Dealing with other moms who are passive aggressive? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wasn't sure what forum to put this on, but there's a family member of mine who is constantly making passive aggressive comments. I've spent the last 4+ years just ignoring it, but I'm at the point where I can't stand it anymore. Calling her on it and actually trying to communicate isn't an option, so please don't suggest "talk it out" or something.

 

Her current topic of choice is telling me how much easier it must be having girls. I have one boy, two girls, and another girl due this summer.... she has 4 boys and is due with baby number 5 (doesn't know the gender yet).  My oldest is 4 1/2, then 3 1/2, and 22 months... life is NOT smooth sailing!  Her oldest is 12, then she has 7yr, 4yr, 2yr. 

 

I really feel no need to be competitive about who has a more difficult time parenting, but I'm so tired of the passive aggressive comments. I'm just looking for something to say, other than "yeah, my life sure is all rainbows and sunshine."  She isn't consistent with her kids, she never has been so it has nothing to do with the number or gender. Then when she sees my kids are well behaved, I guess it makes her self-conscious because I have to hear about how my life must be so easy compared to hers. I actually put a lot of effort into my kid's behavior. If I state that, she has a list of reasons why she can't do this or that, etc. etc. 

 

Right now, I'm thinking I should just comment back that she has no idea how hard closely spaced siblings are. Exactly how to word that in the moment, I'm not sure, lol. 

 

Maybe I just need to vent. I don't see any solution. But if anyone has a suggestion or encouragement, or stories of dealing with similar passive-aggressive mothers, I would appreciate hearing about it. 

 

Thanks. 

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#2 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 01:17 PM
 
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Ugh, those kinds of comments are so annoying, I'm sorry you have to deal with that.

I usually try to just remind myself that it's too bad that they feel insecure and need to cut others down to lift themselves up. But like you, I have those moments where I just want to snap back at them.

I really don't think it'll help though -- she has something invested in having the "hardest" life, and anything you say to try to reach a place of understanding, she'll just see as a challenge to her position as Most Put-Upon. Let her have her sucky, self-imposed "difficult" life and her silly title. Try to see it from a bemused place, like you're secretly chuckling with a best friend every time she makes one of her comments.
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#3 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 01:51 PM
 
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I think I'd agree with her. "You're right. It is easier having girls."  Then let her have her misery. It's what she wants.


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#4 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 02:48 PM
 
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I think I'd agree with her. "You're right. It is easier having girls."  Then let her have her misery. It's what she wants.

Yep, I think I'd probably say something like this. Or a kind of distracted "Oh. I don't know. I don't have anything to compare it to. [vague chuckle]" I'd be aiming for a huh, I never really thought about it and I'm still not kind of tone. It'd probably also be good if you could quickly follow-up with a change of subject to a topic completely unrelated to parenting. If there's anything you two agree on that would be the thing to go with. If not, something as neutral as possible.

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#5 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. I think I just needed some perspective and to vent! 

 

My husband is in school and works full time. This month has been really stressful on both of us with his final exams. I'm at my limit, and hearing about how my life is so easy from someone who has no clue, has just been the last straw. I mean, this woman has her 12 year old watch the younger kids while she takes hour long naps... I haven't had a nap since my second baby was born, lol. 

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#6 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 03:28 PM
 
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Maybe just nervously laugh and not engage in further conversation when she is being passive aggressive? Also avoid her as much as possible. . I understand you have to run into her at family gatherings but that doesn't mean you have to invite her to your home or otherwise socialize with . My ex sil is just awful so I've always avoided her

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#7 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 03:42 PM
 
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Maybe I shouldn't, but I would be tempted to say "Well, girls might be easier, but mine are closer together than yours, so I think we're about even." And smile. Though I would probably never get the nerve to say it.
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#8 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 04:43 PM
 
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So I still stand by my earlier answer, but if you were to respond, here are some potential replies:

"Yes, you keep telling me that." [bemused puzzlement]
"What do you mean?" [open sincerity]
"Ha! Good one!" [blithe distraction]
"I'm sorry you're having a tough time with your boys." [concern]
"What a thing to say." [measured silence]
"I don't know about that, but I sure do enjoy my kids." [clueless grin]

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#9 of 18 Old 05-22-2014, 05:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Red Pajama View Post
 

I think I'd agree with her. "You're right. It is easier having girls."  Then let her have her misery. It's what she wants.

