One great benefit of having children is you no longer need to talk to your partner directly ever again. Why bother, when you can communicate everything via your children as long as your partner is in ear shot?
In fact, you can apply this means of communication to all your friends and even total strangers by just making sure they are in close range while you say what you daren’t say to their face, all under the guise of talking to the kids.
To the innocent and childless observer it may be classified as passive aggressive but to those in the know, it’s as effective as any form of NLP.
Like any great communication tool, it comes with a complex set of uses and nuances. Here is the breakdown:
The most fun use of this form of communication and is often the back bone to “hilarious” chat between parents, ideally between two Dads.
At its most basic, it is all about gently insulting one another, but is actually reserved for old friends and people for whom you have an affection.
Classic examples focus around the chubbiness, baldness and lack of basic abilities of a child (ideally baby) which are then appropriated to that child’s father to a derisory and amusing effect.
To a particularly hirsute newborn: You’ve got a lot of hair, much more than your Daddy!
To a toddler who is drinking nicely from a sippy cup: Well done! You can certainly hold your drink, better than your Daddy!
And the Classic
To a potty trained toddler: You’ve done a wee in the potty, well done! That’s much better than Daddy does.
Note: this requires a number of (ideally slightly tipsy or hung over) people to be in auditory range to really hit the spot.
I’ve been asking my husband repeatedly to do certain tasks for the past twelve years. A child provides an interesting new spin on this; they offer a thinly veiled way of asking for something to be achieved without having to go through all the laborious hassle of asking someone directly to please do you a favour.
Toddler asks for apple juice repeatedly with no let up
Me: Sure. Daddy’s getting you that.
It’s also effective on long outstanding DIY jobs
Toddler trips on toy
Me: Oh dear. You tripped up on that toy. If only Daddy had put that shelf up like promised you wouldn’t be in tears right now.
If you’re looking for an unhealthy build-up of resentment in your marriage created over a number or years like some kind of toxic fossil, then this is a sure fire winner. There’s no faster path to creating resentment.
This will only work if there is already a foundation of latent anger and a fair bit of tiredness in the mix.
Me to tired toddler: You’re tired, I know you’re tired. In fact Mummy’s tired. Mummy’s tired because Daddy seems to slip into a coma at night and cannot be stirred from his slumber. It’s very annoying to Mummy that Daddy doesn’t wake up and come to give you a cuddle, isn’t it? It makes Mummy feel very sad and I really wish that sometimes Daddy would pull his weight a little bit more.
Ignore any eye rolling or swearing under breath from your partner. Keep a steady gaze with your toddler. You are at the most ninja level of communicating through your children here and you must not be distracted.
You can then end with a flourish,
To toddler: Come on. You and Mummy are going to go out now and leave Daddy to have some time to himself as he obviously doesn’t want us around being noisy and is getting all grumpy.
I warn you, the effects will be immediate and impressive. Your partner will do a bit of unassertive banging around in the kitchen as a result which will let you know that your message has been received and understood.
Often used with a total stranger who you can be sure is judging your parenting style. Rather than 1) ignore them or 2) address them face to face in an adult and mature way, you can give your ultimate put down by talking defensively to your pre-schooler.
Toddler is eating Wotsits while watching Peppa Pig on iPhone. All is quiet.
Stranger enters peripheral vision and begins to judge parenting style.
Me to Toddler: Gosh well isn’t that a big treat, having those crisps and the iPhone? That hardly ever happens, but we’re having a couple of big treats while Daddy is away on holiday with his friends and Mummy is doing it all by herself. You are being so good, aren’t you? But gosh, that is a very big treat isn’t it? What do you say?
Toddler bemused: errr….Thank you?
This will floor any stranger’s judgment of you. It also has the added benefit of ensuring you are having a dig at your husband; even though he’s 2000 miles away on a stag do.
Have your children made your communication style more passive aggressive? If so, I would love to hear from you.