Childish Behavior In Narcissistic Parents

Many covert narcissists tend to behave like children in some ways.  I believe this is because they want to be coddled & taken care of like little kids.  Not that everyone doesn’t have that urge to be cared for sometimes but they really take it over the top.

Do you know if the covert narcissist in your life is behaving childishly?  Here are some ways to identify their childish behavior.

Childish adults don’t control their emotions normally.   Healthy adults have a good perspective.  Sure they get angry or sad sometimes, but it’s proportionate to the situation at hand.  Childish adults aren’t this way.  They get angry easily or cry at the drop of a hat, & their reactions are very disproportionate to the situation.

They lie.  Granted, all narcissists lie.  Childish ones however will lie even easier than their more mature counterparts.  If they’re in a situation where they are uncomfortable, childish narcissists will lie to get out of it.  Maybe they don’t want to attend their child’s Christmas play at school, so they say they have a headache in order to get out of it.

Blameshifting/blaming.  Another thing all narcissists love to do is shift the blame to their victim rather than accept responsibility.  Again though, childish ones do it even faster.

Excuses.  When a normal adult is confronted about something, they accept responsibility without making excuses.  Childish narcissists don’t do this.  They make up excuses, often really lame ones.  As one example, my late mother in-law was a covert & childish narcissist.  She used to snoop through my purse if I left her alone with it in her home for more than a moment, like if I went to the bathroom.  At one point, she left $40 in it.  I told my husband this isn’t her trying to bless me- it’s hush money so I’ll let her keep snooping.  As I listened from around the corner, he talked to her about staying out of my purse.  She whined about having “alllllll this cash just lying around” & said she had to get rid of it.  She didn’t mean any harm- she was just trying to get rid of some of that extra cash.  Lame excuse, no?

They feign incompetence.  Any adult who wants to be treated like a child will pretend they don’t know how to do things.  They may try to do something & do it really badly or break something, so the people in their lives get frustrated & just do the task for them.

Everything is a crisis.  Not every problem is a crisis, but childish narcissists act like they are.  If they have a crisis, then they can call on someone (usually their adult children) to run to their side to fix the problem.

Parentification.  Narcissistic parents are often very good at parentification.   This is when a parent treats a child more as a partner than a child.  The child is supposed to listen to the parent’s problems, often about such inappropriate topics as the parent’s marriage or sex life.  The child is supposed to take care of the parent’s emotional needs (cheer the parent when she’s sad, calm her down when angry, etc) & sometimes physical ones as well (such as cooking for or doing the laundry).  If both parents are narcissists, often the covert narcissistic parent will also expect the child to protect that parent from the overt one.  The child ends up very protective of that parent, not only with the other parent, but in general.  When that child grows up & gets married, if his new spouse has any complaint about the childish parent, the adult child will defend that parent to the spouse, often to the spouse’s surprise.  Excuses are made, the spouse is shamed for daring to be upset with the parent & more.

To deal with these childish behaviors in your narcissistic parent, don’t indulge them.  If your parent wants you to do something you know she can handle on her own, let her.  Tell her you aren’t able to take care of it but you know she can handle it just fine.

If she calls, complaining about  a crisis & you know it’s not really a crisis, put it in perspective for her.  Use cold logic.  Let’s say she’s upset because her mail hasn’t been delivered yet & it’s 2:00.  It usually arrives by 10, so she is upset it’s not there.  You can (calmly) say things like, “Mom, it’s still early in the day.  It’s the Christmas season & the post office is really busy this time of year.  They get behind sometimes.  If it doesn’t arrive by 6, contact the post office in the morning.”  Logic is a wonderful tool with narcissists.  They can’t say anything when the facts are completely clear before them.

Use logic when she lies, makes excuses or blames, too.  You can say things like, “I really don’t see how Susan doing that could make you behave that way.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Besides, I’ve known Susan for 10 years, & I’ve never known of her to do anything even remotely like that before.”  When you use logic, always stay calm & state the facts clearly.

If your narcissistic behavior acts childish with emotions, such as having a temper tantrum for not getting her way, treat her like the bratty child she’s acting like!  Tell her you aren’t going to talk to her until she calms down.  If you’re on the phone, tell her you have to go.  Use another phone to trigger your call waiting, so that way you can tell her your call waiting went off- you have to go.  (it’s not technically lying- your call waiting did beep!)

