I was recently watching a TV show where one of the main characters developed PTSD after being carjacked & tortured. Someone suggested he visit his attacker in jail & confront him. He did. The attacker didn’t even remember who he was at first, then told him he let him live- the victim should be grateful. He also blamed the victim for scaring him at one point during the attack. The victim finally left. He later was talking to his father about it & said nothing changed. Confronting that man did nothing to help him.
I thought about this in the context of those of us with narcissistic parents. Sometimes people tell adult children of narcissists that we should confront our parents. It’ll do us good to get it all out. It doesn’t matter how they respond or if they deny what they did because we know the truth.
Sometimes, that isn’t true however.
If you’re in the position of considering confronting your narcissistic parent, I strongly urge you to pray & think before doing so. Think about what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to just get things out or are you hoping for validation? If you’re hoping for your parent to validate your pain & admit to the things they’ve done, then you may be in for a very rude awakening. Narcissists seldom admit to making mistakes, & when they do, often it is turned around so the victim is to blame. “If you wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have said that.”
Do you think confronting them will change their behavior? Again, you may be in for a rude awakening. Narcissists rarely change their behavior, & when they do, it’s usually for the worse. If a narcissist knows that something they do hurts you, they will do it again & again & again. Hurting you makes them feel powerful, so yes, they will continue to do it repeatedly to get that “high.”
However, if you want to confront your narcissistic parent to clear your mind or get things off your chest, & you genuinely don’t care about what they say or do, then you are in a position where confronting your parent may benefit you. It may help you to feel some peace or feel lighter by getting things out of you. Even so, before you do, pray.. ask God to strengthen you against whatever nastiness they sling your way so you won’t be hurt when they deny their actions or act bored when you begin to cry. Narcissists are excessively cruel when confronted, & even the strongest people need extra strength to deal with them.
If you are wondering, I’ve decided not to confront my narcissistic parents. At the time of writing this, it’s been almost 1 year since my mother & I have spoken, over a month for my father & I (very rare for him- he used to call constantly. He must be very mad at me). I thought about it recently.. I wonder if either of them will want to talk things out. If they do, I won’t go along with it. I have nothing to say & don’t want to hear anything they have to say. I’m at peace with that decision. I know nothing I can say will change their behavior or make them see the errors of their ways. I also don’t need to get things off my chest to them. Doing so would only hurt me more when they ignore me. I’ll pray or write in my journal instead.