passive aggressive behavior in families
Amber had been giving her mother the silent treatment all week. She was angry about not being allowed to sleep over at a friend’s house. Late Thursday night, she left a note on her mother’s pillow, asking her mom to wash her uniform before Friday’s soccer game. When Amber returned home from school on Friday, in a rush to pack her gear, she looked all over for her uniform. She finally found it in the washer-perfectly clean, as per her request-but still soaking wet! Amber was late for her game and forced to ride the bench.
When all was un-said and done, Amber’s mother felt defeated. Having one-upped her daughter in the conflict, it was clear to her that she had lost by winning. As parents, most of us have been in situations where traveling the low road is irresistible and we become temporarily reckless in our driving. But anytime we mirror a child’s poor behavior instead of modeling a healthier way to behave, our victories add up to long-term relationship damage and lasting hostilities.
To read the rest of this post and find guidelines for how parents can maintain their calm in a passive aggressive storm and respond in ways that lay the groundwork for less conflictual relationships with their daughters, please visit my blog on Psychology Today.
So, my sweet eldest child just muttered something about “I hate you. You’re the meanest Mommy in the whole world” as I was leaving her room. (Apparently she didn’t agree when I told her that homework was her responsibility.) Guess passive aggression and indirect anger are no longer something I need to be concerned about with her… So much for this approach I had just mastered:
How do you approach passive aggressive behavior with your kids?
Do you ever feel like you are riding on an emotional roller coaster with your child? Is your little one friendly and sweet one day, then sulky and withdrawn the next? Does your teenager consistently procrastinate, postpone, stall and shut down any emotionally-charged conversation? Do you, as a parent, ever resemble that same portrait? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are good that passive aggressive behavior has found a way into your home and family.
Check out my article in the Huffington Post Parents section to learn about eight of the most common passive aggressive phrases and to figure out if “sugarcoated hostility” exists in your home and family.
Next week, I am doing a training based on The Angry Smile for a group of professionals and parents in Newfoundland, CA. As I am going through my material, I couldn’t help but to dig back in the Modern Family archives and pick out this most classic example of passive aggressive behavior between Claire and her daughter. This is the show that keeps on giving.
Dealing with passive aggressive communication in your household? Check out my post on Psychology Today:
I’ve got a busy Fall planned, with several training workshops featuring The Angry Smile. Although I’ve got a good number of stories about sugarcoated hostility, excessive civility, defiant compliance, and plain old passive aggressive behavior to share, I am always looking for fresh, new examples. If you have a good example of passive aggressive behavior from a friend, family member, co-worker, parent, child, mother-in-law (those are the best!), boss, on Facebook, via e-mail, on a post-it note, or all of the above, I would love to hear it!
Please e-mail me your story to Signe@SigneWhitson.com or better yet, leave it here via the Comments section. Be sure to leave me your e-mail address; I will be sending a free copy of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, 2nd ed. to the best example I receive.
Spread the word. It’ll be great for my collection of real-life examples of passive aggressive behavior and probably worth several laughs for you as well, as you hear about the hilarious lengths some people go to avoid expressing their anger directly and assertively.
PLEASE NOTE: By submitting this story to www.signewhitson.com, you grant Signe Whitson a permanent, royalty-free license to use and/or reproduce this story for any purpose.
Please check out my article, featured on Daughters.com. The post offers insight into the intentionally maddening world of passive aggressive behavior and tips for how parents can cope with–and effectively change–this pattern of behavior.
I wrote it specifically for professionals and parents to help kids learn that having angry feelings does not make you bad; it makes you human. Learning how to effectively cope with and express those feelings in ways that enhance–rather than damage–relationships is the key.
How to Be Angry is packed with discussion-starters, games, and kid-friendly activites to help young people learn how to express their anger in assertive, relationship-building ways. It features two chapters on standing up to bullies, as well as tips on disagreeing without arguing, making and refusing requests, and responding to others’ anger.
I hope you enjoy it…check back and let me know what you think!
Is your child the type to come right out and tell you when he is feeling angry? Does he stuff his anger inside? Perhaps he is most likely to express his feelings in sneaky ways. Or maybe, when he is mad, the whole world knows about it—and better step aside! Whatever your child’s anger style, chances are he has developed it over the years and modeled it after…gulp…much-loved family members.
Take this Anger Styles Quiz to learn about how anger is articulated in your family: (more…)
How many of you were told as a child, “Don’t be mad at your friend. She was just kidding,” or even “It’s not nice to be angry with your parents?” How many of you–gulp–have even uttered messages like these to your own children? Don’t worry; my hand is raised also. Despite the fact that I just wrote a book about helping kids accept and manage angry feelings, sometimes these knee-jerk responses just fly out of my mouth–as they do everyone else’s.
Are they the worst things to say to a child? Well, having worked for several years with abused children, I can definitively say (more…)