This is part two in a series on how to deal with narcissistic parents. In part one, we address narcissistic traits, what may cause a person to become a narcissist. And we discussed if you were caring for a narcissistic parent and the types of narcissists there are.
I shared stories of Star and Mary Jean to family caregivers that provided care for their aging narcissistic parents. I hope that this information provided you, has given you insight into the challenges you face when providing care. Today we're going to address more strategies to deal with those aging parents with narcissism.
In part one I recommended to be successful, you needed to start to detach and set boundaries. The first step is to accept that an aging narcissist is never going to change. Healthcare professionals find, NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, very hard to treat even in young, healthy people. And I mentioned that to be successful, you must learn to detach or distance yourself from the narcissist in your life.
This is never easy for anybody. Caregivers even struggle with this more. For many adult children of narcissists, realizing and accepting that you have a narcissistic parent or parents is very painful. It's human nature, even as an adult child, to want love and approval, even if it's not a realistic expectation.
When creating distance with your parent means giving up hope that they will someday change. It means releasing the feeling of responsibility. They have instilled in you to take care of them, to meet their every need and every whim.
For many, they find little to no contact with their narcissistic parent can be very freeing, liberating. Many have told me how freeing it is to be able to get to that point and it how much it was worth it. No matter the struggle, the first step to detachment or distancing is to recognize your own.
Comes first, and I'm finding that this is not an easy task for any family caregiver, let alone anyone dealing with narcissistic personalities, many delay and ignore their own health and wellbeing to their own detriment. For an adult child of a narcissistic parent. This is often seems even more insurmountable as a child of a narcissist grows up.
Are You an Adult Child of a Narcissist?
They learn that they are quick to have to try to please their parents. They learn that they have to put their own needs and desires on the back burner. This learned behavior is so hard to over. I want you to know you can and need to put yourself first. People pleasers go through this. There are many caregivers that are people pleasers and we don't put ourselves first, and it has had negative impacts on our health in some way, shape, or.
The next big step is setting boundaries. Whew. That's never an easy task. After years of giving into their demands, setting boundaries is a challenge. Hey, you're human. You have your limits. A narcissist will push you beyond your limits. They will challenge you to your very core. So I'm gonna give you three strategies to defend yourself against your aging narcissistic parent.
When you do attempt to start to set boundaries and limits, and I say attempt because it may take several several times for you to. Be consistent and be strong enough and have the courage to, to stand by those limits and boundaries you have set. When trying to detach and set those boundaries. Try not to be confrontational, but do set clear boundaries, never attack or confront your narcissistic parent with a long list of all the mistakes they've ever made in their lives with you.
Remember, narcissists don't take criticism well at all, and it can only make your situation worse than it already. If that's possible. Remember, narcissists don't hold themselves accountable. They are not able to be empathetic. A confrontation is a setup for more pain and more disappointment for you. You need to communicate your needs for a breathing space.
Time to Take Responsibility for Your Own Personal Emotional Well Being
It is time for you to take responsibility for your own personal emotional wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing. Remember, you cannot control the narcissist. You can only control yourself and your emotions and your responses. So if you are struggling to come to terms with your feelings and your mental and physical wellbeing or suffering, it is likely time to set very strict boundaries with your aging narcissistic parent or walk away all together. Who, I know that one made a lot of people say, Yes, I wanna do this, or they're, Oh my God, I can't do.
But you can, I have had so many family caregivers of narcissists struggle to detach. It's important to know it's very likely the narcissist in your life won't respect your need for a break or time apart. And there's a simple reason for that. I wanna stop and tell you. I was always shocked when I would be working in a nursing home and or an assisted living and families would drop off the sick, frail, elderly senior and tell the nursing home, Look, we only want to be contacted when they.
We would take deep breaths, gasp, Oh my God, after you have taken care of a narcissist, you can understand how people can do that. We can't judge people for if they walk away and you don't. And you shouldn't be judged by anybody cuz they don't know what you've done to get to this level.
Narcissists See Their Children as an Extension of Themselves
Narcissists see themselves an extension. Of others that they see them you as an extension of them is what I'm trying to say. They do not see their children as individuals with unique needs. Edith, Star's mom actually prevented star from marrying the love of her life. Her antics and manipulation prevented Star from marrying her high school sweetheart. It left life scars for Star. She was heartbroken. She did eventually find love and did get married. In fact, Star reconnected with her lost love while she was caring for her mother. They reconnected. They had fallen in love and planned on getting married and it was her future husband's encouragement that gave star the courage to place her mother in an assisted living.
This was a painful and arduous task that Star initiated and so many family caregivers, Star felt an extreme guilt and anxiety as she started to set limits and boundaries in their relationship. It's never easy to initiate a break. Learning how to be assertive and set limited boundaries is challenging for adult children of narcissists.
It is even more challenging when the parents are inappropriate, controlling, invasive or abusive. Once you have made your mind up and decided to set boundaries, it is important not to backtrack. Oh, and I'll tell you, you're gonna want to so bad Star did absolutely. You cannot give in to the temper tantrums, the self pity, the threats and guilt trips, or any other form of manipulation.
