Passive Aggressive Fathers & Effects On Their Daughters

I talk here quite a bit about my passive aggressive BF and how his passive aggressiveness as a parent has affected his youngest son. I also talk about my son and his passive aggressive behaviors. I’m so used to dealing with our two youngest boys and generalizing the passive aggressive parenting effects on them, but today I saw a search for “passive aggressive fathers and the effects on daughters” that it caught my attention.

I never thought as I was talking about the boys, about the parenting being gender specific. As I think about it girls and boys are different anyhow (duh), it only stands to reason they would handle parenting styles differently. Think about your siblings. They most likely didn’t turn out exactly like you.

I know what it did to my oldest daughter. It made her “needy” and very hard to let go of a relationship, even when it’s toxic. When she was little, my ex would treat her cold and exclude her every time he was mad at me. He would not be direct about it with her and she did not understand what was happening. I would “fix” it but the initial hurt I’m sure never left her. Now she’s always afraid of being “left”.

My own father, while a bit narcissistic, was also a bit passive aggressive. He had been a marine for 20 yrs., was raised by a marine, and called everyone “sir” and “ma’am” till the day he died. I’m sure he was never allowed to express his anger, emotions openly. I never thought about him being passive aggressive before, but he was great at making snide remarks and then acting so surprised and sorry if you were hurt. I just got used to the nicknames for being over weight or when he would tell me how lousy I sang. I didn’t realize at the time what an easy target it made me for anyone needing to conquer someone with less self-esteem and confidence than they had.

What about you? I’d be curious to know if you grew up with a passive aggressive father and you’re a daughter, (sons may join in too, but please specify you’re a son) how did it affect you? Are there things you do in your relationships now that are caused from how you were treated by your father as a kid? Has it caused pain in your life, or were you able to fight it?  Just leave comments below. It’ll be interesting to see how many ways this has an effect on us.

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29 Responses

  1. I don’t really have a handle on what being passive-aggressive is, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say that anybody I know is that way. I know how hard it is to let go of a relationship, even a toxic one… but I put that down to myself being unable to grasp how someone can know a person and yet push him/her aside. Perhaps I’m a believer in loyalty… but that does get you into trouble when you’re trying to maintain a friendship that isn’t good for you. It’s a coincidence you mention toxic friendships, as I was just writing about that myself!

    • Diddums- Thank you so much for stopping by. I enjoyed your post about friendships over on your blog.

      You’re lucky if you don’t have anyone passive aggressive in your life. They are a hard lot to live with. There’s nothing wrong with loyalty, although it can be painful to find out other people don’t seem to hold it in such high esteem. That has always been my daughters problem is they are very, very loyal. It just crushes them to find out their friends are not as loyal to them. Relationships can be so complicated! LOL.

  2. I was raised by the opposite of a passive aggressive parent. my dad never shut up…and i guess i’m a little like him…we just can’t seem to let things go and wind up ranting at times just to make a point. And, as I’m reading more about passive aggressives, I have learned that this is probably the reason my husband married me. As one of the articles said the P-A man looks for someone over-bearing..a “witch on wheels”…i guess that’s me. My husband has all the trademarks of PAPD, and I’ve known it for a long time. But, recently I’ve started to worry about how it would affect my daughters. He never says no. They dictate orders to him and he runs around trying to please them with his tail between his legs. And then, out of the blue he FREAKS out (yelling, throwing things) over some stupid little thing like a pair of pants on the floor. Completely mis-directed anger. What is this teaching them?? Are they going to try to find a man that they can boss around and over-look the occasional freak-outs? The thought of my babies winding up in the same situation I’m in with this relationship is very sad. I am constantly debating whether they’d be better off of we were divorced…maybe those of you raised by a PA parent could lend some insight!

    • Good Morning, livvymar, Happy Sunday!

      Welcome and thanks for your input.

      To tell you the truth, it’s hard to tell if your daughters will look for a man who is submissive like their father (we all have a tendency to fall for men who resemble our fathers) or if they will be attracted to someone who is totally opposite. Then there are the ones that sneak up on us (like in my case) that we don’t realize how much like our father the man we’ve chosen is, until we’re with them over a period of a little time. It’s hard to tell what a child will retain when they are older. I know I’ve thought about that with my own childhood and how some of the most non-sequential things influenced me, and some things my mother thought would have cut me to the core, I don’t even remember.

      My passive aggressive BF is very similar to your husband. He would never say anything no matter what was going on. Then after a 12 pack of beer every once in awhile, he would burst out at the kids very inapproptiately. I felt bad when he finally did speak up because I would have to tell him to be quiet. If he was going to say something, he needed to do it prior to the 12 pack. The kids would see right threw it and know it was just the beer talking. They don’t have any respect for that.

      Do you say anything to your husband when your daughters have him jumping? Or do you mention to your daughters that they need to be more respectful of their father? When he freaks out, do you calmly point out that what he’s throwing a fit over is so small and ask him what is really bothering him? You might also ask him in a heart-to-heart how he feels about the way the daughters treat him, or why he gives in as he does. The main thing here is to remain very calm if you want him to open up to you. Maybe start out with how bad you feel that your daughters asked him to…

      Those are all places you can start. When he has those freak-outs I think I would just emphasize to the girls that that isn’t the proper way to handle things and that it most likely has nothing to do with the real issue. Expressing how important communication is may help counteract some of the influence a passive aggressive has.

      As for a divorce, is that what you want? If you are that unhappy and that is what you really want to do, and you don’t see any hope for your marriage, than by all means that is probably what you should do. If you still love this man and want to work on working things out, then I would say just be open and communicative with your girls so you can counteract what he may be teaching them by his behavior. How do they feel about being able to boss their father around, or when he freaks out?

      Good luck and feel free to stop in anytime and let us know how things are going. I hope this has helped a little. Unfortunately some of your decisions are big ones and nobody can really help you make them, but at least you can talk your way through it here. Sometimes that’s all we need.

