Tag Archives: child
Growing up with abusive parents, most kids think that once they turn 18 &/or move out, all their problems will be over. Many victims marry very young trying to rush this process along, & who can blame them?
The problem is though, this mindset is wrong. The abuse merely changes, it doesn’t stop.
In my experience, I left home at 19 after my first nervous breakdown. Although I didn’t know exactly what had happened to me at that time, I knew in my heart that I had to leave or lose my sanity. I moved back in 6 months later for only four days. On the last day, my mother & I got into an argument which escalated quickly into a physical fight, & she slammed me into a wall. I believe she wanted to kill me that night. I also believed that since I determined never to live in that house again, the abuse was a thing of the past. My mother never laid another hand on me again after that night, November 28, 1990. That didn’t mean she never abused me again, however.
After that horrible night, my mother continued to verbally abuse me. Everything about me was subject to her harsh judgement & criticisms, just as it had been when I was living with her. When I had to quit work a few months later due to my back pain from her assault, my mother made it clear she was convinced I was faking the pain because I was too lazy to work. She never said those words exactly, but she would slap me in the back where my pain was, hand me heavy items or tell me I needed to help her move something heavy.
As my parents got older & frailer, my mother expected me to help them. When I did help, my parents were cruel, especially my mother. She gave me a diet soda one day when I was there. The cruelty was the artificial sweetener in it was known to cause a laxative effect in some people. She waited until I emptied the bottle to tell me this & how it negatively affected my father. For the remainder of the visit, she & my father continually asked me how my stomach felt or did I need to use the bathroom.
My mother had irritable bowel syndrome. After having an issue, she called to tell me I had to wash her clothes the next day because “I owed it to her since she took care of me as a baby.” The next day I took rubber gloves along in case I had to touch any laundry since I’m not good with body functions. My mother watched me take off those gloves, then told me to hold out my hands. With a smile, she put her nasty clothes in my bare hands & said “I forgot, these need to go in the washer too.”
The point of these stories is this: narcissistic parents don’t stop abusing their children when they become adults. They merely change the ways in which they abuse them.
As narcissists age, they can’t be the physically intimidating presence to their child anymore. And, their child has grown up, so even if they were able to magically stay the same, their child probably wouldn’t be intimidated like they once were. Also, threats of punishment from a parent don’t work on an adult as they would on a child. Due to losing so many of their once successful ways of abusing their child, narcissists have to come up with new ways to abuse.
Some of those new ways may involve financial abuse, guilt trips to make their child think they owe the parent, misusing their medications to make themselves ill, or even threatening suicide.
If such things are happening to you, you’re not alone! You also have nothing to feel ashamed of! The shame lies with your parent, not you! Do what you need to in order to protect yourself. You do NOT deserve to be abused!!
When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they grow up dysfunctional in many ways. One of those ways is they learn no healthy coping skills. As a result, lying to themselves becomes a common way for them to cope.
Lying about what? Anything & everything! I remember years ago, I got my father a cell phone & my mother was angry about it. Eventually he was tired of her complaints & got rid of it. When she told me about it, she said she had no idea why he did that. I could see that she was trying to convince herself of that, but she knew the real reason. Remember, my mother’s mother was a narcissist, & extremely cruel to my mother her entire life, including neglecting her emotional health.
That is just one example, of course, but there are many other lies victims of childhood emotional neglect tell themselves.
Another lie is “I don’t matter.” Of course you matter! Everyone matters! The lie stems from being raised by parents who act like you don’t matter. It’s easier for a child to believe they don’t matter than to believe their parent is incapable of treating them as if they do matter. Any problem in a relationship between a child & his parents usually means the child assume he is to blame.
“I’m not good enough” is another lie stemming from childhood emotional neglect. When children are treated by their parents as if they aren’t good enough, they assume it’s because something is wrong with them rather than their parents. That, however is a big lie!
