The vast majority of people look up to their parents for love, support, and encouragement. As we grow up, each one of us takes a piece of our parents’ lessons and knowledge with us. That’s generally how we build our ethical and moral senses and develop different preferences and behaviours. Needless to say, not every parent is good to their children, although most people would prefer to think that, and the behaviour that some parents have might be extremely dangerous and hurtful for their children.
In this article, we will be focusing on parents that have narcissistic tendencies, and mention ways for you, as their children, to deal with this. Narcissism is a term used to describe someone that believes he/she is special and does not feel empathy or can’t emotionally understand other people’s feelings (Booth, 2021). If you feel like your parents might fit this description, and do not offer you the love, support, and encouragement that you seek, here are 6 ways that might help you deal with them.
Avoid reacting to their bad behaviour
Do you feel the need to give your parents a reaction when they say something mean to you? Narcissistic parents often look for a reaction so that they can put all the responsibility and blame on you (Toxic Ties, 2020). They will try using a variety of manipulative tools such as gaslighting to make you emotional and provoke you. Once you react, they’ll play the role of the victim and make you feel even worse. Try not to give them reactions or get angry, otherwise you’ll only be playing into their hands.
Have you ever thought that your parents treat you so poorly that they don’t deserve your compassion? It is very easy to think that way. Afterall, why would you treat them nicely if they do the opposite to you? However, you should consider the fact that your parents might need compassion and empathy from you (Franco, 2020). Remember that they are still your parents. You should still care about them, and they, most likely, still care about you, although their way of showing it might not be appropriate. So, try showing some compassion to them even when they treat you poorly, and you might start seeing some changes.
Lean on friends and other family members
How much do you actually lean on your friends or other family when things are not going well with your parents? This is especially difficult since most people expect to get the feeling of safety and love from their parents, instead of having to rely on others because your parents are treating you poorly. However, it is one of the best ways to deal with narcissistic parents. You can bring a friend or family member with you when interacting with your parents, or you spend more time with your friends and other family members in a positive environment to reduce the negative influence that your parents might make you feel (Griffin, 2019).
Maintain your position with subtle confidence
Do you feel like you need your parents’ approval and validation when doing something? Expecting your narcissistic parents to approve and validate what you do or say will most likely end in you getting hurt. For example, during arguments, you expect your parents to at least understand your point of view. This will not happen because of the very definition of narcissist, who, as mentioned before, is someone who cannot understand others’ ideas and feelings (Toxic Ties, 2020). Instead of seeking validation from your parents, no matter what crazy ideas they throw at you, stick to the things you know with subtle confidence. You should understand that, although having the approval and validation of your parents is good, it is not necessary.
Don’t argue with them
Does every single argument that you have with your parents go their way even when they are wrong? Well, maybe you should just not argue. Arguing with narcissistic parents is simply a waste of time and energy since they are incapable of understand others. Additionally, they will do anything to prove that they are in the right and you are in the wrong (Toxic Ties, 2020). It does not matter if they are lying or attacking you, they will come up with a way to make it so that you are wrong. So, instead of going into a pointless argument that you know will only result in you getting hurt, keep your composure and calm.
Lower your expectations for interactions with your parents
Do you still believe that all parents should be warm and loving towards their children? Well, we all wish it were this way. However, if you already know that your parents are narcissists and still have such high expectations of them, you are in for a rough ride. Narcissistic parents can turn the most pleasant moment into a nightmare (Griffin, 2019). To avoid feeling let down, learn to lower your expectations when interacting with your parents. Don’t expect them to talk to you in a loving and encouraging manner if you already know that they constantly treat you poorly. This might hurt a lot since, as mentioned so many times before, parents are supposed to guide and support us through life. So, lowering your expectations of them is a lot easier to say than to do, but still, it might be a very helpful way of dealing with their narcissistic behaviour.
To conclude this article, if you are having a hard time with your narcissistic parents, I hope that the points addressed in this article can help you, even if in the slightest, to deal with what I would describe as a daily ordeal. Remember that, although your parents are supposed to be huge parts of your life, you can always lean on others and find people who will mentor you with positivity.
Booth, S. (2021). “Her Highest Praises Were Mocking Insults”—What It’s Like Growing Up With a Narcissist for a Parent. Retrieved 28 January 2021, from https://www.health.com/relationships/narcissistic-parent
Franco, G. (2020). How to deal with a Narcissistic Mother. Retrieved 28 January 2021, from https://cbtpsychology.com/narcissisticmother/
Griffin, T. (2019). How to Deal with a Narcissistic Parent. Retrieved 28 January 2021, from https://www.wikihow.com/Deal-with-a-Narcissistic-Parent
Toxic Ties. (2020). Coping With A Narcissistic Mother: 9 Tips To Heal The Damage. Retrieved 28 January 2021, from https://toxicties.com/9-coping-strategies-narcissistic-mother/