Maybe give her kids the side eye while you say it ;)

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#10 of 18 Old 05-31-2014, 11:58 PM
 
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Maybe whenever she makes one of those martyr remarks, you can just silently congratulate yourself on what an awesome job you are doing that you make parenting look so easy. Be your own silent cheerleader :-) But I hear what you're saying, and sometimes a little validation for our hard work is still nice to hear from time to time (but it won't come from her I bet).
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#11 of 18 Old 06-01-2014, 12:21 AM
 
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How about "I am so sorry - your kids ARE awful."
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#12 of 18 Old 06-01-2014, 02:20 AM
 
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Loving the answers in #7 , #8 and #11 ! Granted, 11 is too evil to actually *do*, but by god I'd be tempted. (#7 doesn't strike me as out of line at all, by the way. I think it would be a great thing to say.)

I'd also be tempted to say 'Sure, wanna trade?' and then be willing to actually go with it! I suppose it's a bit too impractical to actually do, but if the two of you were to switch over and mind each other's kids for a day, you'd get a break and she might actually realise your kids *aren't* that easy and shut up for a bit!

And I second the advice to have as little to do with her as practically possible.

By the way, total kudos to you. I can't imagine dealing with three under-5s almost single-handed - you must be exhausted!
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#13 of 18 Old 06-02-2014, 04:30 AM
 
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How about "I am so sorry - your kids ARE awful."

 
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#14 of 18 Old 06-02-2014, 08:13 PM
 
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So I still stand by my earlier answer, but if you were to respond, here are some potential replies:

"Yes, you keep telling me that." [bemused puzzlement]
This one is my personal favorite, because it completely throws the ball back into her court.

It sounds like your friend just wants to have a pity party a bit, so that's are surefire way to shut it down when you need to! :-)

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#15 of 18 Old 06-10-2014, 12:57 AM
 
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I dealt with a similar situation a few months back and posted about it here. I think I interpreted the passive aggression as projected feelings; she would find a way to see my parenting success as an afront to her perceived weaknesses.
It really does feel bad when someone interprets your situation in a way that is more about themselves than you, especially when it comes the very passionate subject of parenting.
It should feel bad when people relate to us this way; it is a big red flag, and encourages us to note our differences and find a way to up a healthy boundary of some kind. Chatting about it like this to get some perspective is a great way to do that, I found.
Isn't knowing how to respond the hardest part? I hate feeling
like I indulge any of the passive aggression by being caught off guard and being polite...grrrrr...

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#16 of 18 Old 06-10-2014, 03:33 AM
 
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How about: "I don't want to talk about parenting."

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#17 of 18 Old 06-10-2014, 06:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post
So I still stand by my earlier answer, but if you were to respond, here are some potential replies:

"Yes, you keep telling me that." [bemused puzzlement]
"What do you mean?" [open sincerity]
"Ha! Good one!" [blithe distraction]
"I'm sorry you're having a tough time with your boys." [concern]
"What a thing to say." [measured silence]
"I don't know about that, but I sure do enjoy my kids." [clueless grin]
These. Particularly the first, or fifth. I feel like she wants an open discussion on parenting, and she somehow needs to feel like a victim/martyr. These responses refuse to give into the pressure to box YOU into the "oh em gee, life is easy" role and her into her respective "life is SO difficult" role.

If she presses the issue further after those responses, (A) she's worse than most people, who would take a hint and leave the conversation alone. (B) you can then say something like "oh, I don't really feel like discussing parenting right now" [chuckle]

I'm sorry- passive aggressiveness is the WORST.

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#18 of 18 Old 06-10-2014, 03:47 PM
 
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My friend did this a lot when she felt ooverwhelmed and I found that comments like "dd did that earlier today" or just joining in and sharing my hard moments helped both of us, she didn't feel alone and I had someone I ccould talk to who understood loving your child but being unhappy sometimes. That isn't easy to find ime. Many parents put on a game face or are just never stressed. We've been friends for 8 years now and I truly treasure having a friend who is able to accept any emotion I have and who has the same ones sometimes too.
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