Regarding parentification behaviors… this is a tough one.  I honestly never found a way to stop my parents from doing it.  Saying, “It hurts me when you talk about Mom/Dad like this” doesn’t work with narcissists.  The one thing I found to be the most effective was to change the subject, especially back to my narcissistic parent.  Since narcissists love to talk about themselves, let that work in your favor.  Granted, you may not want to hear the latest gossip spoken about during her last bridge club but it sure beats hearing about 1,000 reasons she thinks your dad is a jerk!

There are ways to cope with childish behavior in narcissistic parents.  These suggestions are the best ones I’ve found.  Also don’t forget to pray.  Asking God for help is the smartest thing you can do.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

26 responses to “Childish Behavior In Narcissistic Parents

  1. Even as a very young child I saw the emotional immaturity of my Nrents. My CNM will be 90 this year and she has never matured beyond the emotional age of a toddler. She’s also parentified all of her children, but especially my GCB. And I’m the only one of my siblings to see this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sure I have much in common with you, but your abbreviations leave me confused.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I remember hearing years ago that some people who experience trauma in their childhood never mature emotionally past that age. I saw it with my father & mother in-law. I’m not excusing anyone, mind you, just stating an observation. I really don’t get that unless the trauma involves a brain injury since the brain gets physically altered (that’s what happened to my father). Could that be your mother too, trauma in her early life? Just wondering. I thought you’d mentioned she had experienced trauma. I talk to lots of people though so sorry if I’m either confusing you with someone else & forgetting your story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Many are traumatized in childhood. You and I certainly were. But not all traumatized children fail to develop emotionally. It’s an influence, but it doesn’t rob us of free will and the ability to choose between right and wrong.
        My mother was abused by my father, an alcoholic and MN. Their marriage was a nightmare. I know very little about her childhood. But I was able to observe her relationship with her parents, and I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing anything abusive from them toward her. In fact, they supported her and my sisters and brothers and I in many ways. Life would have been much more difficult without them.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I totally agree. I don’t get how it can stunt someone so badly unless a brain injury is involved.

          Strange… your grandparents sound like good people. Did they spoil your mom? Sometimes that can lead to narcissism too. Did with my father in addition to the brain injury. I always wonder how narcissists started being that way, I guess.. it’s interesting to see how they became the monsters they did.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I hope you don’t mind my chiming in here. I don’t think brain injury or even a particular event has to trigger a narcissist into becoming a narcissist.

            My mother came from poverty in Appalachia.and there were 9 children. From talking to aunts and the 1 uncle over the years, Grandma was cold and overbearing, and Grandpa was nice, but an alcoholic.

            They all coped in their own way. None developing into adults with self-esteem. None being anyone would consider to be a role model.

            I think my mother and one other aunt decided to immerse themselves into celebrity culture and cast themselves as “stars”. They read Hedda Hopper and cast themselves as better than the other sisters. They both went onto view their children and multiple husbands as servants and extensions of their stardom (a la Joan Crawford).

            All this to say, I think it comes down to neglect in childhood. They weren’t held or loved or mirrored as tiny children. .

            One other thought on this – it was drilled into all of their heads to keep family troubles inside the family. My therapist told me years ago this is common in alcoholic homes. Keep the secrets at all costs. Never reveal weakness to the outside world. Doing so is the ultimate betrayal.

            I don’t know if that helps or not. It has helped me to understand these family dynamics so that I can rise above it. But I am still angry that I’m the only one who seems interested in “rising above” or “transcending”.

            The rest of the family is dug into their dynamics. They all say things like “we were poor, but we had love”, which isn’t true at all. They will hold onto these beliefs until they die. To quote Louise Hay, “some people would rather die than admit they are wrong. And they do.”


            • That makes a LOT of sense about your mother! It does boil down to neglect from the sounds of it. Very sad. Still though, I get what you’re saying about being angry about being the only one who is interested in rising above. I feel that way too. My family would rather attack me & trash me than admit that someone in the family isn’t perfect or admit that me discussing my situation makes them think of their own issues they’re not willing to face. That makes me angry at them. Louise Hay was right on with that quote.

              By the way the reason I said about brain damage is because not just my father. I joined a TBI group on fb after surviving carbon monoxide poisoning when I realized my brain was pretty damaged. I thought it’d be supportive. Nope. SOOOO much narcissism! I also realized I was becoming very selfish & witnessing their behavior helped me to avoid turning into a self centered jerk.

