What to do if your parent is a narcissistic parent
Ten years ago, when Cat Blake divorced her husband, her daughter was pretty gentle with her parents. “We got along pretty well with our parents, with no problems along the way,” he says.
But a few years later, when he published an autobiography about his struggles with co-dependence, things got worse.
“My ex-husband and his new wife heard about the book and sued me for defaming the full care and character of their 8-year-old daughter at the time,” says Blake, who is now a divorce coach in Boston, MA. The legal expenses raised the money and he had to sell the house and file for bankruptcy.
Blake later realized that her ex-husband, who is a narcissist, didn’t even want any more time with her daughter. “He wanted to punish me,” he says.
What it’s like to be a parent member with a narcissist
“It’s very difficult to parent with someone with a personality disorder,” says Mark Ettensohn, author of PsyD. Masking Narcissism: A Guide to Understanding Narcissism in Your Life. Narcissists have a very unstable self-image, he says. They are often flexible, defensive and manage the situation in a healthy way.
If yours parents the couple is narcissistic, they can push, push or test your limits. Or they may be parents with less structure, empathy, or respect than they would like. They are often angry when you give them an opinion or criticism. It can be difficult to make commitments. Their negativity can erode you.
How to recognize a narcissist
Narcissists have a great sense of greatness and self-importance. This means that they are more important than others and believe that they lack empathy.
Other signs narcissistic personality disorder among others:
- Arrogant attitudes or behaviors
- Taking advantage of what others want
- Believing that they are unique or special
- Excessive achievements and talents
- The need for excessive admiration
- Feeling envious of others or thinking that others are envious
- Lack of empathy
- Obsessed with the fantasy of brilliance, power, or success
- Sense of right
What to do if your partner is a narcissist
Follow these steps if you are a parent of a narcissist:
Accept. If your parental partner is a narcissist, they probably won’t change. “You have to turn your head when you have to be with your parents with someone you don’t like,” Blake says.
Set boundaries. Be clear and precise. Draw a line between what is good and what is not. Don’t let it cross. Narcissists like control and will do whatever it takes to get it.
Make a parenting plan. Make a plan on how to drop off and pick up children, and how to manage after-school activities, vacations, and discipline. Decide how you will speak and how often. Put the plan in writing, sign it and stick to it.
Restrict communication. Your parenting partner will try to get your attention by communicating too much. Maybe they’ll tell you something that needs an answer right away. Try to use email only so that you can breathe before replying.
Stay calm. When your partner shakes or annoys you, try to stay calm. Avoid insults or guilt. “Use clear language, words without emotion, strong body language, and voice, ”Blake says.
Have a vision. Try not to take personal attacks heart. Instead, acknowledge that what they say is more about them than about them.
What not to do
Here are some things to avoid if you are a parent with narcissism:
Don’t argue. Narcissists make it difficult to win the debate. They often talk in circles to confuse and overwhelm you. Keep your answers clear and concise without emotion. Don’t explain yourself or give too much information. This is also called the “gray rock method”.
Don’t be afraid. “They grow up with fear,” Blake says. “Narcissists are very easy when you realize what is causing them. They just want attention and congratulations. ”Recognize when they do something right. But keep up with your limitations.
Don’t try to control everything. “While you’re doing your job, try to break down what the narcissist is doing to your parents,” Blake says. “Are your kids fed up and coming back in one piece? It’s pretty good.”
Do not use your baby. A partner can use it to get what their child wants. They can spy on you for private information. You may also be tempted to do that, but it’s best not to.
How to Protect Children
“It can be hard to protect children from parental identity problems when you’re not watching what’s going on,” Ettensohn says. Pay attention to what you can control.
Talk to the child. Help them understand the behavior of other parents. It depends on the age. Teach them that parental behavior is about that parent, not about them.
See what you say. Try not to say negative things about your parenting partner. “Your child may turn against you and may be forced to choose sides,” Ettensohn says. “Learn about wordless communication, listening to friends and family, and comparing your child to a narcissist,” Blake says.
Beware of signs of abuse. Look for anything that is limited to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Be a healthy parent. You can’t choose how your partner is the parent of the child, but you can compensate with a healthy parent. Be a good role model. Train your child through rough patches. “The antidote to your partner’s narcissism is acceptance, warmth, realistic assessment, and consistency,” says Ettensohn.
Parenting with her ex-narcissistic husband has not been easy for Blake, but he keeps it from the point of view. “Children need only one high-functioning parent to grow up as an adult,” he says.