Parents should be supportive and loving, and allow their children to grow up to be individuals. But some parents see their children as extensions of themselves. They are controlling, manipulative, and make everything about them. They're known as narcissistic parents, and can be stifling and difficult. So if you recognise that one of your parents has the characteristics of a narcissist, how can you deal with them? Try these ways to handle a narcissistic parent and survive …
1. They Have a Problem
Remember that your parent is the one with the problem, not you. Unfortunately you have to deal with the consequences of their narcissism, and it's impossible to ignore altogether. But don't let them make you feel in any way inadequate or let them destroy your confidence. You're not inadequate or lacking,
2. Support Elsewhere
Narcissistic parents can wreck your confidence and make you feel everything's your fault. You may also be the only target of their behavior. Find support from other members of your family. They can probably see how wrong your parent's behavior is and what it's doing to you, so look to them to undo the negative messages you’ve received.
3. Don't Overcompensate
Children of narcissistic parents may learn to be 'people pleasers' through doing their best to keep their parent happy. They may choose a similar partner to their parent, who doesn't really value them. Don't overcompensate and become a doormat who'll do anything to keep other people happy. Sometimes you have to be a bit selfish and look out for yourself.
4. Recognise Their Tactics
Narcissistic parents don't usually grow out of it, and can still treat you as their 'mini-me' when you're well into adulthood. They will probably do their best to get their own by playing on your fear of upsetting them. Learn to recognise their tactics, so that you can evade their attempts to manipulate you.
5. Not Always Right
Believe it or not, your parents are not always right. Even as an adult we can still find it difficult to argue with our parents' opinions. So when your narcissistic parent tries to force their opinions on you as the 'right' ones, answer with 'you're entitled to your opinions' or 'I see it differently' - or just maintain your position without justifying it.
Narcissistic parents can do so much damage to your emotional well-being that a course of therapy may be valuable. It will help you work through your feelings and learn that your parent's treatment of you was not your fault. You'll also learn better coping mechanisms and learn how to move forward in your life.
7. Make Your Own Life
If a narcissistic parent is truly making your life miserable, your only option may be to distance yourself from them. Make a life for yourself that doesn't include them, or keep your contact with them to a minimum. Don't allow them to cloud the rest of your life and make you feel miserable - you deserve much more than that.
Narcissistic parents can do a lot of damage to their children. They may also target one of their children, who then grows up feeling inferior to their siblings. Learn to value yourself and understand that your parent has the problem, not you. Do you think that your parents don't treat you like an independent adult?