passive aggression in families

Backhanded Compliments and Sugarcoated Hostility: How to Recognize the 10 Common Passive Aggressive Phrases


Is there someone in your life who consistently makes you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster? Do you know a person who is friendly one day but sulks and withdraws the next? Does a family member or friend consistently procrastinate, postpone, stall, and shut down any emotionally-laden conversations? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are you may be interacting with a passive aggressive person. (more…)

5 Strategies for Parents Coping with a Daughter’s Passive Aggressive Behavior


Please check out my article, featured on  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.



How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens


Best. Mail Delivery. Ever.

Just got home to find copies of my new book, How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens, on my front porch.  Please check it out here or at 

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!

13 Common Phrases to Let You Know Your Child is Being Passive Aggressive


Does your child express his anger with a passive aggressive vocabulary?  Check out this post from Psychology Today to find out:

What’s Your Anger Expression Style? Take this Quiz to Find Out


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…)

3 Ways that Kids’ Anger Bites Back


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…)

>I’m Gonna Teach Her How to Flick ‘Em!


>You just never know who you’ll meet in line at Panera Bread.

So yesterday, I’m standing in line, hoping that my wiggly 5-year old daughter doesn’t knock down the cookie display, when her booty-shaking antics attract the amused attention of the man behind us.  He explains that he has raised 3 daughters himself and that my little mover reminds him of his eldest. 

This trip down memory lane brings him to share with me several anecdotes (it was a long lunch-rush line!) about the trouble that his first-born created over the years.  From demanding money (no $1’s, Daddy!) to sneaking around with boyfriends, he laughingly recalled the struggles he went through with his lawyer-to-be eldest daughter.

Just when it was my turn to order, he shared with me the line that this Blog was waiting for:

She has a daughter of her own now,”  he smiled.  “So guess who taught their grandchild how to pick her nose in public?”

He laughed with a self-satisfied grin and a classic angry smile.

As I smiled, waved and turned my back to place my order at the counter, he guffawed, “Next, I’m gonna teach her how to flick ’em!”

Sometimes, passive aggressive revenge is years in the making, but look out, girls…dad is plotting!

My Baby Clothes Boutique has partnered with me to provide articles to the parenting community. Check out their site the next time you need adorable baby clothes, photo perfect baby headbands, or even just a cute baby hat for Spring. They have everything you need!

>If You Say One More Word… Passive Aggressive Comments From the Back Seat!


>One of the funniest gals I know relayed this story about her son who is following in her comic footsteps…much to his demise in this instance:

The family of four is on a 5-minute drive to a nearby restaurant for a Valentine’s Day dinner.  Starting on minute one, the 4-year old son starts talking back to his father and just being disrespectful, in general.  By minute four, approaching the restaurant parking lot, the dad has had it.

Dad: That’s enough, Jack.  No more talking back.  If you say one more word, I’m going to turn this car around and take you home, and there will be no Valentine’s Day dinner for you.

Jack: Thinks for a moment.  Then, yells, “A!”

Dad:  Turns the car abruptly and begins to head back towards home.  “You are done!  I am bringing you home.”

Jack:  But Dad!  I only said “A!”  That’s not a word, it’s only a letter!

Poor Jack–he couldn’t resist that passive aggressive little dig at his dad, even at the known risk of losing dinner at his favorite restaurant.   Classic Level 5 Self-depreciation!!

My Baby Clothes Boutique has partnered with me to provide articles to the parenting community. Check out their site the next time you need adorable baby clothes, photo perfect baby headbands, or even just a warm baby hat for winter. They have it all!

>Filling Out School Forms: The Oldest Husband vs. Wife Passive Aggressive Trick in the Book on ABC’s The Middle


>It’s season premiere week for the TV networks and what makes for better, more hilariously relatable comedy than passive aggression between spouses?  Check out this clip from ABC’s The Middle as Frankie guilts Mike into filling out school forms, when all he really wants to do is go to sleep.  Instead of getting mad or refusing to help, Mike uses the oldest passive aggressive trick in the book–Intentional Inefficiency–to get out of the chore.

My Baby Clothes Boutique is partnering with me to provide articles, such as this one, to parents and professionals. Check them out whenever you need to find that perfect outfit for your little one. They have it all: adorable baby headbands, cute baby shoes, trendy baby hats, and everything in between!

>The Season Finale of The Real Housewives of NJ Delivers!


>The passive aggressive person lives for indirect expressions of anger and covert acts of aggression;  facing direct confrontation about their feelings and behaviors is among their greatest fears.  On last week’s Season 2 Finale of The Real Housewives of NJ, Caroline causes Danielle to face her worst nightmare when she requests a face-to-face meeting to address the “nonsense” of their tangled family drama:

Most passive aggressive people have a perception of being chronically mistreated and underappreciated.  They cast themselves in the role of “victim,” which allows them to feel justified in hurting others in passive aggressive ways.  This season, Danielle’s revenge on her housewife cast mates comes primarily through actions toward their children, as Caroline explains in the clip above.  Her season-dominating legal wrangling with Jacqueline’s daughter, Ashley, is the best example, highlighting the difference between direct aggression (Ashley pulling Danielle’s hair extensions) and passive aggression (Danielle using the media to publicly damage Ashley’s reputation and perjuring herself by claiming that threats were made on her life.)  Danielle also took shots at the other kids throughout the season, including calling Caroline’s son a homosexual slur, and taking this hilarious, snarky shot at Teresa’s children (all under the age of eight):

The Real Housewives of NJ is like the made-for-TV version of The Angry Smile, bringing all of the book’s theory and explanations of passive aggressive behavior to life.  I couldn’t have written a better script–and no one would have believed it if they weren’t seeing it play out on TV each week!  Now, rumor has it that the Bravo network has fired Danielle!  Will there be a third season without the passive aggressive diva? 

I’m a week behind on my TV watching because I was on vacation…must now go watch the DVR’d clip of the Reunion episode.  Has anyone seen it yet?  What passive aggressive minefields am I in for?

If you are interested in reading more about passive aggressive behavior in families and friendships, please check out The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces. While you’re online, please also check out the adorable baby clothes and headbands at My Baby Clothes Boutique. My Baby Clothes Boutique has partnered with me to provide great parenting tips for their customers as a thank you for their loyalty. Check them out next time you need to get a baby gift!

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