How to Handle a Narcissistic Parent
You have a few options
Notice my title does not say how to live peaceably with a narcissistic parent? Or how to have a fulfilling relationship with a narc parent? Neither of those things will ever happen. Now that we got that sad bit of news out of the way let's move on to how you can protect your sanity when you have to interact with a narcissistic parent.
- A “normal” relationship. This will be the ultimate fake it ’til you make it scenario. You will take her abuse and pretend she can’t hurt you. You will be a dutiful daughter or son and make the required phone calls and visits with a smile on your face but she will never be satisfied. She will talk behind your back about how horrible you are. She will twist every innocent comment or misunderstanding to make you look like a broken, selfish human.
- Low contact. You will spend less time and energy on your parent. You will meet in public places to force better behavior out of your narc parent. You will never stay at their home or have them stay in yours. You will make the least amount of phone calls necessary and never speak with her about personal things. When a mutual acquaintance reports what your narcissistic parent has said about you it will become necessary to ask them never to speak of your parent again. I know some children have been able to exist in this space well for years. This level of contact will still take a toll on your mental health. You know you have tried to do your duty by your parent so will have less guilt if you decide to go no contact.
- No contact. You will shut off all communication with your narc parent and focus on healing. You can choose to send a letter or have a final conversation with your parent about what you will be doing or just go silent and block your parent from communicating with you. You may have to cut some other relationships as well if the narc parent sends “flying monkeys” to try to pull you back in. You will eventually live in peace with little to no thought about your parent.
I tried options one and two over the years. Eventually, I realized our relationship was toxic which led me to advice that pointed me in the right direction. I went no contact temporarily and then as I began to learn more I kept extending how long I wanted to take a break from her until I realized it needed to be for the rest of her life.
When I went no contact with my mother for the final time she never tried to reach out to me again in any way. She did begin to send my children cards and gifts in the mail. After she treated one of my children badly I sent her a note telling her she would no longer be allowed to contact me or my children. She tried one more time and then stopped as far as I know.
I now believe my narc husband was in contact with her all along and has recently put our children in contact with her again. I have done what I could to stop it but it is now out of my hands. I am interested in how narc v. narc is going to end. I just pray my children will be spared from their drama.
You will have to work hard to maintain no contact because the narc will come up with ways to try to pull you back in. You will probably hear that she is close to dying and be tempted to make your peace with her. She may try to use money to bring you back. She knows how to get to you so don’t be surprised at how low she may go. You may want to think through some of the possibilities so you have a game plan and will not be shocked into doing something you will regret later.
When I went no contact with my mother I made a long list of all the abusive things she had done to me. Whenever I was tempted to make contact I made myself read that list first. I always changed my mind. It is helpful to have someone you can talk to about having a narc parent. You may need to go to counseling. If you can find a friend who also had a narc parent to share your struggles with it will help.
Now that I am free of my narc mother I can finally heal. It is amazing how her voice in my head was stopping me from living my life until I kicked her out of my mind. How do these people have such a hold over us? I know it is because we have been programmed by them for their purposes so anything we do that doesn’t fit their agenda is a struggle.
Once we are aware that our parent is narcissistic and would stop at nothing to destroy us we have to do better for ourselves. I believe no contact is the best option but I know others have found peace at other levels of contact.
Next time I will write about ways to keep your sanity if you must be in contact with a narcissist.