Why Do Narcissistic Parents Side With Their Child’s Abuser?

My mother hated my ex husband from the moment she first saw him.  She barely tolerated him after we got married… until he hit me.  At that time, my mother saw me injured a couple of days after, with my ex’s hand prints still bruised on my wrists.  She told my father she couldn’t imagine what I’d done to him to make him hurt me.  Months later, I learned my parents saw my ex around town & were friendly with him.  Around 18 years later, my mother called one day & said my father told her my ex hit me.  She asked if this was true.  I said yes.  She told me how if she would’ve known, she would’ve contacted a lawyer & pursued it.  I also realized during this conversation that seeing me battered meant nothing to my mother, & she forgot it happened.

Sadly, my story is not unique.  Narcissistic parents often side with their child’s abuser.  The facts don’t matter.  According to narcissistic parents, the abuser is right & their child is wrong.  This behavior can be one of the most painful & baffling of the many abusive behaviors of a narcissist.

I have some clues as to why narcissistic parents behave in this manner.

When someone upstages a narcissist in any way, it’s bad in the narcissist’s eyes.  People pity another person covered in bruises or wearing a cast, which means there is less attention for the narcissist.  To a narcissist, this means that person should be punished, & what better way to punish someone than to side with the person who hurt them?

If their child doesn’t have physical evidence of abuse, their parent doesn’t believe them.  Narcissists lie & assume everyone else does.  It’s projection.  So unless their child has evidence of abuse, their parent won’t  even believe they were abused.

Narcissists believe they are the only ones worthy of attention, so when another person, in particular their “lowly” child gets attention, they get angry.  With narcissists, any attention is good attention.  All they see is someone got attention that they didn’t get, & that makes that person bad.

Narcissists don’t want to accept that abuse is wrong, because then they would be wrong.  Rather than face truth, it’s better in a narcissist’s mind to normalize abuse & make the victim bad.

If the abuser was the other parent, making the abuse ok means it was  also ok that they didn’t protect their child.  Remember, with narcissists, everything is about them.  If they can spin your trauma around to how hard it was on them, denying knowing it happened, or denying it happened at all, it makes their lack of protecting their child acceptable.

The abuser is someone a narcissist admires & they’re afraid the victim will make them look bad.  Narcissists care what people other than their victim think of them & certain people’s opinions they value above all else.  If that person hurts their child, their primary concern is still how that person sees them.  As an example, my mother believed my in-laws’ were a big happy family.  When I told my parents my mother in-law was abusive, even siting examples, my mother didn’t believe me.  Until our relationship ended, my mother asked my husband often how his mother was, sent his parents Christmas cards, then bragged to me about sending them cards.

Jealousy is another reason narcissistic parents side with abusers.  In cases where a narcissist’s adult child is being stalked &/or harassed, most narcissists act like the abuser really must love their child rather than realizing the abuser has serious control issues.  This makes them jealous.

Narcissistic parents are often lazy.  Just because they have a child doesn’t mean they want to parent.  They get angry if they have to care for their child, & take the focus off of them for any length of time.

Covert narcissistic parents like to rescue their child.  Coverts gain narcissistic supply from appearing good & kind, so if they can wait until their child is terribly abused, then rescue him or her in some way, it’s  supply to them.

Whatever the reasoning, remember when your narcissistic parent sides with someone who has hurt or abused you, it is just more evidence that your parent is the one with the problem, NOT you!  Normal people don’t side with abusers over victims!  xoxo


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

14 responses to “Why Do Narcissistic Parents Side With Their Child’s Abuser?

  1. Brandy Martin

    Thank you. It’s taking so long to heal. It seems like there is something new I haven’t addressed almost everyday. Reading your words today really hit my heart. I’ve never grasped some of the “whys” until right now. I’m sorry for the abuse you endured. I am so thankful you are no longer in that place.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I totally relate… I feel the same way. Seems like when you think there can’t possibly be anything else, something else shows up, doesn’t it? So frustrating! Narcissistic abuse really permeates every single part of a person, sadly.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Whew. You’ve nailed it again, Cynthia. All the reasons why a narcissist will side with their scapegoat’s abuser — I can say that they all ring a bell.

    This post reminds me of the time that my mother came over to my first husband’s and my apartment on my 17th birthday, to tell me all the reasons why he was right to have beaten me up earlier that day.