“I’m unworthy to ask for help.” Childhood emotional neglect teaches children that they are undeserving of “bothering” others by asking for help, especially from their parents. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Another common lie is, “I should be happy. I have no reason not to be happy.” When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they very easily can become depressed, yet may not know why, even into adulthood. They fail to realize they have been abused which is a valid reason for depression.
“I don’t need anything.” is a common lie, too. Of course you need something. Every person has needs. Sadly, being emotionally neglected in childhood trains children to believe that their wants & needs aren’t important, so they learn to ignore them. Years of ignoring them means they aren’t in touch with their needs at all.
Another common lie is, “I’m ok.” When someone is mistreated, it’s normal to be angry or hurt. When the child of emotional neglect is mistreated, although they may feel some anger or hurt, they’re disconnected from their feelings enough that they may not realize that. Or, they may recognize the anger & hurt, but believe they aren’t allowed to feel that way so they say, “I’m ok” instead.
“Anything you want is fine with me.” When a child survives emotional neglect, they learn early on it’s easiest just to go with what their parents want so they don’t get in trouble. After a lifetime of this, it becomes such a habit, that these children act this way with everyone about everything.
If you realize you have said these same lies, you are not alone! Start paying attention to what you say more so you become aware of ways you lie to yourself. Ask God to help you to help you recognize those lies. Once you recognize the ways you’re lying to yourself, then you can deal with them. My favorite way is to ask God to tell me the truth. Am I right to feel as I do? Please tell me the truth, Your truth. He does & it really helps me to see things more clearly. Writing about how & why I feel as I do is also helpful because seeing things in writing gives great clarity.
I wish you the best in defeating these lies & living a healthier, happier life! xoxo
Children who are abused by their parents without fail show signs of that abuse in their adult years. This post addresses some of those signs.
Abused children grow up believing they have no control over what happens in their lives. This is because abused children are not taught that they have the right to have boundaries or even to say “no.” That faulty thinking often carries into adulthood when the abused child finally realizes that he or she has as much right to have boundaries as any other person.
Abused children also grow up into a false person of who they really are. Children want their parents’ love & approval. It’s only natural to feel this ingrained need so strongly. With healthy & functional parents, it’s a good thing. With abusive parents however, it’s not so good. In fact, a child can be so starved for their parents’ love & approval, they learn to live in whatever way they believe is pleasing to their parent(s). A child whose parents tell her she needs to be a nurse when she grows up may become one, all the while hating her line of work because she really wanted to be a teacher, or vice versa. Sadly, this can continue until that child gets to know the person that God created him or her to be & discards that false self.
Abused children grow up not in touch with their emotions. Abused children are often told that their emotions are unacceptable. Usually the only acceptable emotions in a home with abusive parents are the emotions of the abusive parents. They criticize their children for having a bad temper when they are righteously upset at being abused. They call their children oversensitive & mock them for their emotions. These children learn quickly the best way to deal with their emotions is not to deal with them, so they push them deep inside so they don’t have to feel anything. While this is a useful survival skill with abusive parents, it doesn’t serve anyone well long term. This child needs to learn to trust his or her emotions, to recognize them & find ways to cope with them in healthy ways.
Abused children often become people pleasers. Children whose parents abuse them learn quickly the best ways to avoid abuse is to please their parents. If they can just be good enough, smart enough, talented enough or pretty enough, their parents won’t hurt them anymore & will love them, they believe. Sadly this mentality carries into adulthood, & that abused child is an adult who worries about pleasing other people at any personal cost. This adult is angry, bitter & miserable, yet feels unable to make any changes. Realizing what is happening is the first step. Once that has happened, learning about boundaries & developing healthy self esteem will help tremendously.
