Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 35 · 4 years ago

Strategies for Coping with an Adult Narcissist Child


Christine reviews the tips and techniques for coping with an adult narcissist child.


  • Live in the present. One of the biggest temptations is to look backwards and wonder, “what if,” or “if only”. Second to that is to look too far ahead and try to predict the action of the ANC. Neither of these is productive. Narcissism is part biology, environment, and choice, so as circumstances change, so can the shape of the narcissist. Living in the present requires a bit of disciple but it is worth it. Even when the ANC has chosen the silent treatment, that is likely to be modified when they find they need a different response.
    • Avoid over or under complimenting. As a general rule, parents like to praise their children. Normally narcissists love to admired but when the ANC receives compliments from their parent, it seems belittling to them. Rather, extend applause for only the things which the ANC brings to light. For instance, if shown a letter of recommendation, praise them for that. Just be careful not to take any credit for their accomplishments.
    • Love or respect. A wise counselor once told me that when it comes to narcissists, the choice is to have either their love or respect, but not both. However, knowing which is more significant, is an individual decision. To earn their love means the parent watches their ANC’s mistakes and does not highlight them. Winning their respect means the parent achieves something the narcissist values.
    • Patience is a virtue. Nagging the ANC does not work. It only frustrates them and causes unnecessary friction. In time, most ANC’s return to the nest especially when life has failed to glorify them and they need the unconditional support of their parent. Waiting them out with open arms is difficult and likely one of the toughest tasks of parenting yet. There is no guarantee reward at the end, but it is worth the effort.
    • Don’t expect remorse. Part of the definition of narcissistic personality disorder is the inability to demonstrate any real form of remorse, sorrow, or forgiveness. This is especially true when it comes to the relationship between the parent and the ANC. The ANC will not admit to wrongdoing, flawed thinking, an error in judgement, or poor decision. To expect such awareness is to not recognize the limitations of the disorder.
    • Be careful of significant others. When the ANC finds a mate, it is essential that the parent show happiness for them regardless of the quality of the decision. Any indication of disapproval will be met with swift isolation that could last for years. At all costs, this should be avoided.

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...had written about narcissism. So, believe it or not, I read all your comments and so keep them coming, because I will answer your questions in the form of a podcast or an article, or sometimes I'll reach out to you personally, depending on the nature of it. So here's the comment that I got to want to read it for you first and then we're going to talk about it. It says here my daughter, who is eighteen, fits most of these narcissistic examples. For the last year, after her second suicide attempt, I have probably been way too lenient on her because of my fear of losing her. I truly feel at my wits end with her unfair accusations and manipulative behavior and have now had to reconcile losing her in one way or another in order to save myself. She lives with me. How can I support her while still enforcing safe boundaries? What strategies have helped others, specifically when she wants to engage in a battle with me at Ze am and starts threatening to move out, sleep in the car or even harm herself. So my heart went out to this mom. I could really hear it in her voice how she is struggling with her eighteen year old, probably narcissistic daughter at this point and she just didn't know exactly what to do or how to handle something. So I gave in roade out ten different strategies that I want to share with you today so that you can use this if you find yourself in the exact same position, because this mother was struggling with how to cove, how to manage, and I even had to deal with a narcissistic adult child who threatens to harm themselves. And her concern is very, very valid, as narcissist have one of the highest suicidal rates of any personality disorder. So here are some strategies that she can help for both herself and her adult child.

Number one, affirmations work, so narciss is US need a daily supply of attention, affection, admiration and appreciation. By giving them the affirmations that they need, their ego is then boosted, they are in securities are tamed and they feel noticed. Think of this as preventive medicine rather than a prescription. Afterwards, it could be as simple as complementing what they're wearing. It could be a simple statement on how they did a good job on something. It really doesn't even need a whole lot or that. You just want to spend time with them. Just anything, and they might not even reciprocate or show appreciation for it. But the goal of this is that it is a one way street. Remember, you're not going to get the same level of attention or affirmation and return that you give out. So number one, affirmations work. Number two, take a daily break. Even full time jobs recommend several breaks during the day to rejuvenate EA use the restroom, knowing that this actually increases your productivity. This should be the same. This should be done at home, especially when a narcissist lives there. So begin by adding fifteen minute breaks into a morning and nighttime routine. FIND SAFE PLACES TO HIDE that provide a time out of swords to think, think and reflect before reacting to one of their crazy statements or rants or ragus. One of the typical abuse tactics of narcissism is to generate confusion so that the only voice others here is the narcissists. This break technique is extremely beneficial at counteracting that. So by taking a daily break, and I would say you just set the clock and...

...say every day I'm going to take a break at these times and just do some simple reflection as to what's happening in what's going on, what are you feeling in that moment, releasing your own emotions in that moment, then you'll be better equipped to be able to go back and handle whatever kind of statement is coming at you from the narcissist. And remember narcissists have their good days, right, and they have their bad days, so not all days are going to be bad. So even on the good days you need to take a break, because what you don't want to do on the good days is wind up getting your hopes up that this is going to be forever and that they're never going to go back to their older version of themselves, because that's just not the case. narcissists go in a cycle. We talked about that in another podcast called the narcissistic abuse cycle, so this might be a good time to review that, just to remind yourself health that this is cyclical. It isn't something that they're cured from. Number three, focus on recovery. The process of recovery takes time, patients and energy, time to invest in sorting through the narcissist abuse and trauma, patients to go at a pace that allows for healing and doesn't retraumatize you, and energy to release pent up emotions, thoughts, aggravations, fears and even confusion. This can be done alone, but much of this should be done in a therapeutic setting. This ensures the process is complete and lasting. So I would highly recommend that, if you are not seen a therapist, that you do see a therapist if you're living with the narcissist, just so you have a place where you can keep going back to what I call your north and you're focusing on yourself so that you have the time, patients and energy to deal with somebody who's narcissistic. Number four, use other narcissists. So point out the narcissismount in others,...

