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Passive-Aggressive Example
Got His Way at a Cost

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The following is an example from website readers of passive-aggressive encounters they have experienced. The suggested responses are not personal advice as a full evaluation of the situation is not available. Also, the suggestions may not work in every situation but are to give you an idea of possible ways to respond. For more, read: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People and 7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People
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Question: I am the youngest of five brothers. Throughout my life I had crying fits to get what I wanted: bicycles, minibikes, motorcycles, cars. Even though I got what I wanted, I was ridiculed at family holiday gatherings: "He always gets what he wants!" My parents would give in to me but then I paid for it by them being angry with me about it. I thought to myself, "Why did Mom and Dad give in to me in the first place" and then make me pay emotionally?

Response: This example is sort of the other side of the coin from the previous example of "Child Holding Family Emotionnally Hostage" as this one shows the view of the child. Frequently, when children get their way in a passive-aggressive family it is at a cost. In this way, the parents can disavow themselves of any responsibility and place it on the children. In other words, they can believe they are being good parents while the child is being a brat: "He always gets what he wants!" What they don't realize is that if a child always gets his (or her) way, it is because the parents aren't effective parents. The job of a parent is to teach a child how to behave in an adult world.

The adult world won't give this young man everything he wants just because he has a winning smile or throws a fit. In fact, more likely, this man is now handicapped in the adult world. He may not know how to interact in an appropriate way to achieve his goals, unless, hopefully, he has developed awareness of the errors in his childhood lessons and made deliberate efforts to change. Parents who give in to children teach them to be obnoxious adults who have trouble in relationships and working with others.

When my son was young, I would say "no" to him just for practice. My practice and his. Parents don't want to say "no" because it doesn't feel good. They want their children to be happy and have what they want. But to be a good parent we must set limits. Keeping that in mind, I practiced saying "no" with the little things that didn't matter so that I would be able to say "no" with the big things. That also gave my son the practice of learning how to accept "no." In fact, when he was about 17, he said to me, "Mom, I'm glad you didn't spoil me. My friends who got everything they wanted are hard to get along with."

The lesson for today is set limits and say "no" to your children. Even though a tantrum-throwing child can be quite unpleasant, becoming a tantrum-throwing adult is even worse.



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