              I really think illness & injury can make a person selfish, especially very severe ones. You’re scared & not thinking like you normally would, thinking all about your illness/injury, how are you going to do things in a new way since you can’t do them like you used to, etc. Then, I noticed it seems like when certain parts of the brain are damaged (frontal lobe in particular), it can turn normal people narcissistic to varying degrees or maybe just gives some the tendencies. My father sounds like he was already selfish but his TBI turned him narcissistic or maybe more narcissistic, not sure since it happened over 15 years before I was born. I was shocked upon seeing this in that group! I hung in there a bit because I was trying to see what was going on with this.. it was interesting! Couldn’t take it for long though since my tolerance for narcissism is so low. It also made me mad.. why could I see it & control it but others couldn’t? Or was it they wouldn’t?

              This wasn’t supposed to turn into a lecture! Sorry!! I actually tried keeping my story short, believe it or not.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Your dad had a brain injury 15 years before he gave birth to you? Am I reading that right? And he went ahead and had you anyway? And then acted “helpless” in how he raised you?

                You said, “I really think illness & injury can make a person selfish,” I disagree. I think “nice” people faced with an illness or injury think of their children first. They want to get their wills and financial stuff in order.

                Of course, i don’t know any “nice” people.

                All people in my world are narcissists who just want to TAKE to benefit them


                • Yep.. my father was 15 when he was driving home & hit head on (so to speak) by a stupid local drunk who was driving drunk yet again.

                  Yep.. I gather from what I’ve heard from family & others with brain injuries that at that time, TBIs weren’t taken terribly seriously, as if they had no long term effects. Also knowing his personality & how embarrassed he was by it, I guess him hiding his symptoms as best he could was natural (well, kinda… sorta) but they still showed up. I just wish he’d had the guts to admit to having ongoing problems!

                  That is also true.. “nice” people try to get their affairs in order when the end is near. But even so, some “nice” folks do change with illness or injury. I know someone whose husband was a good guy. Once he started facing serious health problems, he stayed pretty nice & normal, but once things started to progress, he became more selfish & demanding. It was strange since that wasn’t him!

                  Ugh… you need nice, normal people. I wish you lived closer- I have some awesome people in my life who I know would just adore you & you them.

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. It hurts so much to accept that our parents didn’t love us. That we have to be bigger than our parents to move forward. And even though God is on our side, it is still such a tragedy that we had NO SUPPORT. And were instead beaten down.

    I cry out for justice, and God tells me Justice is His. I know this is true. But it doesn’t take away the hurt that my parents did not love me. And they only viewed me as a weapon to hurt the other one.

    The world does not care or understand.
    The callousness hurts the same.

    I know God is with me. And, looking back, I know He was always with me. And He wanted me to view my parents as foolish.

    Which on a gut level I always knew was true.

    But it is still so unfair.

    It is sad that an empath has to be born from a place of abuse.


  3. ibikenyc

    A thing I’ve only recently started to realize is that my warped ideas about what “love” looks like have gone two ways: One has been the typical / usual one where I’ve kept “choosing” partners who have treated me as badly as did my family of origin.

    The other one, though, is what I’m dealing with lately, and that is essentially the other side of that same coin: When the behaviour wasn’t abusive, it was enmeshing. That has left me with unhealthy expectations for what it’s supposed to look and feel like when someone genuinely does love me. Sorting this through has been much more painful and, especially, shame-inducing, than facing the abusive stuff.

    As I’ve said before, the gift that keeps on taking.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ibikenyc

    As far as the bag-snooping “gift”-giver, I just. . . I read that part over and over (and again just now). What the actual?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Girl, do NOT get me started… her snooping caused so many fights between us it’s not even funny. I finally took matters into my own hands. Decided to lock up my purse in the trunk of the car when we were going to see her, but before that, I left my purse in snooping range.. filled with mint flavored condoms & handcuffs. 🙂 It stopped the snooping for a while! LOL When I realized it wasn’t permanent, I locked up my purse in the trunk. Funny part was when I did it, she came outside to where I was & handed me my purse with the comment, “You left your purse in my house.” She looked very “off” to put it mildly. I told hubby & later his sister, Thing 2, about what I left in there. Both said, “Mom wouldn’t understand any of that.. it wouldn’t phase her.” Well, it did! She wasn’t as naive as they thought!

      Liked by 2 people

      • ibikenyc

        MINT-flavored condoms? I really need to get out more! 😉

        I woulda been more in the mousetrap camp, myself.

        My mother was that degree of intrusive. Among other things she once sat literally laughing out loud at my indignation and rage at her opening my mail.

        Mr. Happy is, too. Years ago, I found out he’d read a number of my diaries. He gloated about it, made digs at me about stuff I’d written in them (he still does that, every now and then), and ended up BLAMING ME for his reading them because I hadn’t had them literally under lock and key.

