The harder you are to communicate with as a parent (or boss) the more passive aggressive your kids (employees) get.
I believe that most parents and bosses are familiar with passive aggressive behavior. Kids or employees that do what they’re told but not what you wanted. For kids, this is often manifested by doing chores very slowly or being literal with your requests.
I remember when we told a particularly passive aggressive child to “clean out the refrigerator”. He said he didn’t understand and we responded with, “just clean it out!” Next thing we knew, he was sweeping all of the food, condiments and leftovers into a trash can. He did what we asked, but not what we wanted.
Similarly, I recently read about a mom who collects all tablets and phones every night for all of her kids; even the kids in high school. While I can understand her thought process, I wandered if trust was something that she ever intended to teach. But the kids got together and figured out how to be passive aggressive; they set multiple, repeating alarms on all of the devices and then happily turned them in. Throughout the night, alarms made sleep for mom impossible. They did what she asked, but not what she wanted.
This behavior is a byproduct of controlling authority figures. If there’s no “wiggle room” and not room to negotiate, kids start to look for ways to “control you back”. They have a lot of time to think about it and, as parents, we don’t always plan for it.
My advice is to start early with trust and reward the trust when kids honor it. Ask yourself, “why do I provide a phone for them?” If you aren’t sure, then neither are they.
I provide a phone for my kids so that I can communicate with them. Texts, calls and even emails fly back and forth. This is the value to me for the phone. The value to them is that they can communicate with people that aren’t me and do social media stuff and play games. Communicating with each other is the overlap in benefits.
I am not a fan of being ignored. As a result, I answer my kids call unless I’m in a meeting that requires me not to interrupt or in a movie. If I can answer, I do. By doing this, I am showing them how I want to be treated by treating them the same way.
I know that they occasionally get on their phones when they should be sleeping but so do I.
I am looking to strengthen the relationship as opposed to controlling it. As a result, my kids aren’t terribly passive aggressive with me.