  3. I have never really thought about it til today but my father is very passive aggressive. Which has led me to be once passive aggressive myself and now dating a guy who is (in my opinion) strongly passive aggressive.

    My father is still married to my mother but they do not sleep in the same room and have not for years now, and this was his choice. My mom, acts as if she is fine with it. He has never said I love you and has always seemed closed and cold. The same goes toward my mother. Nobody talks about their feelings in a healthy way except me and that is only sometimes. This behavior has caused me alot of inner anger toward him and my mother. But at the same time I feel he is a good father because he is always there when I need him for things like fixing my car or picking me up if ever I need a ride, whatever the case may be. So in my mind I would always be torn, be upset because he would be cold but then not upset because he would do kind favors.

    All I know is it has caused me to be the same, I dated a guy for 5 years and he was amazing to me. Treated me like a queen, gave me all the attention in the world. Still gets me choked up talking about him. But yet I look back and I was nothing but passive aggressive to him. I would with hold sex from him for long periods of time, I would always manipulate him into making him feel guilty when in reality it was me just being unhappy. He was always to nice to put me in my place so its almost like he fed the behavior and it became worse. I eventually broke up with him and am now dating a guy that has my last relationship switched. He is the passive aggressive and I feed his behavior. He is a worse case then me though. He manipulates me to make me feel as if everything is my fault. He procrastinates on anything asked of him, he sulks when to many demands are put on him, he is extremely moody, can be secretive, and some how he always makes me feel like the choices he makes are things that convienence him if that makes sense.

    • Genevra- Hi and welcome. Thanks for sharing your story.

      It seems like you’re well aware of what passive aggressive behavior is and how it works in a relationship. It’s great that you recognize these tendencies in yourself. You can fix it in yourself. Your new relationship probably not so much. Since you are aware of what it is and what it looks and acts like, I’m rather surprised that you would choose to stay in a relationship like you’re in. While I do get it that your probably in your “comfort zone” because that’s what you grew up in, you surely don’t want to end up like your parents do you? And what if you choose to have children some day?

      Maybe it would be good to give other relationships a break right now, and concentrate on loving and fixing yourself. Then once you fix yourself, you can find a happy, healthy relationship. You know, even though sometimes we sabotage a good thing for us because it’s not what we’re used to, it’s up to us to break the cycle so we don’t pass it on. Have you sought out any therapy or group support? It really helps. They say we end up picking men who remind us of our fathers. I would not have agreed with that at the beginning, but the longer I’m with my BF the more true that is, even if it was subconciously. You have to remember, you’ve had better before, and you deserve to be treated better and have true happiness now. You don’t have to settle for less.

      Good luck and please, stop in and let us know how you’re doing. Sometimes it just feels good to get it off your chest. LOL

  4. For a long time i have been searching the internet trying to find something that actually relates to this sort of problem…yours is the first! its a good one too! im only 13 years old and have been very unhappy for a long time now. i havent had a very strong relationship with my dad since i was very young—and not even that i can remember. as soon as i started being able to speak for myself, present my own veiws and opinions, we seemed to end up angry with eachother alot. i dont think my dad liked me being able to do that. i used to get alot of stick from him and still do–i thought it was just because i was a girl! he was always such a good mate with my younger brother! only a couple of years ago did i start to get back at him….because itd been bottled up inside me for years. he is really aggressive with me at times and i have to admit that i am scared of him. although i am angry with him too and am most of the time the same back. this is probably because of the way he is and always has been with me. he always accuses me for things i havent done and when i hear him and mum arguing he always reffers to the problem or it being my doing. or atleast it seems that way. i have been so unhappy lately due to problems at school and to make things worse….even bigger problems at home. i think mum loves dad. its just he makes her unhappy but she says its me aswell because we are too similar and thats why we dont get along. i am nothing like him! i dont even want to try and be friends with him anymore because i am so fed up. obviously i cant explain all my problems to you-this being one of the biggest. i just really feel like i need some advice at this moment in time as i am scared of my dad and have at times been so depressed that i have felt scuicidal. and how pathetic does that sound? coming from a 13 year old? i really need some advice. thanks :) x

    • Wilcox- Nice to meet you and so glad you decided to share your story.

      Actually, believe it or not, I know exactly how you feel. My dad and I were best buds until I got a little older (reached puberty). I was raised very strict and I was afraid of my father too. He was a Marine and had very high standards for how I was supposed to behave, manners, etc. More than being afraid of him though, I still loved him a lot and didn’t want to disappoint him, so it seemed like everything he said was even more harsh than if I had gotten in trouble by my mother, cuz that happened all the time. LOL. (of course. She was with me all the time while my father was working most of the time). He too use to accuse me of taking drugs when I came back from a friends, etc. Stuff I never was doing. I would get so upset and cry because at that time we didn’t have tests and stuff like we do now, so I couldn’t prove it. I needed him to trust and believe me. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

      FATHERS ARE SCARED OF THEIR DAUGHTERS AS THEY START GROWING UP. LOL. They don’t understand you. Most of them don’t really understand how the female body works, so they don’t understand when you start growing (breasts, etc), and they don’t understand what is important to a girl at 13 compared to a girl at 4. They don’t know how to touch you anymore without it seeming inappropriate. When you were little they could wrestle with you or tickle you like you were one of the boys, but you’re beginning to be a young lady now. Things have changed and he isn’t sure how to handle it.

      Tell you a funny story. This is just the opposite, but ohhh, so true. I am a single mom. I have a son. I don’t really know how men handle the “talk” with their sons about how their bodies are changing etc., but I was all he had. So we had a talk one day about the changes boys go through and what happens with their bodies. I thought everything was cool and I felt really good about the talk. That night my son had a nightmare. He woke up his sister crying because he thought something had happened abnormal to his testicals and he was scared to death! Now to this day I don’t know what I said to him that was wrong, but evidently I said something to him that frightened him. If he had had a normal “father-son” chat I doubt that would have happened.

