Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 40 · 4 years ago

Parents of Narcissist? - It's Not Your Fault

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Christine explores the challenges facing parents of narcissistic children, and how to cope.

www.growwithchristine.com

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...to grow with Christine calm, forward slash narcissism. That's grow with Christine Dot Com. Forward Slash Narcissism. This master class will change your life again. That's grow with Christine Dot Com. Forward Slash Narcissism. This is understanding today's narcissist, brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom and now here's your host, Christine Hammond. So today I want to talk to you about something that is kind of a touchy subject for a lot of you. You may have an adult narcissistic child and if you started looking anything on the Internet, you...

...might be like my clients that we're going to talk about in a second, Margaret and Henry, who just felt totally beaten down by what they read about narcissism. So I want to talk a little bit about this concept that, you know, if you're the parent of a narcissist, it's not all your fault and and so I just want to start off by saying that, because I feel sometimes parents get a super bad rap and and you don't cause all of this. Like yes, there may have been some ways that you contributed, but at the end of the day, a person who has this disorder has chosen it at some levels, has made decisions along the way that contributed to this, and it's not all your fault that this happened. So let's talk about Margaret and Henry. They're two of my clients who went to visit their daughter not too long ago and they were super excited because they had grandchildren...

...that they hadn't seen and they were really looking forward to it. But instead they were met by a lot of verbal attacks from their daughter. At times, their daughter even treated them like a complete stranger and forbid them to even interact with their grandkids. Then, when she needed something, she acted like they were best friends and just gilted them into buying the kids more things. This confusing tactic of pushing Margaret and Henry away and then pulling them in closer was absolutely exhausting to them. Worse yet, their daughter demanded that if things weren't done her way, they would never see their grandchildren again. She treated them like servants, acted superior, showed no concern for their feelings and demanded attention, even at the expense of her own children. There was little kindness and only unfair accusations and this constant strife. After the trip, Margaret and...

Henry sought out some counseling with me. They had gone to several other therapists in the past who suggested that their daughter was narcissistic, which is why they came to see me. Not Wanting to believe that this could be true, Margaret and Henry kept trying, giving, hoping and expecting that things would get better, but it was only getting worse. And after this weekend from Hell, they were open to learning more or about narcissism and trying to find some kind of reasonable solution going forward. But then they turned to the Internet and everything they read about the disorder seemed to blame them as parents. One article claim that narcissism is the sole product of dysfunctional parenting, but this didn't make any sense, because they had a great relationship with their other two children and their families. It was just this one daughter they seemed to struggle with to have a healthy interaction. So they came to me with several questions and way...

...too many research articles in their hands, which I would strongly encourage you not to do if you are one of those parents, because some of the stuff is just not good and some of it is created by narcissists themselves so that they can blame their parents for what happened to them as a way of not having to deal with the consequences of their own action. So just keep that floating around in the back of your head. Question Number One. They asked me did I create this? So my answer was this. Narcissism is part biology, part environment and part choice. Narcissism does run in there in families and their lack of empathy seems to have a biological component. In environment can draw out the narcissist through neglect, abuse, trauma, death or even an addiction. This might have nothing to do with the parents. It could happen at school, at Church or even with friends. And lastly, everyone has...

...the ability to be different if they choose. The problem with narcissism is that they don't believe they're they're the problem. So therefore they don't make the choice. But not making a choice means that you've made a choice to not make a choice and to not be different than what you are. So so did they create this? There's three parts of it biology, environment and choice. So part of that is is the child's responsibility. And if the parent did not do abuse, neglect, I have any kind of trauma or addiction, than they are not the cause of it. Next question. Is there anything I can do? Now? Technically, narcissism cannot even be diagnosed until a person reaches eighteen. So you don't even know you're dealing with one younger and it makes parenting very difficult because most of the parenting is completed by the time somebody turns eighteen in the first place. So how can a parent do something...

