When the child of a narcissistic parent is very young, the narcissistic parent is often at her happiest in her role as a parent. Young children are easier to control & manipulate. They also don’t want independence.
Unfortunately for the narcissistic parent, children don’t stay little forever.
As children grow up, many narcissists feel threatened or even betrayed. The reason being, I believe, is that the harder the child is to control, the worse this is for the narcissistic parent. They want that young child to make them look good by behaving properly, being interested in what the parent wants them interested in, etc. The younger a child, the easier the child is to control. This is why the teen years can be extremely hard for narcissistic parents & their children. Teens are growing up & naturally want more independence. This is unacceptable to the narcissist, so they use whatever means they can to keep their teenager a young child. Some weapons they use are:
- Disapproval. This can be either in the forms of disapproving looks or questioning your choices.
- Criticism. Insulting your choices or tastes, usually done under the guise of helping. The narcissistic parent is trying to make you believe she knows what’s best for you, you don’t.
- Interfering. Telling you what you should do, who you should date or not allowing you to date, even sabotaging relationships with people the narcissistic parent doesn’t approve of.
Unfortunately, these behaviors don’t end when the child turns into an adult. Often, they continue well into adulthood. They certainly did with my parents. My parents had very strong opinions on what I should do & who I should do it with.
There are no ways to get a narcissist to stop trying to infantilize their child, no matter the child’s age. But, there are some ways you can handle this maddening behavior.
You’ll need to limit the amount of information you reveal to your narcissistic parent. Any information they have can be turned into ammunition used to hurt you.
Use good boundary setting phrases, such as, “Thanks, but the situation is under control.” “I’ve made my decision, & there is nothing more to discuss.” “I didn’t ask for your opinion on this matter.”
Changing the subject may work too. Often with narcissists, you can’t simply change the subject & expect them to respect that the first time. It may take doing this a few times or doing it over & over in a short span of time, but it usually works- they get tired of fighting to talk about the topic. The often short attention span of many narcissists can work in your favor.