      You know, us parents don’t know it all, although we would like you kids to think we do. You didn’t come with instructions. Sometimes you have to allow for us to screw up too. You’re Dad is afraid of so many things with you, plus he’s going to feel very protective. You are his little girl no matter how old you get. He’s terribly afraid of the world hurting you, he’s even more afraid of the words “Daddy I’m pregnant” and he’s deathly afraid of doing something wrong.

      You have a long way to go until you’re of age to leave home. You sound like a really smart young lady. If you start to understand where he’s coming from, maybe you can cut him a little slack. You really can’t change him, but you can change how you look at him. You’re going to come to “blows” so to speak as the years progress and you are going through high school, etc. but he is looking out for your best interest, even if he doesn’t always do it the right way. How would you handle him if he was a puppy that was hurt and when you tried to reach out to help him, he growled at you? Would you just say “Screw you puppy” and leave him to fend for himself or die? Or would you spend some time, trying to let that puppy get to know you, sniff your hand, learn to trust you and then still try to take him home and help him? Doesn’t your father deserve about the same?

      I want you to know Wilcox, I’m not siding with him. It’s just easier for you to adjust than it is for him. And I also know the question going through your head as I say that is “But why should I be the one? Why should I have to?” Because you have a chance to change things and bring about a change for him. He’s been this way forever. He’s this way because this is how his parents probably were with him. When you grow up and have children you can break the cycle, but for now you just need to make things the best they can be for you. The easiest way to do that is to accept him for who he is, you either love him or you don’t, and you know you have your whole life in front of you. Hey Girl! You have a whole lifetime to change the world! This is small potatoes, as us old folks say.

      Believe it or not, he’s been out there. He probably knows how cruel it can be. He’s just trying to protect you. Maybe if you could talk to him sometime and tell him how you feel, you may find out how he really feels. Sometime when you have a moment, just tell him “I don’t feel like you love me anymore. Why not?” or whatever it is you’re feeling. If you can do it when things are calm, you may be surprised at the answers you get. And if he answers with “I love you” like it’s the end of the conversation, then ask him “Then what’s changed between us and why don’t you show it anymore?” It’s up to you to seek the answers your heart is looking for, just as you have here. I hope this has been some help to you. Please come back anytime and talk to me. It takes me a few hours sometimes, as it did today, but I usually check in pretty often.
      Good luck. Now you Go Girl!

    • Sweetheart I just saw your note. I hope you are feeling a little less depressed. You need someone in your home town who can help you feel better about yourself, and I hope since you wrote this december note tht you have had a chance to see a counselor. In the States there are counselors you can contact through the schools, for an initial evaluation. However, if you speak to your parents,and tell them you have been very depressed and need help, they will find you a counselor. Even if you are feeling a little better ,it would still be a good idea. And it is urgent if you get to thinking about suicide again.
      These feelings are strong and painful and based on complicated family intereactions which are hard to untangle but it can be done, to make you feel more sure of yourself and confident of yur abillity to be happy . You are not pathetic, but a very articulate girl in pain.

  5. This happened yesterday.

    I had switched work shifts with a co-worker and was home when my father came home from work. I was laying in bed, taking a short nap before meeting my boyfriend for dinner. My father came in the house, came up the stairs and called out to me to help him with something.

    I met him at the top of the stairs in front of the bathroom door. The bathroom door was ajar about 3-4 inches. He motioned at the door as if something were wrong with it. I looked at the door and said, essentially, “Yes?” He asked me if I were “heating the bathroom,” and snarled on the last part.. the BATHROOM.. very very quickly grabbed the handle of the door and shut it extremely hard. He then turned on his heel and walked away, saying nothing.

    I called after him, asking if he thought that was a reasonable response to an open door. He did not reply so I asked again. When he didn’t respond, I told him that I thought he was behaving like a psycho. He said something equivalent to, “Yes, yes.. .”

    Mind you, I had not seen him in many hours, upwards of twelve. He never said hello to me when he came in the house. He had only been home about four minutes when this occurred. There was no context for it, no precipitating event, nothing that would have reasonably provoked such a response. I have received no apology for this, no acknowledgment whatsoever.

    The effect is dehumanizing. It seems I am treated as an unappreciated, wayward servant instead of one of his two beloved children.

    I know his behavior is not about me, but it really bothers me. He used to exhibit this kind of unprovoked, extreme anger at minor things when I was growing up, when he was an alcoholic. He has been sober for 14 years. Might add, this is from a man who has a master’s degree in communication. He is capable of engaging his brain and mouth in conjunction with each other, I have seen it plenty of times. I just truly don’t know why he chose to revert to such obvious P/A behavior. When I was a kid and dependent on him for my survival, I had no control over these incidences. Now that I am an adult, I can choose who I allow in my life. To his detriment I may choose not to allow him around me anymore. I haven’t decided yet.

    • Erin- Thanks for leaving a note.

      Your Dad sounds kinda like a hard ass, aye? (No offense) I can understand why you feel like you do. A “hello” at least is always nice before somebody starts jumping on you. It’s funny. In my house if the bathroom door is closed, we think someone must be in there. If it’s closed for very long, we start to look around to see who’s missing. LOL. Just different ways of being brought up I guess.

      That is terrific your father has been sober for 14 yrs. Unfortunately some of the alcoholic behavior never goes away, no matter how long they stay sober. Getting sober doesn’t solve their problems, as it appears you can attest to. On top of that some of them never really learn how to act without having to be drinking. I don’t know how long your father drank before he got sober, or how bad he was, but many of those traits can be deeply ingrained in his personality.

      Even though he’s stopped drinking, you still live with the effects of when he was. You might want to consider Al-Anon. It’s a great support group for helping to try to understand some of what he’s probably still going through. Even though he’s got a masters in communication, we have a tendency to treat our family members differently than we do friends or associates. It’s a shame since it’s our family that really cares about us, but it seems to be a major pattern with human nature.

