>Is your daughter the type to come right out and tell you when she is feeling angry? Does she stuff her anger inside? Perhaps she is most likely to express her feelings in sneaky ways. Or maybe, when she is mad, the whole world knows about it—and better step aside! Whatever your child’s anger style, chances are she has developed it over the years and modeled it after…gulp…much-loved family members.
Click on the link below to complete an Anger Expression Style Quiz I developed for the website Mom It Forward:
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>Has it ever happened to you that just when a heartfelt issue is going on in your own life, it keeps coming up in other places as well? Last week, I wrote about a lightbulb moment I had as far as role modeling social inclusion when planning my daughter’s birthday party (see blog post below) and this week, the same issue is dealt with on NBC’s Parenthood and ABC’s The Middle.
I haven’t been able to get The Middle Clip yet, in which Mike Heck explains to the father of a Queen Bee teenage girl (who is excluding his daughter, Sue, from a sleepover party) why it is a parent’s job to teach kids that excluding others is not OK. Have you seen it? I think I may actually have been cheering aloud. Not that the father of the Mean Girl actually seemed to learn anything…but watching Mike be a champion for his daughter was so great!
On this week’s episode of Parenthood, Christina uses every bit of strength, assertiveness, and heart she has to champion Max’s inclusion in a classmate’s party:
Have you ever done something like this to be a champion for your child? You win some, you lose some–in these two episodes, Mike seemed to make no impact, though Christina did. That’s how it goes in real life, as well as in Hollywood. But I love that the issue of social inclusion is being raised on prime-time TV and that the simplest, most basic tradition of a child’s party is highlighted as the starting point for parents teaching kids that leaving others out is NOT okay.
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>I have not yet been blessed with one of those “sleeper-type” babies. Sleep training, shmeep training; when my daughters were infants, I tried everything the books said, the neighbors said, my mom said, my friends said. My head was spinning with advice, but my brain was not getting any rest, as both of my girls instinctively knew how to sleep in my arms and wake the moment they were put down. “Let them cry it out,” you say? “Relentless!” I answer you.
The good news is, I made it! They are now ages 7 and 4, and except for the typical, “I’m not tired” protests at bedtime, they find their own way to slumber these days and are even sampling the fine art of sleeping in. No, this Passive Aggressive Diary post won’t actually be about sleep, but rather the epic (and different) ways my husband and I went about approaching our older daughter’s bedtime routine, back in her baby days.
When Hannah was 19 months old, I had grown weary of spending an hour (plus!) each night rocking her to sleep, so my New Year’s resolution that year was to get a more reasonable bedtime routine going. I put her to bed every night for six weeks and got our family into a new groove: three books, a loving song, and in-the-crib—all in under 20 minutes. My husband was totally down with the whole thing until the night in late February when I asked him if he could follow the simple routine and put Hannah to bed.
He looked me in the eye, asked in detail about the number of books and timing of the routine, and then agreed to my request.
About a half hour went by (not that I was watching the clock or anything), when I heard uproarious laughter from upstairs. I felt a stab of impatience, but then chided myself for being so strict on the time, thinking sweetly, “How nice that they are enjoying their time together.”
Five minutes later, loud music began: Dan Zanes on full volume! I could hear Hannah’s bed springs squeaking. It was a Dance Party! Any “isn’t that sweet” thoughts drained from my head (probably through the steam seeping out of my ears.)
At the 50-minute mark, I heard dresser drawers slamming. I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I went upstairs and opened Hannah’s bedroom door. She was out of her fleece jammies and decked out in her stripy bathing suit, Dora sunglasses, and a pair of brand new hot pink water shoes. It was a BEACH dance party…in February…at 9:48pm…
My heart melted a little when Hannah ran up to me with her huge wide-awake smile and shouted, “Bedtime so fun!”
But it froze up again when Richard came downstairs 35 minutes later (that’s an hour and a half later, for those of you (like me) who are counting) and met my stony glare with feigned shock, “What? We were just having some fun!”
Five years of decent night sleeps later, the situation that February evening is now all clear; Richard didn’t want to be bothered with bedtime routines. Rather than tell me this fact and risk an argument over sharing childcare responsibilities, he chose a passive aggressive response to the situation. He verbally agreed to the task, but carried it out in such a way that he knew would excuse him from having to repeat it for quite some time. Classic intentional inefficiency.
The cunning of his personal choice was unmistakable: when I argued with his stated intention of having fun with his daughter, I got to star in the coveted roles of “uptight, no-fun mother” and the always delightful-to-be-around “controlling wife.” My husband’s strategy in the situation was a winning one for both he and our daughter; Hannah thought her Daddy was the coolest in the world and Richard was not called upon to help with this evening responsibility for months.
At least I got a good story for my book!
The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces
>When kids feel the heat of angry adults, they have many choices in how to react. Some return the anger with physically aggressive behavior. Others remain passive and walk on eggshells to placate the adult. This example, submitted by Robert on 9/27/09, shows a child with his own style of responding to an playmate’s hostile mother:
As a child I was occasionally forced to endure the overbearingly strict rules enforced by my friends’ parents. At this point it is important to note that I believe rules are essential for any child. In the case of my friend Dave Thompson however, his parents didn’t just set the ordinary rules as expected from any parent.
Upon arrival at Dave’s house, I would be given the ‘orientation’ by his mother, in which she would warn me of the repercussions for touching or moving anything besides what she had given Dave to play with for the day. Even these toys had to be returned before beginning any new activity, the punishment being ‘automatic suspension’ from Dave’s house for the foreseeable future. Every time I moved away from the toys we had been given for even a second, Dave’s mother would appear, hovering over us, watching over my every move.
Eventually I grew tired with these overbearing rules, along with Dave’s constant insecurity at upsetting his mother. I realized my own inability as a young child to face up to this fearsome woman, so devised the perfect plan to take revenge in my own subtle way. I noticed that his mother was constantly obsessing that every item in the house be situated exactly where she wished it to be. I convinced Dave to join me in my evil retaliation scheme. We moved every item in the playroom ever so slightly out of position, just enough that it wouldn’t be noticeable to any regular human being, besides to our very own Mrs. Thompson of course.
Think he was ever invited back? How long do you think it took Mrs. Thompson to rearrange her world?
What did you do when you were a kid to deal with the mean parent on the block?