Posted in Alienation

5 Ways To Deal With A Narcissistic Parent

Is your parent a narcissist? Many parents are difficult or overbearing, but a few cross the line into the pathological type of narcissism that can turn your relationship into a nightmare. If your parent fits this description, here are five ways to cope.
1. Recognize that their behavior is abnormal, not merely “difficult.”

Most people ultimately want to work out a problem in a way that’s mutually agreeable, but a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder thrives on the power play. For a parent with NPD– or who you suspect has NPD– it’s often “their way or the highway.” In my own family, my father has chosen not to see his grandchildren for years rather than make a reasonable concession about the terms of visits. If your parent values their ability to control you above having a functioning relationship, you can assure yourself that this is not normal or healthy human behavior.

2. Set firm boundaries.

A narcissistic parent will frequently overstep reasonable boundaries just to prove they can. They may invite themselves to events, make a point of giving gifts only to the family members they prefer, or disregard your wishes about how to interact with your children. You will often be in the position of having to enforce consequences for their inappropriate behavior– such as saying, “we’d be happy to visit you the day after Christmas, but not before, because we don’t want a repeat of what happened last year.” You may find yourself feeling as if you’re disciplining a child, but that is the reality of managing someone whose behavior is inherently selfish.

3. Don’t let yourself be gaslighted.
It’s very common for an NPD parent to try to convince you that you’re crazy or delusional. A friend’s mother constantly tells her she remembers situations incorrectly– even though a social worker’s documentation supports the friend’s version. My father would express concern for my mental health, claiming I was misremembering events from my life that he wasn’t even present for. I had thought this was a personal quirk of his until I learned it is a well-known manipulation tactic of people with NPD. While we don’t always remember things with perfect accuracy, you cannot let reality be dictated to you by someone with a personality disorder.

4. Realize that friends may not understand your situation.

Friends and acquaintances who have no experience with NPD often give the most unhelpful support and advice. They will say “she’s the only mother you’ll ever have, you need to do whatever it takes to work it out” or “He’ll come around eventually, you’ll see. My great-uncle was mad at the family for ten years and then made up with everyone.” But when your parent’s personality disorder is the problem, the normal routes to peace won’t work. It isn’t a matter of settling a disagreement– it’s a problem that will keep coming back unless the parent seeks treatment (which most people with NPD will not do). You may worry that others will judge you for creating distance between yourself and your parent. But don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for handling a narcissist differently from how you’d handle an emotionally healthy parent.
5. Accept that you may have to cut ties and move on.

For a long time, I believed it was my responsibility to try to “work it out” with my father. After a six-year estrangement, I met with him and then spent the next year trying to heal our relationship. But soon it became apparent that nothing was going to improve. He saw this not as a second chance or new beginning, but as an opportunity to make me pay for the things I’d done that he resented. Thanks to the extended break from his influence, though, I was able to clearly see how bizarre and unhealthy his behavior was, and knew my kids and I deserved better.

After a year of earnest effort, and another email telling me I needed to work harder to get back into his good graces, I realized we had reached the end of the road. I wanted a healthy father-daughter relationship, but he only wanted someone to manipulate, and I wasn’t interested in filling that role. I said goodbye and, more than a year later, have never had a moment of regret about it. I could not make peace with my father, but I could make peace with the absence of my father.

If you are dealing with a narcissistic parent, be aware that you’re not alone in your experiences. Online you will find many support groups, helpful articles, and people sharing their stories. And if you’re the friend of someone struggling with this situation, listen with sympathy and encourage your friend to trust and protect herself. In the end, no matter how good our intentions, life is too short to wait on another person to grant us peace of mind

Posted in Alienation

Spotting Manipulation:

In an article by Fiona McColl about manipulation, she identifies several methods of spotting manipulation. If you think you are being vicitmized, these are common signs to look for.