      I’m afraid it’s when things happen like you describe above that I tend to get a little playful. See if next time instead of letting him upset you because he’s making a big deal out of something so trivial, you sincerely look at him and say something like “You must have had a really bad day. Do you want to talk about it?” If nothing else, you’ll surprise the heck out of him! “Killing him with kindness” is an extraordinary concept that works quite well, and you may find he doesn’t get to you quite so easily. Good luck.

      Please, stop back by and let us know how you’re doing.

      • My boyfriend suggested a passive-aggressive, amusing response. Since my father will be 75 on January 1st, he suggested collecting some assisted living pamphlets and casually leaving them around the house.. LOL

        Now that would sure be P/A!

        I had a woman at work tonight do a meditation session with me. It’s cleared away the gunky feelings and reinforced my feelings that he does have old anger issues that are probably from his drinking days or earlier. In any case, his anger and the way he chooses to express it has nothing to do with me and I am not going to let it hurt me.

        You’re doing a good thing here by allowing people to share their experiences. It’s helpful. Thank you.

        • Erin- Thank you so much for sharing. That cracks me up! Your BF obviously has a good sense of humor. I did actually LOL. It’s funny to me especially because that’s sort of why I have my mother. My sister always told her early on if my mother went to her she was going in a H O M E. LOL.

          I’m so glad you had a woman to share with and help you. When you think about it, your dad has 61 years of being the way he was before he got sober. At 75 it’s just too hard to fight it. I have a friend that has a mother who is 72, and while he does his best to be the “good son” he also tries to limit his time with her. A few years ago when we were talking he was stewing about the upcoming family Christmas get together, and I asked him “after all these years, why would you expect her to change? She’s not going to change. You either have to accept that she’s the way she is or stay away from her”. He got a little upset with me at the moment, but he’s since said it changed their whole relationship. When he realized that she had been how she was for sooo many years it changed how he looked at her. Now a lot of times instead of getting upset with her, he just feels sorry for her. They are so old, stubborn and bitter by life, not anything we’ve done, that they’ll just never change, and never know the true joy life can bring. That’s pretty sad.

          Anyway, you have a wonderful Christmas. I like the fact that your BF supports you and seems to have a really good sense of humor, because with so many things in life, that’s a huge asset. Thank you very much for the compliment. I’m glad you find the site helpful. That’s all I’m trying to do. Everyone that leaves a comment helps me too. It’s definitely not a one-way street. LOL. God Bless.

  6. I grew up with the very definition of a PA father. Both of my marriages ended up with PA men. My mom was miserable my ENTIRE childhood, and finally mustered up the strength to leave him when I was 20 and out of the house. Her next relationship, now 15 years in the making, is even worse. My dad was very passive and NEVER paid attention to my mom. He was raised without any affection, and he has no idea how to give it. He was a workaholic and an alocholic and spent more time at work and the bar than he ever did at home. The man she is with now will never committ, has yet to ask her to marry him (15 years!!!!) and they break up constantly. He cheated for the first 5 yrs of their relationship, yet she stayed because he made HER feel like it was HER fault that she wasnt interesting enough to keep him from straying. I used to feel sorry for her, but since she chooses to stay after everything he has pulled (he has never had a real job and mooches off of her), I no longer feel sympathy or empathy for her situation. Yet here I am, married to a PA myself – just in a different way. It is like this cycle no one can break!!

    • Freaking Out- Welcome. I’m glad you found something useful here.

      You know what’s great about this is that you see that it’s a cycle. Now the tough part is, it’s up to you to break it, and you can. I don’t know if you’ll break it with the man you’re with, but if not you can certainly break it in the future. Now you know exactly what to look for, what it looks like, and what you don’t want. It’s funny. I never realized my father was passive aggressive until I got involved with my passive aggressive boyfriend. LOL. I’ve found a way to make it work for me for now, doesn’t mean it works for everyone all the time.

      You’re on the right track. It’s up to you to break it now. “If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem”. That’s one of my favorite quotes. Maybe growing up with a PA father is why you get involved with PA men. It’s comfortable, even tho it makes you unhappy. It’s familiar, but you don’t have to live with that. You can change it. It’s just got to be more painful being in the situation than out.

      Good luck. Feel free to come by and vent, etc. anytime you need to just “let it out”.

  7. Hi – thankyou for this site. I am only just learning about passive aggressive behaviour – my husband has all the characteristics of PA and has been very confusing to live with for years. He has been secretive, says one thing but backtracks immediately and does the opposite, lives in his own little world half the time, becomes the victim if anyone criticises him and blames the whole world for anything bad happening to him, refuses to take responsibility for his actions and wonders why people have a go at him. I am currently in counselling as our marriage is on the verge of break up, largely because of this, and have been taken back to my childhood where I now realise my father and two elder brothers were exactly the same. In short, I have never known anything else and have chosen the same type – probably because it is familiar – and it is only now that I realise that so much of the anger I have nursed some 40 years should have been directed at my brothers and my father. I have always known that I was scared of my dad through childhood, but it is only now that I am realising that I was also scared of my brothers. All 3 of them were cold towards me, never playing with me, never taking an interest, and when there were fleeting moments, they were bullying ones, both emotionally and physically. Even now, upon meeting, some comment will be thrown about how I look ‘for fun’ and the put downs will roll out. I have just written them both an honest and open letter finally telling them how they have made me feel – it will have reached them today – and I am now shaking and feeling sick because I know this will have made them angry. Why am I so scared of them? I don;t understand. What can they possibly do that they haven’t done already?

    It is interesting to read that daughters of PA fathers, and I guess younger sisters of PA brothers end up needy and find it hard to let go of even toxic relationships. That’s me to a tee. I’m ultra confdent in my work, but when it comes to men, so very scared of them leaving me, even when they are making my life a misery. Its all very confusing. Can anyone help me undertstand?

