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How Does Passive-Aggressive Disorder Affect Parenting?

By shelly thompson ; Updated June 13, 2017

Parenting skills are learned and developed from childhood, and are as specific to people as their experiences are. Successful parenting requires applying the positive skills you’ve learned to raising your own children. However, you might harbor some unhealthful behaviors in yourself, such as passive aggressive disorder. According to counselor, psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist Andrea Harrn, published on the website Counseling, passive aggressive behavior takes many forms.


Harrn explains that a passive aggressive parent might not always openly reveal anger or resentment, acting as though everything is fine when in reality they are upset. This inability to express true feelings and intentions is a destructive pattern that causes genuine trust in the parent and child relationship to deteriorate.


Passive aggressive tendencies include bottling up feelings and then expressing them with concealed or covert negative behaviors. Harrn describes these as sulking, stonewalling and giving angry looks. This type of parenting leaves children hurt and confused with no tangible way to resolve the negativity because they don’t have a clear idea of what the problem is, or what they have done wrong.


Passive aggressive behavior can be viewed as emotionally abusive, especially when it is chronically repeated and ongoing, Harrn says. It creates confusion and causes deep resentment, psychological pain and hurt to all parties involved. It often manifests in other negative and damaging behaviors, such as ignoring and refusing to communicate, including being ambiguous. It may also include procrastination, cynicism and obstructive manipulation toward processes of positive change. Blaming others and seeing one’s self as the victim is another trademark as well as withholding approval and affection, complaining and being resentful in order to get attention.


If you recognize yourself in the description of passive aggressive behaviors, make a commitment to evaluate the source of the behavior, assess the damage you are causing to your children and make positive changes. Often these behaviors have been instilled in you through your own childhood experiences as coping mechanisms and learned responses. According to the Associates in Counseling and Child Guidance, published at, environmental factors occurring in early childhood contribute to this disorder. Often, as a result of lack of nurturing and rejection from the mother, causing the child to feel deep anger. Passive aggressive behaviors develop because the child has fear of expressing this anger toward the parent. Don’t teach it to your children and let it repeat again. Start by being honest with yourself, communicating calmly, rationally and openly about the way you really feel.

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