...different when you can't even diagnose a problem till they're done being a child? That's my question to you. There is nothing a person can do to make someone else change they want to have to do it themselves. This is the hardest part of parenting, especially after the child has become an adult. Margaret and Henry can an't change their daughter, but they can change the nature of their interaction. So that was the one thing that they can do. Now next question was this. Did I do something to deserve this? Fair enough question. I've had a lot of people asked me this over the years. Margaret and Henry are not narcissistic. I checked, double checked triple checked. They're not, but they both had one parent, who was Margaret's father and Henry's mother, were both narcissistic. Looking back now, Henry commented that there were many times when he felt like he was raising his mother and in many ways he was. There was no there is no fairness meter in life.

So just because Margaret and Henry were good parents, as indicated by their other two children, does not mean that everything will turn out well and that the narcissism trait will be eliminated. Sometimes it gets activated just because. So No, they did not do something to deserve this. Next question was, how am I supposed to act? So, just like Margaret and Henry learned to set boundaries with their own narcissistic parents, so they needed to do something similar with their daughter. There is a grieving process which is similar to a death that they also needed to experience. Letting go of expectations for an amicable visit full of fun and adventure was actually a good place for them to start. Then setting limits on how much time they spent on their daughter, at much money they spent on their daughter, how often they interacted and how much they...

...share about their lives are all additional boundaries that they needed to address and that we reviewed in session together to set was appropriate for their family. So that was how they could act. Next question they asked is what kind of relationship can we have with someone like this going forward? The answer to. This is unfortunate because it all depends. Some narcissists liked to be full in control of the relationship, so respecting their boundaries of minimal contact or the ridiculous rules they insist upon takes a lot of strength of character. But regardless of the narcissist demands, parents still need to be themselves. So Margaret and Henry like to send a birthday card every year and I encourage them to continue to do so. But they also learned to limit the extra verbiage about wanting to see their daughter more. Instead, they stay true to themselves by keeping everything polite and pleasant, because they were very polite and pleasant people. Their narcissistic daughter...

...was not going to turn them into something they weren't, which was either begging or angry or frustrated or annoyed. As as a personality goes, they were not that under normal circumstances. So we found ways to keep them exactly the way that they are. So that's the kind of relationship that they were going to have to have with their daughter going forward. The last question is a very difficult one, but I hear it a lot, is do I have to cut my narcissistic child out of my life. So, unfortunately, for a period of time, Margaret and Henry's daughter's actually Margaret and Henry's daughter, actually cut her parents out of her life. There was no contact, she refused to visit her parents or allow her parents to visit her. Margaret and Henry sent cards on the main holidays and patiently waited for things to change, and sure enough they did. One day their daughter called and acted as if...

...nothing had happened. There was no apology, no explanation, no grand revelation. Margaret and Henry's first temptation was to treat their daughter in the same manner, in other words to ignore her that they had been treated. But they didn't want to be something that they weren't, which is what we talked about in the last section. So they remembered their decision that they were not going to become narcissistic while dealing with a narcissist. Instead, they set boundaries of communication, in contact until they felt like their daughter could be trusted more so their relationship is ongoing and they come in periodically. It is a source of frustration and for them, but they are more at peace with it and knowing that they have done everything that they can. They are not taking unnecessary response, unnecessarily more responsibility for what has happened to their daughter. They don't put up with their daughter's demands and and all in all, they have gotten to...

...a place of peace with their daughter. So, when the parent, while the parenting may end with your child as they become an adult, there's this constant strategy that needs to be maintained when dealing with an adult narcissistic child. So you might never develop the close relationship that you want, but you are able to be able to find peace and to find strength in all of this and be able to coexist in a manner that doesn't cause you to lose yourself. I hope this was helpful. Remember it's not always your fault. Thanks for listening to understanding. Today's narcissist with Christine Hammond brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom. For more information, visit grow with Christine Dot Com.

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