My father manipulates to get what he wants. What should I do?

Answer

All passive-aggressive behaviors—pouting, gossiping, procrastinating, sulking, giving the silent treatment—are manipulative. Like many other folks, your father probably started behaving this way as a child because it got him what he wanted. As a result, his behaviors are deeply ingrained and highly resistant to being altered. That's why it's crucial that you change yourself by refusing to become a participant in his manipulations. After all, it takes two for a manipulation to succeed.

Call out his behavior immediately and be specific. As a passive-aggressive person, he doesn't act in an honest and direct way so you need to be the one who's forthright in the relationship. Tell him that you see his actions as a manipulation and you won't fall for it. Then disengage. Don't reward his behavior with your time and attention because that may be exactly what he's wanting!

When I was growing up, my mother would manipulate me with compliments. It was her way of keeping me engaged with her problems and getting the attention that she craved. She'd tell me her marital woes, for instance, and I would give her input and advice (which probably wasn't worth much since I was a kid)!

Then, to keep me on the hook, she'd flatter me: “Oh, you're such a wonderful listener...You're so insightful and helpful...I'm so glad that I shared this with you and got your take on it...You'd make a wonderful marriage counselor someday.” Needless to say, this was heady stuff for me as a kid—just what I needed to hear to stay involved with her problems.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how she had manipulated me all those years. Even at the point when I could see the dynamic clearly, I continued to be a willing participant because I wanted to stay close with her. I knew that she wouldn't want much of a relationship unless I continued to play that same supportive role. When I finally decided to stop, it was with that knowledge and acceptance that she would no longer want to spend much time with me.

Stand back from the situation and ask yourself why you let the manipulation continue when you clearly see it. What's the payoff for you? What will you lose when you no longer participate? Are you willing to accept that loss?

The change starts with you. I wish you well with that.

Updated on January 16, 2020

Original Article:

How to Recover From a Passive Aggressive Parent
By McKenna Meyers
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