tie one's hands

tie one's hands  {v. phr.}
To make (a person) unable to do anything. — Usually used in the passive.
Since Mary would not tell her mother what was bothering her, her mother's hands were tied.
Charles wanted to help John get elected president of the class, but his promise to another boy tied his hands.
Father hoped Jim would not quit school, but his hands were tied; Jim was old enough to quit if he wanted to.
Categories: bother {v. phr.}