1. Bullshit apologies are often noticable. If your inner gut is telling you that an apology is bullshit, it probably is. Further if you are honest with an emotional manipulator about your feelings, he or she may turn their angst and stress upon you, until YOU wind up comforting THEM.

2. I’ll do you a favor, I guess is an example of a common manipulation tactic. A manipulator will propose or agree to assist you with a task, and follow the acceptance up with sighs and subtle behavior to let you know they do not want to follow-through on the agreement.

3. Manipulators are awesome at turning a phrase, by which I mean that they may say one thing, then later deny that they did not say anything at all! Also common is the telling of the truth in such a way as to mean something other than what, on the surface, has been said.

4. Guilt is a common tool for manipulators. Because manipulators often do not directly express their needs and wants, they use tactics, such as guilt, to get someone to act the way they want them to act. Typically this is manifested in terms of the victim needing to care for the manipulator’s needs, at the expense of your own.

5. Fighting dirty is not uncommon because manipulators do not like direct comfrontation. Often they are passive-aggressive and let you subtly know that they are not happy.

6. Being upstaged by the manipulator’s pain – you have a headache, he has a migraine. Calling them on this behavior often results in someone becoming defensive and combative.

How To Combat Manipulation:

1. Hold them accountable! Manipulators often are not held accountable and thus have poor boundaries with others. They do what it takes to get their way. If you tell someone how they hurt your feelings and then that person turns that around to be about them and their suffering, bring the conversation back to the original point- that your feelings are hurt.

2. Take notes! Take notes about conversations and important points, so that you can refer back to those notes later when a manipulator claims a conversation went a different way or never happened.

3. Walk away! Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just walk away. Revisit the situation later, and don’t get sucked in to the drama.

– See more at:

Posted in Alienation

What is Psychological Manipulation?

Psychological Manipulation is a type of influence that attempts to change the behavior or perception of others through underhanded, deceptive and abusive techniques. This advances the interests of the manipulator, generally at the victim’s expense, in methods that may be considered abusive, devious, deceptive, and exploitative.

In order to be successful, the art of manipulation involves two things – concealing aggressive or subversive intentions and behaviors while knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim well enough to know what will be the most effective psychological weapons or tactics to be used against them. This is most often accomplished through covert-aggression or carefully veiled aggression – which may be so subtle that it’s not easily detected.

Psychological Manipulators know what they want and fight hard to get it.

The tactics Psychological Manipulators use are very effective methods of power and control, because they’re almost impossible to be seen as aggressive on the surface, at the unconscious level, the victim feels backed into the corner. Once a victim is backed into a corner, it is more likely that they’ll back down or give into the manipulator’s demands.

Why Do People Manipulate?

There are many motivations behind manipulation – as varied as the manipulators themselves. Perhaps the manipulator needs to gain something purposefully or feels that they have to advance their own causes or plans – no matter what the cost to others may be. Maybe they need to feel powerful and in-control of their relationships with others. Maybe feeling powerful over others increases their own self-esteem. Maybe the person does not have the social skills to obtain what is wanted or needed by traditional means. Some Psychological Manipulators are psychopathic, having trouble empathizing with or understanding the feelings of themselves or others, and placing their own desires foremost because of it.

How Do Manipulators Manipulate?

There are many techniques that manipulators can use to gain power and control over their victim. Here is a breakdown of some manipulation techniques.

Brandishing Anger – manipulators use anger and rage to shock their victims into submission, although real anger is not necessarily experienced by the manipulator. The anger is simply a show to get whatever he or she wants by cowing the victim into submission.

Covert Intimidation – The victim is thrown on the defensive by manipulator using subtle, indirect, or implied threats.

Denial – The manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done anything wrong.

Diversion – Rather than giving a straight answer, the manipulator will often change the subject, often without the change being noticed.

Feigning Confusion – The manipulator plays dumb – pretending she or he has no idea what the victim is talking about, or is confused by the topic at hand.