    • Confused and Scared- Welcome. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Usually I’m a little faster with a reply, but life, taxes, etc. Glad to see you found us and thanks for sharing your story.

      I can only imagine how awful it must be to be at the mercy of not only an insensitive father, but to have to deal with the brothers also, nothing like a “triple whammy”. You don’t mention anything about your mother. Was she around while you were going through all this? Did she try and protect you at all?

      I’m glad to hear you’re seeing a therapist. It sounds like you’re making some headway if you’re starting to realize suppressed anger and you’re letting your brothers and father know how you feel. Instead of being afraid of making them angry, it would be great if you could feel good about finally being able to let it all out, no matter how they take it. You have a right to your feelings, and you also have a right to not allow someone to cross certain “boundries” when it comes to their interaction with you. If they treat you poorly, you really don’t want or need them in your life anyway. I know that’s easier said than done, but sometimes we just have to let toxic relationships go, even if they’re family.

      You’re right about us having a tendency to pick a partner or spouse that has the same qualities we are use to, instead of something better for us. This isn’t just you. We all have a tendency not to want to travel out of our comfort zone. Now that you’re starting to see all this, you can start to fix it. You also should be starting to value yourself more, and as you do, you will find you won’t be so afraid of a man leaving you. You’ll be more inclined to want them to let go if they can’t see the value in what you have to offer also. I’m sorry to hear your marriage is on the verge of breaking up, but if your husband is treating you as the men in your family did, maybe it’s time to let him go also. It’s a big, beautiful life out there, but we can’t truly experience it’s beauty until we decide we’re worthy of it and refuse to be treated to anything less.

      One of the things that will help is to start working on your own self-esteem. You’ve had a lifetime of men taking it away from you, now it’s time for you to build it back up. Start doing the things that make you feel good. Hang out with friends that are supportive. Remember the times people appreciated something you did for them, or you did exceptionally well. Get a little fun back in your life. If you’re ultra confident at work, take some pride in that and knowing you can stand on your own two feet if you have to. Let that confidence spill over to your personal life.

      We can’t really change anyone else, but we can change us and our reaction to others. Good luck to you. It sounds like your therapist has you off to a good start. Feel free to drop in anytime and let us know how you’re doing. Would love to hear how it goes when you start hearing back on your letters, if you do. In the meantime, remember you are number 1. Take care of yourself first.

  8. Hi – thankyou for this site. I am only just starting to learn about PA behaviour. My husband has all the characteristics and has been an absolute nightmare to live with for years – always making out that I was the paranoid one and confusing me completely, when actually it is his PA that is causing the problems. He refuses to talk about the effect he has, says one thing and does the opposite, procrastinates until the baliffs letters come and then I have to sort it out, is cold towards my children [2nd marriage] and assumes the victim role whenever I raise an issue that annoys me. Our marriage is on the verge of break up & I am in counselling, and have been taken back to my childhood and made to talk about my relationship with my father and my 2 older brothers. It is only now that I realise that certainly my dad and possibly my brothers were/are also PA. My father was emotionally unavailable to me and could floor me with a look. The worst thing in the world was to make him angry, and yet he would just sit there at home, not doing anything for the house or us. My brothers were so distant from me and still are, so I would hound them for any response, which usually resulted in me getting hurt. There were no family times in our house as far as I can remember and i was invcredibly lonely. I have always known I was scared of my father with his subtly bullying ways, but hadnt realised until now how scared of my brothers I was and still am. Yesterday I finally wroite them a letter telling them how they made me feel all these years – it will have reached them by now and I am shaking and feeling sick at the thought of their wrath. Why? They cant do anything to me they havent already done! Why should I be so scared of them at the age of 42?

    It is interesting to read that daughters of PA fathers and I guess by default, younger sisters of PA brothers, end up needy and find it impossible to let go of even toxic relationships. That’s me to a tee. When I met myu husband I knew it wasnt right and the way he treated me was appalling – but I made excuses for years and stayed. All that did was build up however and destroy my confiidence, self esteem and trust until I am a nervous wreck. I am ultra confident in my work, intelligent enough and a good leader, but I have noticed that I am withdrawn from groups, prefer my own company, and have a distrust of a lopt of people – mostly women for some reason. With the men in my life, I am totally helpless it seems – miserable at being treated so badly, and yet terrified to leave. Can someone explain why I feel this way? Can PA behaviour be changed? Or do I really have to leave my husband?

    • Confused and Scared- Hello again. Thanks for sharing a little more of your background.

      You’re right about the letter and your brothers reactions to it. Really, what are they going to do, and what did you have to lose by letting them know after all this time how you feel? I think that’s an excellent thing to do. Writing letters and getting a chance to express yourself is a great therapy, even if you never mail it. I think what you did is a big step in maybe finally healing some of the hurt.

      As far as your husband, I’m afraid I’m not a big fan in staying in an abusive relationship, even if it’s mentally abusive vs. physically. If he has always treated you poorly, if he cannot see the value in who you are, maybe it’s time to let him go on his way also. Not only that, but you say he’s not good to your kids either. What damage is happening there? Do you really want that to continue? Are they getting the idea from the example you set that that is how relationships are supposed to be? Don’t you want better for them and yourself? You are still plenty young enough to find real happiness out there, but you have to be willing to let go of old habits and toxic people in your life.

      You say about not trusting women, and I couldn’t help but notice in neither of your comments here have you mentioned your mother. Maybe the reason you have such a dislike for women is because your own mother never helped protect you from your father and your brothers. Maybe you never got the love and nurturing from your own mother that sort of sets a model for our relationships with other women in our lives. You’re feeling betrayed by your own mother and helpless to fight the abusive behavior from your own family would explain a lot about the way you feel now.

