their own parents.

The film follows 2 high school basketball players, a high school football player, twin junior high tennis players, and an elementary school-aged golfer. Although the parent of the tennis players was a little over-the-top with her spirituality and focus for her boys, she was not like the other parents, all of whom were verbally and emotionally abusive to their children.

It’s difficult to watch, and I had to watch it in short bursts. It’s not fun to watch parents curse at their children and berate them publicly. What’s particularly irritating is that it seems like schools, coaches, teachers, etc, are powerless to do much about it. One of the parents was removed from the stands for the season at one point, but that fails to remove the child from an abusive situation at home. One of the coaches at the end of the documentary suggests that schools should make policies to alleviate these kind of abuses, and he’s correct. Watching these kids cry in shame, and cower in fear from their own parents is shocking and disturbing.

Looking at the law, we’re pretty powerless to help these poor kids.

State protective services are empowered to mobilize when they see visible marks of physical abuse on children’s bodies. When the abuse damages instead a child’s soul, eroding self-esteem and fostering hatred and fear, protective services generally has no jurisdiction. (Psychology Today)

Unfortunately, I don’t see any laws or state guidelines that protect children from verbal and emotional abuse. What is wrong with this system?

It’s time to call on our elected officials to protect children (and spouses, elders, etc.) from verbal and emotional abuse. Something needs to change. We can’t expect our kids to learn that “bullying” isn’t okay (as they are constantly lectured about in schools) only to ignore it when their parents are the worst bullies of all.

Proverbs 22:6 (NRSV): Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of:


3 thoughts on “Scary Parents

  1. I was fortunate to grow up in a magical time and place here in Hawaii. My whole life turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.My family ties have continued despite not sending me to the hospital because “they couldn’t afford it”. What am I supposed to say when they get old and feeble ? “Sorry ! Can help you ! Too expensive!”. I’m actively working on forgiveness but it was unspeakably cruel for them to abandon me when I most needed them.


    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll pray for you – I am always stunned by how people treat each other, particularly people who are supposed to love us the most. (That’s one of many reasons why I like dogs more than humans!)

      Liked by 1 person

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