Feigning Innocence – The manipulator suggests that anything harmful was done unintentionally or that it didn’t happen. This makes the victim question their judgement and/or sanity in feeling hurt or betrayed.

Evasion – Providing vague, rambling, incoherent responses to the victim. This often leads to confusion over the matter at hand, as well as making it less likely that the victim will be inclined to pursue further conversations on the topic.

Gaslighting – A form of psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that cause a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions and memories. Gaslighting causes victims to constantly second-guess themselves and wonder if they’re losing their minds.

Guilt-Tripping – The manipulator suggests to a conscientious victim that he or she doesn’t care enough, is too selfish, or has it easy. The victim generally feels guilt or shame as a result, and is thrown into a submissive, anxious, and self-doubting state.

Lying – By the time the truth is apparent, it may be too late to do anything about it. Many manipulative personality types are experts at lying and may do so in subtle ways that are hard to detect.

Lies of Omission – This is lying by withholding a part of the truth, usually with the intention of making something seem innocuous, or less harmful than it really was.

Minimization – The manipulator asserts that his or her behavior is not as harmful as is suggested.

Playing the Victim – The manipulator portrays themselves as a victim of circumstance or other people in order to gain pity, sympathy, or compassion from their conscientious victim.

Projecting the Blame – Scapegoating in subtle ways, blaming the victim or other people for the negative actions or consequences of their actions. This helps to portray the manipulator in a more positive light, and can actively harm the victim’s relationships with other people, who may not even have been involved.

Rationalization – An excuse from the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. Rationalization involves giving reasons as to why their behavior was justified and appropriate. When coupled with Guilt-Trips or Scapegoating, the manipulator will often wind up looking like a victim, evoking sympathy from the real victim.

Seduction – Using charm, praise, or flattery to lower the defenses of the victim so that the manipulator gains trust and loyalty.

Shaming – Sarcasm and insults can be used by the manipulator to increase self-doubt and fear in the victim, to make the victim feel unworthy. This may be accomplished by anything from a very subtle fierce look or unpleasant tone of voice to a rhetorical comment. This may make the victim feel badly for daring to challenge them, which also fosters a sense of inadequacy in the victim.

Vilifying the Victim – A powerful method of putting the victim on the defensive while masking aggressive intention.

– See more at:

Posted in Alienation

Do I Stay In Contact With My Narcissistic Parent?

eparating yourself from the sort of codependency that’s common from Narcissistic Parents may seem daunting. Sure, they were emotionally (or physically)(or both) abusive, but your Narcissistic Parent is STILL your parent.

As an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Parent, you have two options:

1) Total Estrangement – no contact, nothing, with your Narcissistic Parent.

2) Measured Contact – contact, but limited interaction with Narcissistic Parent.

If you choose to keep measured contact with your Narcissistic Parent, be very sure to follow some strict, clear guidelines:

  • Create very clear boundaries. Don’t reward your parent for crossing them. Be clear, but firm. If they show up unannounced, explain nicely that you are too busy to visit with them.
  • Shield your own children from their Narcissistic Grandparent. They do not need to be exposed to their toxic behaviors.
  • Rather than explain that you do not want to hear their advice, echo and mirror whatever the Narcissistic Parent says. Do whatever you’d planned to do anyway.
  • Go through a third party as your Narcissistic Parent ages – do not allow them to rely upon you and you alone as they need care.
  • Provide information on a “need to know” basis only. Just because your Narcissistic Parent tells you everything doesn’t mean you must reciprocate.

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Posted in Alienation

How Do Narcissistic Parents Abuse Their Children?