      There’s good news and bad news. You’ll never change your husband. If he was bad in the beginning, and he’s bad now, he’ll probably always be the way he’s always been. The good news is, you can cut to the chase and start on fixing you. The letters were a good first step. Now you need to remind yourself you’re an adult now, and the way things were in your childhood don’t have to be the way things are now. Start allowing yourself to see women as friends and try to be a little more open. Enjoy groups, as they are a great source of support and ideas. It all takes practice because it feels so foreign at first, but you’ll get there. Life is too short to not enjoy the people that actually want to love you and appreciate you. Yes, you are worthy.

      Good luck to you. Please feel free to respond, or stop by anytime and let us know how you’re doing. We’re all here to support each other. This is one place you are with people who understand what you’re going through.

  9. Reading these entries has given me comfort. I will probably delete this, I am always so scared of stuffing things up. I never know what mood I will find my husband in when I get home – I hate it! Making a big fuss to the kids about little things and withdrawing affection from me is very familiar. He is so inconsistant with the kids and everytime I try and talk to him about an issue with them he just throws back stuff at me. I am willing to discuss issues if he thinks I am doing something wrong, but he never brings anything up until I ask him why he overreacts and I just have to say something. I know he was treated badly as a kid. Today I witnessed the worst copycat behaviour from my 9 yr old son to my 5 yr old son. The 5 yr old screamed in pain holding his bottom, which my 9 yr old felt very justified in smacking really hard for scratching him. I understand the 5 yr old was naughty, but the 9 yr old let loose on him. The big question is how can I stop my children, especially the eldest boy from copying and having the next generation repeat the cycle. I have tried innumerable times to discuss with husband, but he is PERFECT and makes me feel like I am crazy and “full of crap”. I know what I am seeing/hearing is not normal. I grew up in a home where I felt completely safe. My children do not. My daughter is scared to stay home with him. It scares her when he yells etc. I always say to the kids, just stay out of his way, read a book, don’t talk to him/leave daddy alone, give into the little one – so there is no drama and no need for him to go mad. My eldest son seems to get picked on by him all the tiime. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t , my son just can’t do the right thing if husband is in mood to rant and rave. He doesn’t over drink by the way. Any time he has had a couple too many at a party etc he is soooo much nicer!!! I can just get on with it most of the time, but what about my kids, what can I say to them to help them cope??? Please help me. Thank you for your time.

    • Sounds Familiar- Welcome. I’m so glad you are able to find some comfort here at the site, knowing you are not the only one who has to deal with this kind of problem. I’m so glad you decided not to “delete” your comment. It sounds like a lot of suffering at your house.

      I’m sorry to say, but my usual advice to someone in your position is to get out, especially if you can already see your husband’s behavior being reenacted through your children. Your children are children. They shouldn’t have to be “out of site, out of mind” every time their father is around. If the bigger ones have to keep giving into the little one, the little one all his life will think every time he throws a fit he will get his way. By the time he is a teenager, you won’t be able to stand him. LOL.

      If your husband refuses to see the error of his ways when it comes to parenting, there is not a whole lot you can do to change him. You might see if your children’s school has any parenting classes you might get him to attend, or maybe your county health dept. Other than that, you will just always be having to run interference for your children. After all, it is your job to protect them. Not to spoil them by over compensating, or feeling guilty, but to protect them.

      What you can do is have a good, honest talk with your children. Explain to your son that his father picking on him is not always his fault. Some people just don’t know how to channel their anger toward their job or others, so sometimes they take it out on the wrong people. Explain to your son that it his father’s problem, not him, and that you love him. Remind him that he is a good boy and just that sometimes don’t behave as they should. Remind him also that he is way to big to be hitting his little brother. If he is having a problem with his brother to come tell you and you will handle it. It’s not his place. He wouldn’t like some big boy in high school to be hitting him. Try and let it be a safe place for him to talk openly with you about what he is feeling about his father, his brother. Let him get some of the stuff he thinks about off his chest.

      As for your daughter, I would try to have an open and honest talk with her also. It sounds like you already have a head start as you already know she is afraid of her father. You can let her know you are there for her, that she can come to you about anything, including anything about her father. I think girls have a tendency to be a little more easily intimidated by their fathers, especially if they are big, loud and angry. Unfortunately if this continues, she may never be able to stand up for herself to any man, especially one that is abusive. She’ll always be intimidated. I was just reading about an assertiveness class for little girls today. I don’t know what area you live in or how old your daughter is, but there is a group named the “Girls Leadership Institute”. If you want to take a look at it just google it, and it will come up. They may have something similar in your area. It would help her with the tools to be assertive against bullying, etc. no matter who it’s from, and give her a little more confidence.

      I wish I could offer you more. If you are going to continue to be with this man, about the only thing you can do is keep communication open between you and your children, letting them know that you love them very much, and stick up for them when necessary. And don’t be surprised if they all need counseling as they get older.

      Take care and good luck. Feel free to come back anytime to let us know how it’s going, or if you have a particular incident you would like some feed back on. Many of us on here have gone through raising children while living with a passive aggressive. Hopefully you’ll get something useful.

  10. I just found your site and think it is a great resource. My situation is unique. I am a daughter of a passive aggressive father. I’m 34 and have returned to school to finish my degree and so has my new husband. Due to finances, my father opened up his home to us while we are in school, which was very generous. (My mother passed away three years ago.) Since we moved in he has made hints that we are a burden, that he can’t travel because we are living with him. We pay rent and buy groceries, so all the bills he pays he would have whether we were there or not. He treats my husband one way when I’m around and a completely different way when he thinks I’m not around. He treats him with contempt and is very short with him. When we eat dinner together my father will only talk to me and ignores my husband. My father recently wrote a letter to us saying that we need to make our own way in the world and that help from family and friends is charity and that’s undignified, basically that we were mooches. When I read the letter in front of him (because he hates confrontation and won’t say this to my face) I started crying, he then said that it was a journal entry/ramblings of an old man and took it back before my husband even had a chance to read it. Then he changed the direction of conversation. I too hate confrontation and am somewhat passive aggressive, so I’m having a difficult time confronting my father about his behavior. Not only because of my own shortcomings, but because we are living under his roof by his good graces. We just don’t have the money to move out right now, although we desperately want to. What I don’t understand is why he continues to give me mixed messages; he says that he likes having us live with him, but he make all the hints about how we are a burden and mooching off of him. If he feels that way, why doesn’t he tell us to get out? I’m hurt and confused and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to confront him and get the truth out of him with out making him mad and getting put out on my ear, so to speak.

