How to Deal with a Narcissist
If you grew up with a narcissistic mother or father you know will know what I’m talking about. Even adult children (if they are still trying to get approval, love or avoid disapproval and anger) take care of the needs of the parent at the expense of their own needs. The narcissistic parent is very self-centered and expects others to always put the parent’s needs first. There is no awareness of how it hurts the child’s sense of self and self-esteem. And, sadly, some parents are not capable of caring about how this affects their children. Not that they want to intentionally hurt their child, but narcissists are often very unaware of their own behavior because their pain and needs must come first.
The result for the child of the narcissist – low self-esteem, self doubt, depression, health issues (ulcers, etc…), fears and anxiety, and an inability to stand up to others (bosses, significant others, spouses and even their own children). Not knowing how to take care of themselves and set limits with their narcissistic parent can follow the child of the narcissist into all other important relationships in their lives.
So what can the adult child of a narcissist do? Standing up to an entitled, narcissistic mom or dad may be difficult and cause “narcissistic rage” in the parent. Does that mean avoiding setting limits to avoid making them angry? No. Does it mean continuing to take care of a narcissist to the point where your own needs and feelings are neglected? No. It means learning how to take care of yourself over time, little by little, even if it frustrates and angers your parent. You can learn to tolerate the anger and disapproval of a narcissist. Your emotional well-being and the health of your relationships with others depends on it.
As much as you love your parent and he or she loves you, the narcissistic parent was not able to help you develop a healthy sense of yourself. A healthy parent/child relationship encourages autonomy and allows a child to develop, express feelings and take care of his or her own needs. If you did not learn how to do this as a child, it is not too late – you can learn how as an adult.