One of my readers made an interesting point. She read my post about The Silent Treatment that I wrote a couple of days ago, & mentioned how she gives her mother what she calls the silent treatment. Hers is a bit different than her narcissistic mother’s silent treatment- she doesn’t try to punish her narcissistic mother with it (as narcissists do). Instead she only speaks to her mother on her terms (when she is able to talk with her), & is very careful with the limited information she shares. This is also what Dr. Karyl McBride, author of “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” calls the civil connection.
I’ve done this with my mother & mother in-law. Both are narcissists, my mother being the overt type, mother in-law the covert. Both have responded very differently to it. My mother used to get very frustrated, but it didn’t take her long to get to the point where she gives up quickly on me. I’m more stubborn than her, & she knows that, so I assume she realizes there’s no point in trying to get something “juicy” from me once I’ve made up my mind not to give anything up. My mother in-law, however, was a different story. She would become visibly flustered, & try any tactic she could to force me to talk. It became just plain funny to me after a while! Watching her get angrier & angrier, yet unable to say or do anything about it for fear of looking bad, became very entertaining to me.
Have you tried this with your narcissistic mother? If not, you have to try it!! If nothing else, it’ll amuse you!
I like to give one word (or close to it) answers. For example…
Mother: “How are you?”
Mother: “What have you been up to lately?”
Me: “Not much.” (she already thinks I’m lazy, so she’ll believe I haven’t done much)
See how that works? It’s really easy.
Chances are, your narcissistic mother will start to push for more information from you when you give her such curt responses. She will hint around, trying to get you to talk, as she won’t ask outright for fear of looking unreasonable, bad, or whatever. Refuse to respond! Ignore the hints. I’m telling you, it will fluster her, & if you’re lucky, she’ll give up trying to get news from you.
Once, I had a doctor’s appointment on a day when my mother in-law thought I should do something for her (which is amazing in itself- she’s hated me from the day we met, so why would she think I would be willing to help her in any way?!). I told her I couldn’t do it- I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. I should have said “prior obligation” instead of admitting what I was doing, but it slipped out. It turned out to be hilarious for me though! She said things like, “Well, if you’re seeing the doctor, it must be serious. I understand why you can’t do this for me…” (I simply said “Thanks” in response), “If you can’t reschedule it, that isn’t a good sign. I’m so worried about you!” (yea, right! She didn’t care- she just wanted information, so I simply told her I was fine.), “Why are you seeing the doctor?” (the only direct question she asked, & I ignored her question, as I was listening to my husband & his father talk- I pretended I didn’t hear her over them), or “I guess you can’t do this for me since you HAVE to see the doctor on that day & no other…I don’t understand why it has to be THAT day..” (to which I responded with, “Nope, I can’t do it.”) By the time my husband & I left her home shortly after, I was surprised her head didn’t explode! I barely made it to the car before I started laughing!
If you haven’t tried this type of interaction with your narcissistic mother, please consider doing so! Not only will it entertain you, it will give her less opportunities to hurt you. You will speak to her only as you are able to do so, & by limiting your conversation as well as your exposure to her, you will give her less to criticize about you. It really will make your interactions with her much easier for you! Also, it’s not disrespectful, so if you are concerned about not honoring your mother, as many Christian daughters of narcissistic mothers are, please don’t worry!