  11. II came across this site after roaming the internet to search out ways to get over feelings of resentment that I was feeling knowing that I should let it go for my own sake. Let me back up a couple of hours.

    I have been on the verge of tears most of this afternoon as I was feeling guilt over my ‘insensitive, selfish’ reaction to my grieving sister-in-law’s” perceived ‘slight’. She lost her brother just last week to HPS. I always try not to be intrusive to others in high emotional situations, but I really felt I wanted to offer to bring dinner home her and my brother’s family after work for them. I know the next couple of days with viewings and the funeral are going to be draining – I was 24 when I lost my first husband suddenly to illness a year after we were married and remember the little things that people did help some, Not knowing if they were dealing with legal issues for guardianship of their nephew or the estate, I sent a text message just asking if they had plans for dinner. I didn’t get a response which I normally would have, so just sent another when I was getting closer to leaving work so I could order something that the kids would eat. Instead of responding, she had my brother call to decline.

    Now I KNOW that I should NEVER take anything personally from a person who is grieving and especially when the pain is this fresh – she was likely overwhelmed by everything that has to be done and her own feelings and guilt over the possible circumstances of her brother contracting HPS…..

    But I DID – then I immediately felt extreme guilt over my ‘extreme’ selfish behavior. Now how did this lead me here…. I came across a couple of nice self-help areas that helped me cope with my feelings of this immediate situation. Rationally, I knew right away that reacting the way I did to the perceived slight was petty and childish under normal circumstances, but irrationally it still hurt as I wanted to just be there for my brother and his family. So it was fairly easy to put my feelings in their place and not hold anything against my sister-in-law.

    However, what I did start to realize was that my reaction to the situation stemmed from something much deeper – It boils down to my relationship with my recovering alcoholic, passive agressive father and my distant mother (this was a result of being molested as a child and manifested itself in many ways.) For years, I totally denied my issues with relationships and the massive mistakes I made in choosing them had anything to do with my parents. My rational mind told me that I believed I had control over my actions and my choices were my own. I still believe my choices are my own, but I have come to realize that my less than rational choices are usually colored by the person I became growing up in the home that I did. I have done a lot of soul searching and am aware of the fact that I will never have the relationship with my father that I would like because I do not fit the mold that he had created for his children. My brother and sister-in-law do and reap the rewards on so many levels. I, on the other hand, feel excluded from the club, but while I have made the choice to accept things as they are, I have a long ways to go in really accepting it. My mother, while thinking she is helping, will often make it worse by telling me he should treat me differently – doesn’t help – just helps me wallow in self pity. (They divorced when my brother and I were in our late 30’s) I think I have put my relationship with Dad in its place and something sucks me back in and the results are my reactions to the situation today on many levels. My need to be the one quietly making everything better in the background. My need for approval. My need for belonging in the club that Dad has created that only allows me on the surface.

    So….I could continue to write tonight, but this could turn into a novel this – I’m not sure if anyone can follow my ‘bunny trail’ of insensitive reaction to grieving person to passive-aggressive father, but its there – I just didn’t know I’d find it tonight as I explored ways to release what I was feeling – right or wrong.

  12. I grew up with a passive agressive father, and an activly aggressive mother. I can honestly say that my father hurt me much more, in an emotional way than my mother did. He´s the kind of man that want´s to be liked by everyone, but deep inside he holds people in contempt, even his own daughters. When I was little, I adored him, and he´d make me his favourite. But when I grew up and saw through his facade and cold him out on it he gave me the cold shoulder, and is now treating me like I´m an enemy. He´s always been controlling and emotionally abuse, and looking back, I think he is a narcissist, without capacity to connect with his family, although he might love us in his own strange way. The most painful thing to me is that my daddy who I love so much actually doesn´t love himself. Deep inside I think he´s hurting. He is an alcoholic, but like a typical narcissist – he puts on a facade, and is a wellrespected member of the society. Only his family knows the truth. I have always been terrified of my father, because he can explode ANY time, without any logical reason. And yet, he can be the most soft-spoken person when he wants to.
    The effect of his passive agressive and unpredictable behaviour is that everyone around him feels “down” when he´s around. He´s an energy vampire. And the thing that makes me the most angry is that I cannot escape him even now, because I´ve turned out like him! The passive aggressiveness, the rage, the hurt has all been transcended onto me. I never fight, and I never say no to anyone. Infact I am slightly autistic, but not by birth, but by life experience.
    I am also only attracted to passive aggressive men, who obviously cannot heal me, but I had a longterm relationship with an openly aggressive man too, and it was terrible. I prefere passive aggressiveness I guess. I wish I could find a man that is healthy emotionally, but whenever a healthy man shows interest in me I withdraw.
    Passiveaggressive fathers SUCK. I hate my father (Although I love him too, just wished him a happy birthday.. :/ )

  13. I have just finally figured out that my ex (daughter’s father) is a PA. It all makes total sense..his mother is SO overbearing/controlling of him..he still lives at home at the age of 34!! We have been on/off for about 5 years and I have little self-esteem left and was always the one to try and fix our relationship. He barely had anything to contribute to the conversations but would throw me a bone once in a while to pacify me. Now that I know that he is a PA I feel free! He can’t make me feel crazy or hurt me anymore because I’m on to him! With that said, I love him (I hate that I love him) and am sad that I realize I can NEVER be with him.
    I am looking for some advice. I still have to deal with him on a regular basis as our daughter is only 3. She goes to his mom’s house (where he lives) usually every weekend. His mom and I DO NOT get along. She interferes in everything in his life, totally controlling – which explains why he is a PA now. Okay, so here are my questions:

    1. How do I deal with him now that I know he is a PA? He’s constantly LATE EVERY weekend. He tries to screw up any plans I might have and tries to make it very hard for me to hold a job.

