I would like to make one small disclaimer on this post. I am writing it from the perspective of those in a position like mine, the adult child who severed ties with their parent for valid reasons. This doesn’t mean I always side with the adult children in these situations & assume all parents to be guilty until proven innocent. I absolutely do NOT believe in blindly siding with any specific person or even group.
Many times when an adult child severs ties with their parent, that parent claims to have no idea why their child did this. They say this happened without warning, totally out of the blue. My parents did this. I severed ties with them after a huge argument in May, 2016. During the fight, I felt all knowledge I have of narcissism went out the window because I was so hurt. I cried, I used bad language & I told my parents exactly why I was so upset with them rather than remain calm & set boundaries as I usually did. Oddly, they acted like I did this every day, & weren’t affected in the slightest by my behavior. It was the last time I spoke with my mother before her death, & one of the last times I spoke to my father before his. He tried to apologize a few months after the argument, but it was obvious from what he said, he had no idea why I was so upset. When cleaning out their home after my mother’s passing, I read some things she wrote & she was clearly just as oblivious.
This is very typical of abusive parents. My story is only one of many similar ones. This makes it so hard for the adult child in this situation, because you feel like your parent didn’t even care enough to listen to anything you said, let alone try to make things better. It’s so painful thinking they’re so unaware & uncaring. If you’re in this position, you know that hurt all too well.
I’ve come to realize something though. Whether or not they know, it truly has nothing to do with you & everything to do with them.
Normal human beings recognize when they have said or done something bad. They apologize & try to make amends. As anyone who has even a fleeting knowledge of people with narcissistic personality disorder knows, that isn’t how narcissists work. Apologizing & making amends are beneath them, so that won’t happen.
Also to apologize, they need to recognize they did something wrong. Narcissists lack the basic human empathy to see anything from another’s perspective, even when that problem is glaringly obvious to about anyone else in the world.
In many cases like this, however, the narcissists do know that they were wrong. They won’t admit it, but they know. You’re probably thinking I am wrong on this, but I really don’t think I am. If you pay attention to what a narcissistic parent in this situation says, there are hints that show they know they messed up.
They may talk only about their child going no contact with them or how angry that child has been with them. They talk about how this affects them. But they leave out things that led up to their child being so angry or making this decision. They may say things like their child says they are a terrible person or says cruel things to them, but where are the details? Those are left out. Sure, this could be a narcissist’s way to keep all focus on them & off their adult child, but I believe in many cases, it’s a way to make them look like the innocent victim & hide their awful behavior. The listener is supposed to be so distracted by what was done to the narcissist that it never occurs to them to ask what else happened.
If your narcissistic parent has told people they have no idea why you severed ties with them, I know you’ll feel hurt, maybe even unimportant because your own parent doesn’t care about why you opted for no contact. That is a natural way to feel but that doesn’t mean it is right! Whether or not your parent truly knows, their behavior is all about them, & is no reflection on you. Please remember that!
9 responses to “When Narcissists Claim They Don’t Know Why Their Adult Children Went No Contact”
Cynthia, well said. People eventually vote with their feet (if they have a chance), and walk away from toxic relationships. The parenthetical comment means some will need help to get away from a DV abuser. I was struck by the comment that the narcissist has to first admit he or she did something wrong. When I have seen a list of attributes of narcissists, the inability to do a mea culpa is high on the list. Thanks for your sharing of experiences for others. I hope it is cathartic as it is helpful. Keith
So very true. Getting away from abusers isn’t always easy like in cases of domestic violence as you mentioned but if the chance arises, most will take it.
It really is high on the list. Why admit they did something wrong when they can shift blame, deny, gaslight?! Such a frustrating thing for victims to deal with.
Thank you very much Keith. Sometimes it is cathartic, seeing my experiences in writing. The best part is when people say something I wrote helped them. It helps knowing all that suffering had a purpose.
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Cynthia, keep on keepin’ on.
You help. Keith
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Thank you ❤
I used to read things like this back when I was still married, and I thought a lot about parent-child relationships. Since getting divorced, I realize that my own parents are not so much narcissistic as they are neurodivergent and some of the symptoms are the same, but the underlying issues are different enough to require different handling. My husband, however, IS narcissistic, and for two years he has been going around telling people I left him for no reason. This is a rule that applies to parent-child, husband-wife, and all other close relationships: If someone says their child/partner/friend/whatever left “for no reason,” then the reason is that the person telling you this was not accepting feedback on his or her behavior. If you asked my husband “What reason did she give?” he might say something like, “Well, she said I yelled too much, but I didn’t yell that much, and anyway, everybody yells.”
Had to google neurodivergent.. never heard that term before. Very interesting, what little I read anyway. I see what you mean- that would require different handling than narcissistic behavior.
Very true! That is a sign they aren’t open to feedback.
Yep, that is typical narcissistic behavior- justify & minimize their bad actions. When they aren’t utterly denying them, of course.
I kinda gave up on my life due to my narcissistic parents and other narcissists especially covert narcissists, they keep Gaslighting me further and further it leaves me with no hope. Today I confronted my Dad regarding my sister trying to kill me and he Gaslighted me further by saying that she can’t kill me it is not easy and I told him how she threw footwear at me and my Dad told me that in anger she threw and other nonsense. I feel so lost in life due to these great people called “narcissists”.
I’m so sorry. Remember, you know the truth about what happened. Sometimes that has to be enough & it really can be. Narcissists don’t accept responsibility
I agree that they don’t take any responsibility. It’s wise to talk about the abuse I faced with open minded people only.
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