Some passive aggressive traits are so deeply ingrained that we don’t even realize we have them. We use them on our children, their friends, our friends and other loved ones. Sometimes we need to take a step back and see what our passive aggressive actions are doing to our children. Below are what I have seen as the most common 10 passive aggressive things that parents do.
Indirectly cut down an absent parent. Obviously, if you aren’t with the other parent, things didn’t work out. There may be some residual anger and hurt to deal with. You might make comments about how you don’t think construction workers are intelligent, yet the only one you know is your ex-husband. When you find yourself doing this, remember that when you cut the absent parent down, you are also cutting down half of your child, whether you’re doing it directly or not.
Make the child pay for what the absent parent has done. I’ve seen this one many times. The parent looks at the child and actually sees the absent parent. If the child does something wrong, it only confirms that the child got some “bad genes”. I’ve actually even seen mothers tell their children that they have too many (insert last name of father here) genes. Not only is this unproductive, it’s also hurtful and childish.
“Forget” to wash that favorite clothing item. I have a son, not a daughter and in a way, I’m thankful for that. I could see myself doing this passive aggressive number on some short skirt or shirt that showed her cleavage. It’s much easier than arguing about the wardrobe issue.
Torture children with movies. I admit it, I do this. When I really want to get my son and his friends out of the living room, all I have to do is out in a drama or chic flick. It always works. They roll their eyes and head to the bedroom. What? I didn’t yell at them or ask them to leave. I used my passive aggressive skills to reclaim a room!
Pick them up late. Have you ever been upset with your child or frustrated by last minute calls demanding to pick them up? Some parents will show up late without even thinking about it. This is a classic passive aggressive maneuver meant to assert that the parent is really the one in control. I hate to tell you guys, but you gave up being master of your house the moment you gave birth or watched your child being born. While you may have some control over the little things, if you’re a decent parent, at the core of your decisions is your child’s best interests.
Expect them to read your mind. So, the house is a mess and all you really want is a bit of help cleaning it up. Instead of simply asking, you go on a cleaning frenzy, then go all mental on your kids because they didn’t help you. Reality check. They can’t read your mind. Not to mention the fact that if you are on a cleaning frenzy they might just be wanting to stay out of your way.
Try to illicit emotions. Sometimes parents get so overwhelmed that all they really want is for someone to validate their feelings. So, they might make some indirect comments that are meant to encourage the kids to empathize or do a little extra. This isn’t fair and truly is not a position that children should be put in.
Threaten suicide. This is one of the worst passive aggressive behaviors that a parent can do. I’ve seen mothers tell their 4 year old children that they are going to kill themselves. The mother is looking for a sense of worth in someone else’s eyes. The child in turn begs and pleads, giving the mother some gratification. Underneath it all, the mother has just instilled a couple of ideas in the child’s core. One of those ideas is that the child isn’t important enough for the mother to want to stay alive. The other is that suicide is an option when things get rough. The child becomes the adult, only the child now has learned some of the worst coping skills that they can.
Show favorites. It’s not uncommon for parents to show favorites. It’s not productive either. Treating one child as if they everything right and indirectly condemning things that another child does is immature and extremely damaging to both children. One ends up with a loss of self esteem while the other ends up torn between the pain of watching a sibling be hurt and the glory of being the special child.
Make yourself the victim. Parents sometimes make statements to their children that imply that the parent is willing to suffer in order to make the child happy, in effect negating the potential for the child to be happy. This is especially common in parents who are addicts. The addiction causes them to think only of their immediate gratification rather than the well being of the child.
These 10 passive aggressive things that parents do are not the only ones and not all passive aggressive behaviors are bad. Sometimes they can be fun. For example, I might quietly hum the “Kissing in the Tree” song to my son when he sees a pretty girl. He knows I’m just playing with him and when he says “Mom!” with a little grin, I innocently ask him what he wants as I was only whistling a tune I like. Personally, I also like the direct approach such as threatening to take him to school in my pajamas while wearing bright pink lipstick. But, hey that’s me.