    2. How do I recover from this? I now realize I am a PA magnet and most of the relationships I have been in are with a PA. I have very little self esteem left and want to learn why I choose these men and how to change it. And how to build my confidence up again!!

    3. MOST important: Will my daughter feel the way I do having a PA father (unloved, confused, frustrated, abandoned)? Although their time together is limited and will probably be as limited as possible now that I know he is a PA…how will this affect her and what can I do to help her? I have already put myself in check to make sure that I am encouraging her to express her feelings, especially anger…

  14. I had narcissistic parens, so I was ripe for the pickings by a PA man. Used to sublimating my needs and being scapegoated, it was easy for me to become the locus (again) of another person’s rage. PAs and narcissists also share the following: an inability to empathize.

    I tried everything, everything to make my relationship work; however, after 25 looong years,wherein none of my most basic needs are met, I’m done. Instead of being enraged, I just give back exactly what’s been given. If he’s a void, I’m the great black hole in the universe. If he wants to do anything, I immediately detach. He can do it alone. That way, I’m not waiting around, never criticized, rarely frustrated. I expect nothing of him, and give nothing to him. I have my own friends and interests. I live a life apart and don’t share it with him.

    PAs are sadistic. You can howl with rage and pain until the end of time, and you’re just “whistling in the wind.” A few years ago, I had a stroke, and my PA refused to believe me (because it meant that he would have had to get out of bed “early” – 9:30 a.m. – and drive me to the hospital. I went to the hospital myself. This was a turning point, to say the least.)

    I’ve armed my daughters with information about their PA father. Knowledge is power. And now none of us “play.” When faced with his PA behaviour, we simply let him know he has a serious mental illness that is outside of our scope to help. Of course, he wants to know what it is. Taking a stripe from his PA, we don’t bother to let him know; he can get himself to a psychiatrist. If he’s procrastinating, we leave. If he’s being obstructionist, we just carry on.

    One day, we’ll all be gone. He’s just beginning to believe it. Am I being a bitch? Yes. Am I being sadistic? Yes. Mostly, though, I’m trying to save my children and myself from the world of pain through which we’ve been put.

    • Oh hun,
      I’ve been there and done that for 13 years. We’ve been divorced for 3 years now.

      These PA’s tend to be charming narcissists and can fool people who aren’t close to them. My ex has managed to do that with our family court custody mediator. I walked out during the 3rd session when he tried to bargain for 50/59 custody time over me asking for direct deposit and having the kids bring their school bags up to my apartment (we live in the same building for now and trust me, I am desperately looking for a new apartment) after they got home from school like they were poker chips. The man hasn’t been interested in his kids for 16 years, why the heck is he suddenly interested and wanting half custody? Oh that’s right! Because according tibhis income child support is going to he raised from $300 a month to $900 so he thinks half time will make it so he doesn’t have to increase child support. He is also talking about taking a different position at work. He’s a master electrician. He wants to take the “shoo big” position that is open. Oh damn though, that means a pay cut from $23.50/hr to $14.00/hr. But he’s doing it purely for better hours…. yeah right.

      After hearing this BS story and him asking me “well, how bad do you want direct deposit… what are you willing to give for it? Because inreakky want half custody…” I got up and left mediation. Because these PA’s can charm people like the mediators who can’t tell that they are narcissits and PA’s what do we do? What if he goes to the court hearing and charms the judge?

      I don’t think he will considering he plans in using the fact that I sent and email at 2am regarding our parenting schedule and a phone call at 7am on another day from our daughter as “proof” of my intent to “mess with his sleeping schedule” and ruin his life. I’ve seen him in court before. When asked why he didn’t want to pay child support all he could say was “I can’t afford it!” Over and over again. The judge wasn’t happy with his egocentric answer.

      But how do YOU deal with them charming people when you are sitting there knowing that they are lying, being condescending, and sending verbal jabs out while blinking their eyes wide and looking all upset and innocent?

  15. I was never the favorite daughter. My dad always loved my pretty little sister more. I have always hated him, I just thought it was normal. Of course my dad had sadistic moments as well. I have an intense phobia of having hair in my mouth, and when I was 10 I decided to tell my dad. He responded by pulling a scarf out from under his bead and tying it in the back of my head, the scarf tight in my open mouth. I can’t even describe how it felt. It was complete, utter, agonizing terror. While I was writhing around on the floor he watched me, laughing at me because I couldn’t get it off for 5 minutes, though it felt like an eternity. Ever since then I have been quiet, shy, anxiety disorder, depression disorder, and most-importantly; I trust no one. Absolutely no one. While I someday want to get married and everything, I am just too scared that that will happen again. I have never been able to really trust anyone since I was 10. I still haven’t gotten over how he has treated me, and I am still majorly depressed because of it.

  16. Hi , I’m sorry if this comment is a few years too late but I think it’s worth a shot .

    My dad is passive aggresive . And as a girl , life can’t get harder for me . I say this all the time and suprise suprise , my passive Aggreisve dad never fails to amaze me as to how much he can hurt me .

    It’s not the physical kind of hurt which goes away after a whole after leaving a scar , it’s the kind of emotional abuse which remains with you for the rest of eternity . My dad’s a bit different though , he’s sentimental and cares a lot for me and I respect him a lot yet sometimes I feel like I want to either shoot myself or him .

    As a daughter , all I can say is living with a passive aggresive parent , a dad specifically has made me loose hope in humanity and I can’t trust anyone , men in particular – forever maybe . My dad has ruined that for me .

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