Hi, Not sure if this is the right place for this thread, It came up in conversation during a session with my Pyschologist and I have stumbled across the topic again in my reading about Depression and anxiety. I ask because I wonder if my learned parenting skills have a component of Passive aggressiveness and so I am doing the same kind of behaviour. Thoughts ?
That sounds like a really big question but one worth exploring. None of us want to be mean after all. I wonder if you have identified a situation where you think you are falling into being passive aggressive, and what the impact of that has been.
What I immediately thought of was someone who once told me that I needed to find my inner diva. It sort of made sense that I needed to learn to say things more directly sometimes and even be brave enough to challenge respectfully.
As Rob has said, this is a huge topic. The first thing that occurred to me was that we all have a bit of all the wrong "stuff" in us. It's how we manage ourselves that matters. For example I know I get angry and I know I need to manage this. I also laugh a great deal because I find so many things funny. I still need to manage this because I may end up laughing at someone, or appearing to, which would not be nice. I guess if we were really honest with ourselves we would admit to doing all the wrong things at times, even if they were not meant that way.
But I think you are not talking about that aspect of ourselves. You are wondering if this is how you interact with your family on a regular basis, whether or not you realise it. Rob has asked if you have a particular situation in mind and how your behaviour has impacted on your family. Has your psych talked about this with you? Or was it a comment that came and went? I'm not sure I would be able to answer this because I don't know you, your family or the situation.
Let me ask you, presuming you have a situation in mind, how you felt about it at the time. Angry/frustrated/resigned/pleased/sad or whatever. What do you think you would feel if you were being passive aggressive? And how does that match your actual thoughts and feelings. I think this is the key to how you manage your family and yourself.
This is a quick post as I need to think about this some more but I wanted to respond to you this evening.
I see being passive aggressive as behaving in an indirect yet hostile way to a situation. Masking anger maybe in order to deal with a confrontation a person might want to avoid.
If I look back at the way I saw my parents argue, I would say that my father was verbally brow-beaten by my mother. If one could say a person won the argument, in my family it was just about... no, always my mother. She would even deingrate her own mother who lived with us to the point of my grandmother saying that perhaps she should move out (my grandmother herself should move out). I felt pretty much unable to do anything listening to those arguments, they made me feel bad. So in order to avoid such confrontations, even when one might start to feel angry, it is possible then to learn a kind of passivity to avoid confrontation. I'm just thinking aloud I guess.
I find this really interesting, would it be fair to say that your son knows how to push your buttons sometimes. Kids have such a strong sense of justice and the parenting relationship is necessarily one where the adult has more power which (hopefully) diminishes as they grow up. I wonder what stuff he would be happy with and if that was appropriate to share with him (could go either way).
Avoidance is something I do. Anxiety does drive me avoiding stuff. So how does being passive aggressive help avoid something now? Are you in that pattern learned as a child? Thinking about it, I am.
One thing that I am trying out is - Stop, think, react. It is really hard, but it also lets me catch what my anxiety is pushing me to do, and then chose to do something else. It is a work in progress at the moment.
From your description of your parents arguments it sounds more like out and out bullying, nothing subtle about it. But yes, it is difficult not to imitate what our parents did. I am very much aware my husband was profoundly influenced by his mother's dreadful behaviour. In his case it made him determined to be the dominant person in our marriage and household generally and assumed I was like his mother if I disagreed with anything. So 'normal' discussions were always fraught with knowledge that I could only disagree so far before he walked over me.
I doubt I ever told my children everything that happened in my life. And I am equally certain my children would be horrified if I did. They also had their secrets, one of which is, who made the hole in the boys' bedroom wall. I still don't know. What does your son expect you to tell him? I do agree with Rob that children know how to press our buttons. If your son is a teenager he is probably starting to assert his right to become an adult, always a difficult journey for mom and child.
I know I can get very angry, particularly about injustice, and I need to find a way to keep that anger in check before I open my mouth. Over the years I have learned how to to look at the other and try to see that point of view. Doesn't always work, especially if it is something I am passionate about, or if I am just tired and lack the mental reserve to cope at that moment. Nothing passive there.
Sometimes good manners can be misconstrued as passive aggression. The person who refuses to argue because they dislike arguments or doesn't want to engage on that topic. It's a fine line at times. When is keeping your anger in check the right thing to do. Well I say it's best kept in check all the time. Too many hurtful things happen when we allow our emotions to take charge. But it doesn't mean it is another form of aggression. I have walked away from an argument to bring my anger under control, I suppose it could be seen as passive aggression, but that's not the reason. It is as you commented Masking anger maybe in order to deal with a confrontation a person might want to avoid.
For me the question has always been, how do I feel about it. If I feel bad because of the way I answered I try to work out why.
Well you certainly have got me thinking about this. I'm not sure 'thank you' is appropriate. I hope I have helped in clarifying your query.