According to Mayoclinic.com, “passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of expressing … feelings in an indirect way – instead of openly addressing them.” Individuals frequently resort to passive -aggression when society might disapprove of their open display of feelings as somehow wrong or incorrect. Thus, in an age where parenting is a verb, and a couple doesn’t simply procreate and then raise the resulting child, but must actively strive to perform this new verb to perfection, negative feelings toward being a parent might frequently be expressed passive-aggressively.
The difficulty in diagnosis is that any normal parent, on a particularly stressful day, might demonstrate one or more of these symptoms as parental perfection is not possible.
“The goal of passive-aggressive behavior is to frustrate the wishes of others and make [them] angry.” Despite the fact that the “anger is most often directed at … anyone who has power or authority,” parents can and do exhibit this behavior directly to those in power and diffusely to society in general in the following ways:
Symptoms of Parental Passive-Aggression
“Resentment and opposition to the demands of others,” including children or the family – and often out of proportion to the situation – is frequently manifested.
Victimization, or frequently voiced complaints of feeling “underappreciated” or of not receiving deserved constant thanks are often heard.
Procrastination, a symptom easily utilized in situations where parents literally hold the keys to their children’s transportation to events and appointments is also noted.
Stubbornness may often be manifested as a refusal to deviate from old-fashioned rules of conduct or to accept an authority’s opinion – such as a pediatrician or a school principal – on a particular issue.
Who knew that in order not to be considered a terrible, passive-aggressive parent, one has to be robotically efficient? No, this type of inefficiency refers more to a frantic type of activity that consistently fails to yield results.
Chronic forgetfulness and memory lapses are commonly reported as symptoms of passive-aggression, such as regularly scheduled musical lessons or sports practice.
Blaming is a constant aspect of passive-aggressive behavior. Literally any poor outcome or even must be attributed to someone else’s fault.
As noted under the “inefficiency” symptom, there are few – if any – parents who have never demonstrated irritability. But the irritability symptomatic of passive-aggressiveness is generally more global in nature and frequent in occurrence.
An overall cynical attitude toward childhood and parenthood is frequently displayed.
10. Lack of anger
Interestingly, a lack of anger may manifest instead of overall irritability, resentment, and anger as an extreme aspect of cynicism.
As recommended by University of Alaska student mental health website, “If you think that your friend or relative may have this disorder, encourage them to see their physician or counselor. Do so in a caring and assertive way.” Additional recommendations include “[encouraging] the person to take an assertiveness training.” You’re further warned not to “make excuses for your friend’s or relative’s behavior” and not to ‘”bail them out’ when they do not take care of their own responsibilities.”