    That moment was a huge turning point for me. I finally acknowledged in my heart that my mother wasn’t a mother. And I told her to get out of my house. Bruised, bloodied, utterly heart broken, and so very alone. But somehow, deep down inside, I had the God-given strength to tell that evil woman to get out of my home.

    She has never been in my home since.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your mother continues to make me sick with every story you tell about her. I am so sorry she was so cruel to you. It’s horrific anyone would treat another person, let alone their own child, that way. No wonder she’s never been in your home again. That is a smart move.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My mother did have to get her last licks in though, before she left my home for the very last time. What she did, after I told her to get out….

        Mmm. I’m not in the mood to write about that right now. But it will be in my book. My book is coming along, slowly but surely. The good news is that I haven’t missed one single day of writing in my memoir since September 7 of last year. That’s a record for me! Especially considering that I’ve had surgery and got the flu and all kinds of things have happened since September 7.

        For me, the key is writing at least a little every day without fail, no matter what. For so many years I have tried to write my story, trying and failing over and over again. It was just too painful for me to write, before. But now I have healed enough that I am finally, actually doing this! Praise God! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My mother chose to be nice to my ex even though she knew that he was not the best thing for me. My mother was my abuser and her attitude towards my ex didn’t help our relationship at all. It’s interesting to me that my exes mother also didn’t seem to care that her son was not the best of people and she would vote for him rather than vote for what was right in our marriage. That’s why he’s my ex. Thank you for writing because it made me think. it made me remember. If nothing else it made me come to terms with some things I had not thought about in a while. thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. purplexxxxxx

    Hi Cynthia, thank you for this article, I can relate to it and I hope you don’t mind if I share my experience. I don’t tell many people about this, but from your article I feel like I want to stand up and be counted among people who have experienced this.

    Twenty five years ago I was at university and in a toxic relationship with someone who I now realise was a narcissist. It was a volatile, emotionally abusive relationship which turned violent on a couple of occasions. I had no idea what to do and didn’t want to ‘betray’ him by talking to my friends about it, and I didn’t want to tell my parents. That summer, I was on a study trip and during that time, my (now ex) contacted my parents by phone and letter, and went round to their house. He told them how awful I was, made up a complete load of lies (gaslighting) and painted me in a very bad light. He also admitted via letter that he had tried to strangle me (which was the truth).
    Once I returned from my trip, he came round to our house again (when I have told a few people this, they are shocked that my parents let him come in, let alone engage him in conversation). My parents appeared to be out of their depth and I felt sorry for them that they had become caught up in this. My ex didn’t want me to return to university as it would be too traumatic for him to have me there. My dad disagreed and said I would be going. My mum then started to think of alternative things I could do so I would be out of the way.

    It has taken me a long time to recover from the abusive romantic relationship, I had many flashbacks and certain things still trigger me.
    However, I found it so hard to deal with my mum’s behaviour over the whole situation. She didn’t like my ex (mainly because he had a different colour skin to me), and she disapproved of our relationship. However when she heard what I had been through I don’t ever remember her trying to comfort me or make me feel good about myself. My ex made me feel like damaged goods and she did nothing to dispel that feeling. She told me not to tell my younger sisters or certain friends about it – presumably so that I wasn’t ‘poisoning’ them and leading them astray – with no thought for my emotional health and the fact it might have been helpful for me to talk to them about it.
    I used to feel sorry for my parents for getting dragged into this mess as they were out of their depth (as most parents would be in this situation – it’s not one you sign up for in parenting classes!) but she didn’t use instinct and love, she just didn’t want my ex upset and other people to find out about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! I’m glad you shared your story… it’s an empowering thing to do, isn’t it?

      I’m so very sorry for what you went through not only with your ex but your mom too. It adds insult to injury when your own parent act like what happened isn’t a big deal or you caused them embarrassment when you did nothing wrong.

      Were you able to return to the university & end your relationship with this man?

      Liked by 1 person

      • purplexxxxxx

        Hi Cynthia. Thanks for your message. Yes I was lucky. I returned to university, reported my ex to the Dean of Students (much to my mum’s horror as she didn’t want him to know how ‘bad’ i had been! he was very sympathetic to me). Relationship definitely ended with my ex, although a few years later he sent a letter to my best friend to pass to me as he no longer had my or my parents address…
        A few years later I met someone at work and after getting to know each other very well as friends we started dating. On Wednesday we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I have been very fortunate.

        Liked by 2 people

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