Narcissistic Parents have many subtle – and some not-so-subtle- ways in which they abuse their children. These types of abuse include the following:

  • Compulsively lying to children
  • Ignores and/or overwhelms the children
  • Neglects needs of the child
  • Makes child feel as though he/she does not matter
  • Puts parental needs far above those of the children
  • Mold children to an “ideal” image
  • Promotes and fosters a dependent relationship between parent and child
  • Distorts the concept of “love”
  • Manipulation for pleasure
  • Says one thing one day, something else the next
  • Untrustworthy
  • Uses the child’s vulnerabilities to exploit the child
  • Subtly and not-subtly insults children
  • Ignores personal boundaries
  • Treats others as objects, not people
  • Makes child feel as though he or she is insane

What Happens To The Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents?

Growing up with all emotional needs unmet, becoming a “mini-adult,” being the product of so much emotional abuse takes a tremendous toll on a child of a Narcissistic Parent. If the Narcissistic Parent does not stop the abuse or the child does not receive adequate help, one of two scenarios happens to adult children of Narcissistic Parents.

1) The child grows to have narcissistic traits, and becomes a Narcissistic Parent to his/her own children. This perpetuates the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse.

2) The child becomes a “covert” or “inverted” narcissist who remains codependent and may actually seek out abusive relationships with other narcissists.

I’m The Adult Child of A Narcissistic Parent…What Now?

Healing from such a traumatic childhood is absolutely a daunting task. Having your own emotional needs unmet for so long may make the notion of recovery seemingly impossible. It’s not. Here are some guidelines for recovery for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents:

  • Begin working through the grieving process – allow yourself to grieve the parent you never had.

Read more about grief and grieving.

  • Acknowledge that you’ve never learned how to properly deal with feelings, and begin to start working through these feelings.
  • Work toward loving that little child inside you in the ways your Narcissistic Parent never did.
  • Stop hoping that your Narcissistic Parent will change – he or she will not change.
  • Remind yourself every day that you need to take care of yourself – those needs for self-care are incredibly important.
  • Remember – you matter too. A lot.
  • You do not need to harm yourself or hate yourself. You’re a great person, worthy of love and devotion.

Read more about self-injury.

Read more about self-loathing.

  • Stop being afraid of your Narcissistic Parent – you are an adult, you survived hell, and you need to reclaim your life as your own. Start by erasing that fear.
  • Get rid of that feeling of not fitting in or belonging. It was put there by your Narcissistic Parent and it’s got to go.
  • We are none of us alone – that means you, too!
  • Find and connect with other Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
  • Find a therapist who specializes in treating Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
  • You’re probably still afraid of “getting into trouble” thanks to the way your Narcissistic Parent treated you. You’re an adult now, and you don’t answer to anyone but yourself.
  • Release some of that anger. Smash some plates. Scream. Hit a pillow. Anything to let the anger of being an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parent out.
  • Learn to be autonomous – start by making small decisions for yourself, and learn that you – yes YOU – are in charge of your own life.
  • You are more than worthy. No matter what your Narcissistic Parent told you, you are more than worthy.
  • Guilt. Ah, guilt. The best friend and worst enemy of an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parents. This may be the hardest of all the feelings to fight against, but you must. When that guilt is gnawing away at you, tell it to piss off.

Read more about guilt.

  • You do not need to feel guilty if you decide not to stay in touch with your Narcissistic Parent – it may be for your own good.
  • Remember that your needs are important. Don’t be afraid to make them know and ask for what you need.

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Posted in Alienation

Adult children of Narcissistic parents

What Are The Types of Narcissistic Parents?

Narcissistic Parents fall into two different categories. Engulfing parents and ignoring parents. Both of these types of Narcissistic Parents are incredibly damaging to their children.

1) Engulfing Parents: are Narcissistic Parents who see no boundaries between themselves and their children. Children are seen as extension of the parent – not as another person. For babies and toddlers, this is okay – small children don’t often see themselves as separate from their parents anyway.

An engulfing parent uses tactics like Parentification, Infantilization, and Triangulation (see glossary above) to keep the child close. This type of narcissistic parent will ignore all boundaries as a child ages, seeing no problem asking overly personal questions, reading the child’s emails and personal stories.

