I believe many of us raised by narcissistic parents are very protective of those parents. We try never to hurt their feelings, or we don’t discuss how they abused us, keeping their dirty little secret. While very common, this can be very damaging to do! It angers you, which can lead to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure or even diabetes. Mentally, it takes a toll on you as well. It can leave you feeling depressed, angry or damage your self esteem because putting abusive people as a priority over yourself makes you feel worthless.
While I’m not saying yell a laundry list of their sins from the rooftops or cuss them out every time they abuse you, I am saying it isn’t your job to protect your narcissistic parents. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (KJV) People need to receive consequences of their actions, both good & bad, so they can learn & grow. Consequences teach a person & help them to learn & grow. Admittedly, narcissists aren’t exactly fans of self-improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the opportunities for such shouldn’t be there. Interrupting the natural laws of sowing & reaping doesn’t help anyone in the long run. It only enables their poor behavior which teaches them they can continue to mistreat you, & can cause you physical or mental health problems.
So why do it? Why would anyone protect their abusive narcissistic parents? I think there are a few reasons.
Narcissistic parents train their children from the moment of their birth to take care of them. Children are supposed to be their narcissistic parents’ emotional caregiver (emotional incest). Protect that parent from any kind of discomfort or pain at all costs. It’s OK if the child is hurt, that is not important, but never the parent.
Part of protecting narcissistic parents is to pretend the abuse isn’t happening. The child always knows that she is never to confront her mother about being abusive nor is she to tell anyone about it. Secrecy becomes deeply ingrained in the child. So much so, secrecy is second nature for her.
Narcissistic parents destroy their children’s self-esteem. Their children grow up believing they are nothing, they don’t matter & they have absolutely no value to anyone. This means they also believe that they have zero rights. These children believe that the abusive parent is much more valuable than they are, so they can’t speak up. They don’t have the right to do so.
I believe these three things work together to create a perfect storm, if you will, where the adult child of narcissistic parents grows up willing to do anything to protect her narcissistic parents in any way possible.
How do you replace this dysfunctional pattern with a healthier one?
First & foremost, as always, ask God for help. Pray for guidance, wisdom & anything you may need to change this pattern.
Work on improving your self-esteem. Don’t forget that you have just as much value as anyone else. The better your self-esteem is, the more willing you are to make yourself a priority & to take care of yourself.
Remember the law of sowing & reaping. That law is God’s law- it is NOT your place to interrupt it for anyone, not even your parents. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with telling your narcissistic mother you will not tolerate her abusive behavior. There is also nothing wrong with answering someone’s questions truthfully if they ask about your relationship with your mother.
If you feel the desire to discuss the abuse you endured, that is OK. You aren’t doing something bad or wrong. I aim to discuss my experiences in a matter of fact way so as not to be disrespectful to my parents. If they ever read anything I write, as angry & hurt as they may be, at least I can have a clear conscience that I was not cruel or trying to hurt them. Talking about your experiences shouldn’t be done out of revenge or desire to cause pain, but instead to help yourself & maybe others as well.
It isn’t easy to stop protecting your parents after a lifetime of doing so. Chances are you are going to slip up sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up for that! It happens. We all make mistakes! Just keep on trying, & the more you try, the easier it will get for you to behave in a more functional, healthy fashion.