Remember, they are masters at manipulating others. They know the buttons to push, to get a rise out of you, to get a response out of you. Do not give them that power over you. Once you've set your boundaries, don't backtrack on them. Don't succumb to the nagging, the self pity, the guilt trips, the threats, or any other forms of manipulation.
Sometimes, and this is sad, but I do hear family caregivers frightened because the narcissist has threatened to complete suicide. And they fear that they couldn't live with that guilt if that parent did that. I can tell you right now, you need to set boundaries, and it is a personal growth experience.
It's most likely that a narcissist, unless they have other personality or disorders, won't complete the task of suicide. They were, are just attention seeking and want to have you give in because people that wanna complete suicide, Do it. They don't just threaten.
The First Step to Start Your Healing Journey
Once you have set your boundaries, it's a first step to heal from this lifelong experience that you were having. Remember, change takes time. You will need to identify and believe that your feelings and needs matter. You need to learn how to assert yourself to meet those needs. So as you start to make the decision to take back your life, you need to be prepared as a narcissist.
Does not think anyone's needs supersedes their. Caregivers by nature are selfless and are easily taken advantage of. You have to remember that you are important too. You may wanna write down a mantra and repeat it over and over again. I matter. My health and happiness matter. For those struggling to even initiate this change, be aware that the children of narcissists usually have a long history of self blame and finding fault within themselves for everything.
And we as women are always saying, We're sorry. We're sorry for everything. We've got to stop doing that cuz we have a right to our feelings.
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Narcissists have Manipulated Their Children
Understand that narcissist parents have manipulated a child to get the response that they want. So narcissists are very good at lashing out or collapsing in tears whenever their children express their own needs. This response trains the child to point the figure at themselves instead of the parent whenever they feel hurt, lonely, or angry over the abuse.
This is a learned response and adult children feel as if they are the needy ones. They are the selfish ones. They are too sensitive. It is time to realize that it is important that you can lift up. That guilt and accept that it's your parents' behaviors, not yours, that have led you to this point that you need to take a step back from this relationship.
We have discussed the reasons why you need to take a step back, so I think we should address how you can do that. Definitely this is gonna depend on your individual situation, but I'd like to recommend you that you tell them or inform the narcissist in an email or even over the phone initially
For others, you may need to see a therapist to help you overcome the fear as you address your need for space. Whatever you do, it is important to make it about you. Make your points without blaming any one person or any accusations, just tell your parent that it's important to work on yourself during this time, and that this is, you are making the best possible decision for yourself and your mental health moving forward.
Stay Strong and Step Back if You Must
Once you announce your intentions, you must be strong. I suggest that before you make your intentions known to your narcissist, step to step back and detach, you're going to meet, need to make changes to the care required by your family member, and this is in your own self-interest to be proactive. You may be making a decision to severely limit your communications or to you've reached the point where you can't have any contact at all.
I have seen so many families with that where they've gotten to that point. So whatever you decide, it will be tough. Realize this is nothing you need to feel guilty about. You need this for your own survival. And as I, and I was, as I shared with you before.
I've had many times in my career, oh, 50 years of nursing where actually the families actually dropped them off at the nursing home or put them in assisted living and said,
Look, I can't take it anymore. Don't call me for anything. Just call me after they pass. That's all I care about.
I no longer look at them like they're crazy or judge them. It's important you do your homework. Investigate alternative options to providing Care to them. personally, I can tell you from my many years of experience, professional health workers from in-home care to assisted living to nursing home settings may be more successful in providing quality care because they don't have the personal history with your family member and they will be more immune to the manipulation and emotional blackmail.
My decades in nursing have shown that narcissists are very good at manipulating others to get their needs met. So while you are detaching and distancing, trust me, they are working hard to get somebody else. Into their web of deceit and lies. Remember, a relationship with a narcissist is only one way to benefit them at the cost of everyone else.
Are You on a Guilt Trip?
So for those caregivers that cannot get over their guilt, I strongly recommend continuing to set limits and boundaries. I suggest you do this so you can get outside help and support. Maintain a social life as much as possible. You wanna be able to engage in activities that you enjoy and that rejuvenate you.
This will prevent you from caregiver burnout and fatigue. I suggest you work with a mental health professional, such as the counselor or psychologist. They can help you sort through your feelings and develop more strategies on how to cope with living with a narcissist. I have many family caregivers join online and in-person support groups for adult children of narcissists.
Knowing you're not alone helps these groups also allow you to vent without judgment. That's important as you have a lifetime of judgments made upon your person. To sum this lesson up, I hope I was able to help you understand that those with NPD are focused on themselves and their own needs.
They have a limited ability to love others or even have respect for another perspective or point of view. They do not value another opinion or value The emotions expressed by others, they do not value. The other person at all. So when you accept this reality, it will help you to acknowledge your role as a caregiver is for someone that has no ability to return, feelings of love, appreciation, or even tolerance.
My next lesson will be on how to live with a narcissistic parent Star and Mary Jean in my previous lesson.
Took a very long time to create that detachment. My next lesson will address how to live with and survive and aging narcissistic parent. I'm Diane Carbo with caregiver Relief.
Remember, you are the most important part of the caregiving equation. Without you, it all falls apart. Practice self care. Every day. Get rid of the guilt. Remember, you are worth it.
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