2) Ignoring Parents: are Narcissistic Parents who don’t actually care much about their children. Unlike Engulfing Parents, an Ignoring Parent sees the boundary between themselves and their child, and has no interest in their child.

This can be extremely confusing and bewildering as the child grows to feel unloved, uncared for, hindering future relationships for this child. Often, an Ignoring Parent doesn’t even bother helping a child with physical cleanliness, teaching hygiene, or helping with school work.

Sibling Dynamics In Narcissistic Parent Households:

If there are several children in a Narcissistic Household, the dynamic may be one of the Golden Child versus the Scapegoat, which can cause major friction and rightful jealousy between the children.

The Golden Child, seen as an extension of the Narcissistic Parent, can do no wrong, and even the most minor of achievements are cause for celebration, admiration, and rewards.

The Scapegoat Child is to blame for all of the family woes. While the Golden Child can do no wrong, the Scapegoat Child can do no right. All achievements are dismissed.

Clearly, this imbalance causes problems between the children, and offers the Narcissistic Parent the opportunity to Triangulate, as the Narcissistic Parent acts as a go-between between the children.

Traits of Narcissistic Parents:

While these traits may not match all Narcissistic Parents, what follows are some common traits of Narcissistic Parents:

1) A Narcissistic Parent has difficulty understanding the emotions of empathy and how to create meaningful connections. As the personal needs of Narcissistic Parents dominate, these parents have little room for the needs of anyone else. It makes it almost impossible for these Narcissistic Parents to relate to the feelings and meet the physical and emotional needs of their children.

2) A Narcissistic Parent owns the successes of his or her children. In a Narcissistic Parents mind, he or she has been sacrificing everything for his or her child – the child must retaliate by performing at or above expectations. These childhood achievements are then owned by the Narcissistic Parent as their own, “he’s a great soccer player – it’s my genetics. I was always athletic, too.”

3) Narcissistic Parents must be in control. No matter what. A Narcissistic Parent controls his or her children by dictating how these children should feel, should act, and the decisions to be made. This can lead to adult children of Narcissistic Parents being unsure of what they, themselves, like and want out of life. These Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents never learn to be autonomous and make his or her own decisions.

4) Narcissistic Parents emotionally blackmail their children. A Narcissistic Parent often is indulgent, kind, and sweet if a child is behaving in the way their Narcissistic Parent wants. However, the moment a child is disobedient, a Narcissistic Parent becomes enraged and cruel. This show of “I love you, go away,” creates insecurity and dependency among children of Narcissistic Parents.

How Do Narcissistic Parents Control Their Children?

There are a few ways that a Narcissistic Parent controls his or her young children. These control mechanisms include:

1) Codependent Control: “I need you. I can’t live without you.” This prevents children of Narcissistic Parents from having any autonomy, from living their own lives.

Read more about codependency.

2) Guilt-Driven Control: “I’ve given my life for you. I’ve sacrificed it all.” This method of control creates a feeling of obligation in children; that they “owe” their Narcissistic Parents and must behave in a certain way to make their parents happy.

Read more about guilt.

3) Love Withdrawal Control:You’re worthy of my love ONLY BECAUSE you behave the way I expect you to.” So long as their children are behaving properly, a Narcissistic Parent will be loving. That love disappears the moment a child doesn’t meet expectations.

4) Goal-Oriented Control: “We have to work together to achieve a goal.” These goals are generally the goals, dreams, and fantasies of a Narcissistic Parent. A Narcissistic Parent lives vicariously through his or her children.

5) Explicit Control: “Obey me or I’ll punish you.” Children of Narcissistic Parents must do as they’re told or risk shame, guilt, anger, or even physical abuse.

6) Emotional Incest Control: “You’re my one true love, The One, the most important person to me.” An opposite-sex parent makes his or her child fulfill the unmet needs of the Narcissistic Parent.

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