        His response to my rage about that was (I swear I’m not making this up) to bring home a big trunk with a hasp on it and a lock for that hasp. He handed me the lock with its two keys still sealed in the package, to prove that he didn’t have a key himself.


        • LOL! Believe it or not, a nurse where I got my birth control gave them to me when I told her about the mother in-law. Loved that woman!

          I wanted to do a rat trap, but Eric got mad because it’d break her fingers. I told him she wouldn’t have to worry about it if she just stayed out of my purse. He wasn’t amused, so I gave up on that & went with the condoms before locking my purse in the cars trunk. She’d snoop through Eric’s car so it had to be the trunk. Once yelled at me about something she found in his car, too. Crazy!

          Disgusting how your mother could find that funny!!

          Wow. Mr Happy is something else! Your fault he snooped then said you needed to get a big trunk to lock them in. That’s insane!

          Liked by 1 person

          • ibikenyc

            I love her now, too (the nurse)! Oh, my goodness! LOLOL!

            Yeah, well, I’m completely on your side regarding the rat trap.

            I’m STUNNED by the type and degree of hubris it takes to complain about something you experienced while in a place YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE!

            (And she yelled at YOU for something in HIS car? Uh. . . this is reminding me of how your own mother yelled at you for what the boyfriend did / didn’t do / say.)


            • That nurse was the best.. LOL She handed me probably 20 & said, “I’m giving these to you on the stipulation that not so much as ONE ends up inflated & on my car.” I agreed… LOL

              Rat trap sounded reasonable to me too.. stay out of my purse & no broke fingers. Fair enough, right?!

              No kidding… it’s really incredible isn’t it?!

              Yep. She found our electric bill.. we were a bit behind & she found the shut off notice then yelled at me for not telling her about it. Makes sense, right?? Truly reminiscent of my mother yelling at me for things the boyfriend did/didn’t do/say/etc. Seems like many people think it’s fine to yell at me & blame me for things I had nothing to do with. My family is the same way. Amazing the things I was supposedly responsible for according to those jokers.

              Liked by 1 person

              • ibikenyc

                How funny! LOLOL!

                That time my mother read my mail was very similar: It was an UNOPENED bill of some kind! What the ACTUAL?!

                Shoulda told her that forty bucks wasn’t enough to get caught up and to next time give you enough to pay it off!


                • Oh I know! That lady was a TRIP! Broke my heart when she died a few years ago. I loved seeing her when I went to that doctor’s office. It was a guarantee there were going to be some laughs. 🙂 She was sweet too.. always complemented me on my “peaches & cream” skin.

                  An unopened bill?! Oh, well, now it makes perfect sense!

                  LOL!! I should have! Or told her I need more than $40 because stripping isn’t getting this electric bill paid like I thought it would.. her head would’ve exploded. LOL Yanno, with moving into my in-laws’ home at some point in the near future, we’ve taken stuff over there including my 2 cars that need restoration & that the mother in-law hated almost as much as me. Part of me felt kinda bad since she’d spin in her grave knowing my cars are on her property. Don’t like being disrespectful. Yet, there’s another part of me that is very different & has a “take that!!” attitude about it. Odd & conflicting, but at least it can be kinda funny imagining the look on her face if she saw my car in her garage.. I saw the look before, the first time she saw it after I got the car back from my ex husband. Looked like she was slapped across the face with a dead fish… LOL

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • ibikenyc

                    You DO have a peaches-and-cream complexion! How nice of her to notice and say so 🙂 So sorry she passed away.

                    Yeah, right? Opened mail is off-limits. It’s only the still-sealed ones that are fair game (EYEROLL).

                    I had heard that exotic dancing doesn’t always pay as well as people think. Sometimes a girl just falls behind on her bills (EYEROLL).

                    It’s very kind of you to be worried about her turning in her grave about your cars’ being there, but you have my permission to go with the “take that!!” 😉

                    And LOLing at “slapped across the face with a dead fish”!


                    • That’s sweet of you to say.. thank you!

                      I’m sorry too.. she was no spring chicken when I knew her.. past retirement age but I guess either needed to keep working or enjoyed her job.

                      Makes perfect sense about the unopened mail.. what?! You don’t think so?! LOL

                      So true about exotic dancing! I could’ve told her I was quitting though & going to be a high class call girl since they make better money… lol

                      Thank you for your permission for “Take that!!” LOL I try to keep that mindset more than worrying about being disrespectful.

                      Glad you liked the dead fish thing.. it does give a pretty accurate mental picture of the look.. lol

                      Liked by 1 person

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