1. Exaggerating the faults of their child (behind his or her back) to their significant other while maintaining “sweetness” toward their child. This may be an effort to drive away a significant other that the parents do not approve of or an effort to prevent the relationship from affecting their own relationship with their child. Many times, an honest conversation between the parent and child discussing why the child has chosen to be with this person and the reassurance that the child is not “abandoning” the parent can help.
2. Upset with a child’s fault, “affectionately” calling the child by a demeaning nickname in public in a way that appears playful on the surface. Parents do this to make light of a situation that upsets them, but also to embarrass the child into altering the perceived fault. No parent should demean their child in any way. To deal with this, a child may need to confront the parent and explain how the nickname makes them feel.
3. “Because I said so” This phrase is incredibly passive-aggressive in nature. It provides no real explanation and by itself, hinders understanding. Any parent, when faced with a child who repetitively asks “why” to avoid something will resort to it eventually. However, when it is the only explanation offered and the parent becomes agitated when pressed for an explanation, it becomes passive-aggressive, as it offers no room for discussion. Dealing with this situation can be tricky, and should be approached without a confrontational attitude.
4. “Forgetting” about something that is important to the child. This can be done to punish the child covertly or to avoid something that the parent does not want to do or does not want the child to do. The best way to prevent this from chronic occurrence is to remind the parent of the upcoming event periodically and especially shortly before it occurs. Doing this can eliminate the use of “forgetting” as an excuse.
5. Blaming a child for their own shortcomings. A parent that lays guilt on their child for making the parent what they are is a truly horrible thing. The parent was the way that they are long before the child was ever there. This behavior can cause feelings of inadequacy well into adulthood. This attitude can be handled best with a tactful statement that the circumstances were well beyond the control of the child.
6. Using tears or guilt to produce results. Parents that do this are incredibly childish. They will cry or apply guilt to a child to “guilt” them into doing whatever it is that the parent wants them to do. The best way to handle this is the same way you would with a child exhibiting the same behavior. Do not give in. Parents, just like children, can learn that people will not respond to tears and guilt.
7. Speaking ambiguously to confuse their child or delay responding. Parents may use ambiguity to confuse their child into doing whatever it is that the parent wants done. Providing a partial explanation or saying “someday, ” “maybe” or “later” creates a feeling of suspense and frustration that the parent will only relieve if the child does as the parent wishes. This can be dealt with by asking for clarification. Ask WHEN something will be done, an answer will be known or a conversation can be had.
8. Feigning innocence. A parent that claims innocence or ignorance as a reason for their behavior is being passive-aggressive. They are avoiding blame by placing the blame on someone or something else. Fighting this with the knowledge of guilt and proof may be the only way to put this action to rest.
9. Sending mixed signals. Parents may allow their children to do something, but at the same time, make them feel guilty if they do. The best way to deal with this is to do whatever the desired task is. Do not allow guilt over the perceived injustice of the situation to get in the way.
10. Intentionally creating obstacles to prevent achievement of goals. Telling a child that they may do something IF they first perform an impossible task relieves the parent’s guilt by making it the fault of the child that they could not perform the impossible task. To handle this type of situation you may have to point out the unreasonableness of the required task. You might try asking for help with it, but they may refuse under the premise that you are not performing the task.
Passive-aggressive behavior is some of the most difficult behavior to deal with. It often leads to feelings of inadequacy, guilt and fear. The best way to handle this behavior is to get help for the passive-aggressive person if possible.