...such as political, sports and even entertainment figures, to your adult narcissistic child. Once the seeds of the narcissistic dysfunction are planted, it is easier to help to identify the behavior in the adult child. It is even more effective when the narcissistic figure is on the adult is is one that the adult child has little to no respect for. So this is where politics comes in handy. They don't have respect for a certain politician that looks narcissistic. This is a great time to start to point out some of their narcissistic traits. It's kind of a passive aggressive way of pointing out to the narcissist that they might be acting just like that person. They might not see it, but if you're consistent about it, they will eventually start to see it. You just can't be obvious about it. You can actually say to them, do you ever seem like you're doing this yourself? You so you can't use that tactic, but what you can do is say, Oh wow, look at them, they act so entitled that they deserve this and and then just allow that to allow that to penetrate into their being and let it grow as a seed. All right. Number five, set absolutes. In the case of repeated suicidal threats, as was with this adult child, is important to seek out the assistance of a professional and meaning that a professional therapist who does family settings and works with narcissists. Contractual agreement can then be generated that includes immediate hospitalization if another threat is made. For A narcissist, the embarrassment of being hospitalized is usually enough to keep them from making another threat again, because they don't see themselves as being one of those people who has to go to a mental...

...hospital. But if they do, the agreement must be executed immediately and without extending a second chance, even if the narcissist is begging for the second chance. Number six, go to family counseling. The best type of therapy is one in which the parents and the adult child are equal participants. If needed, siblings can be added to this treatment process as well. This allows for a level of accountability for everyone's behavior, helps to mediate between disagreements and provides a safe place to vent frustrations. So if it is possible to get your adult narcissistic child to family counseling. Please do so, because it can be very beneficial. They don't like being told on. They will often try to tell on you, which is fine. I always allow that. But but they don't like to be told on in front of the therapist. They like to look really good. So usually family counseling has it has a positive effect going forward. Number seven, use the hamburger method. One of the best ways of confronting a narcissist is the hamburger method. You Complement Confront Compliment by sandwiching a confrontation between two compliments. Think of a Bun, a hamburger and another bun, right, so the top in the bottom are complements. The middle, the meat, is the confrontation. The likelihood by sandwiching a confrontation between two compliments, the likelihood that it will be heard is greatly increased. Confronting head on is never the ideal. So No, just meat without the BUN. This makes the narcissist feel attacked and they become too defensive to be reasoned with, as I'm sure you've already figured that out, and they have a tendency to rage and go over the top, and then they start blaming...

...you and around that cute little abuse cycle you wind up going. So don't go down there. Use the hamburger method. Don't Overdo it, please. You can big macket, which means you can do a complement, confront, complement, confront, compliment. Right, think big Mac there's a bun in the middle as well, but don't do any more than one at a time. That was number seven. Number eight don't tolerate any abusive behavior. One of the main reasons for divorce in a marriage, including a narcissist, is a narcissist abusive behavior. Unfortunately, in this case we can't divorce the narcissist because the narcissist is your child, but they're still there is no reason to tolerate any type of abuse. When dealing with narcissists, you should just walk away, hang up the phone, block them if needed, or even call the police. You can do this with your adult child move the tolerance level to a more acceptable pace. Dealing with a narcissistic child is a bit different, but you should still make it sternly evident that you will not allow any abusive behavior to continue. So it might look a little bit different than what you would do with the spouse, but remember when they're an adult. They're an adult, they're not a child any longer. Don't treat them like a child. Treat them more like an adult and don't tolerate any abusive behavior. Number nine, counteract the gas lighting. A typical form of mental abuse commonly utilized by narcissist is gaslighting. This is where the narcissist denies reality and instead paints a completely different picture, so believable that the other person thinks they're going crazy. To counteract this tactic, it is useful to keep a journal of facts and incidents, for instance writing down that the narcissist had a fit at...

Thanksgiving over an ungrateful relative. This is not to keep a record of wrongs, but rather to have some point of reference when the story is twisted into the relative losing it and verbally insulting the narcissist, which is usually what they wind up doing. The narcissist has the fit, but yet they try to say that it was really the other person that had the fit instead and make you feel like you're going crazy. So just keep a record of this so that you can remind yourself that you're not insane and you're not losing your mind. Number ten, this is the most important one of all of the ones that we talked about. Don't lose your identity. narcissists have a way of trying to transform the people in their lives into many versions of themselves. Their dominant ego dictates that others lives would be better if they were more like the narcissist. It takes a large amount of self awareness to keep an ego intact in the face of such pressure. While it is difficult, it is not impossible to do so. The most important thing you can do is remind yourself of who you are, even if you just have three words that you say about yourself over and over again every day, to remind yourself of who you are and what your north is, so that the narcissist doesn't try to make you out to be something that you're not. So these strategies can help you in living with a narcissist, whether you find yourself related to a narcissist through blood or marriage. Creating these healthy boundaries and limiting the amount of control the narcissist has over you and others will help to create a safer environment for all involved parties. Remember, if you're having difficulty on your own, there are always resources you can use to seek help, something you should never hesitate to...

...do if needed. Thanks for listening to understanding. Today's narcissist with Christine Hammond brought to you in part by Psych Central Dot Com. For more information, visit grow with Christine Dot Com.

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