Abused children learn not to trust their instincts. Narcissistic parents love to gaslight their children. Gaslighting in its simplest definition is when someone distorts another person’s reality in such a way that the victim learns quickly not to trust their own instincts or perceptions, often even their own sanity. Children whose parents gaslight them grow up with instincts like every other person, but they lack the ability to trust those instincts. As a result, they frequently end up in situations that are bad for them or abusive relationships. Even if they felt somehow that something was bad for them, they ignored it since they don’t feel they can trust themselves to know what is best. Learning to trust your instincts after a lifetime of gaslighting is NOT a fast process, but it is possible. Listen to your instincts, & observe what happens. Chances are, you’ll see those instincts were right time after time. The more it happens, the more you learn you can trust your instincts.
Years ago, prior to learning about narcissism, I had a friend who counseled people at her church. She told me how she believed many people were stuck emotionally at the age they were when they experienced deep trauma. This makes a great deal of sense to me, especially knowing what I do now about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Looking at some of the narcissists I’ve known in my life, they were abused, neglected or both in their childhood, or faced something very traumatic such as a life threatening injury. My father, for example, nearly died at only fifteen from a traumatic brain injury, thanks to some drunk driver hitting his car head on. Although he was a mature adult in ways such as keeping a full time job, maintaining & repairing his own car & home, in some ways, his behavior was very immature. He seemed to think he should have whatever he wanted, just because he wanted it. That is entitlement but it’s also a very immature behavior.
My late mother in-law grew up in an extremely dysfunctional environment. At 15, she got pregnant & married my father in-law. By all accounts, their marriage was not a happy one for many years. Her behavior was quite immature, & often reminded me of a teenager. Like my father, she seemed to think she should have what she wanted simply because she wanted it.
Obviously, not everyone who has experienced trauma, abuse or neglect in their childhood is like this. However it seems to me that many narcissists are. So many act very immature, & if you look at their lives, many also had some sort of trauma in their childhood.
I’m not telling you this to excuse the abusive behavior of narcissists, of course. There is no valid excuse for abuse! However, understanding them can help you a great deal. It can help you not to be as hurt or angered by their abuse because you see it’s something wrong with them. (This information is always a good reminder since they love gaslighting so much.) It enables you to predict their behavior so you can protect yourself. It also can help you to remember that basically, you’re dealing with a bratty child in an adult’s body & deal with them accordingly.
As children, we’re supposed to figure out what we want to do when we grow up & plan for it accordingly by the time we graduate high school. Many plans change but at least most kids have an idea of what they want to do with their lives.
I didn’t. I never could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married or not, but I assumed I wouldn’t because my mother told me no man would ever want me. I’ve kind of fallen into things rather than having a plan to get there my entire life.
I’ve thought this was strange since it seemed to me everyone else I knew growing up had some goals. They knew if they wanted to get married, have kids, travel the world, go to college, & what kind of career they wanted.
Recently I realized something. I believe this is because when you grow up with a narcissistic parent (or two), you learn early on that you’re wrong about anything & everything. What you think, feel, like, don’t like, want, believe, etc. is all wrong. So, if you believe you’re wrong, how can you set any goals? The goals will automatically be stupid, bad, wrong, etc. because you set them. Why bother even trying to set goals that are going to be so bad? It’s a waste of time.
Plus, many of us with narcissistic parents were told by that parent that they knew us better than we knew ourselves. Believing this lie would also inhibit us from making goals because obviously we are too stupid to know what we should do & what we want to do.
Even realizing this, I still have trouble setting goals but am improving a bit at it. I have learned I’m not the stupid, ugly, fat, horrible, useless person my mother told me I was growing up. I have also learned she has absolutely no clue who I am, so saying she knows me better than I know myself was an absolute lie. I know me much better than she ever has & ever will. Learning these things have helped me some in this area as well as healing my virtually destroyed self-esteem. Realizing these truths about yourself can help you too. Talk to supportive, loving & safe people. Write in a journal. Those things will help you to discover the real you, the good person that you are as well as what you want to do with your life. They also will help you to see that maybe what your narcissistic parent said you wanted, liked or didn’t like was absolutely wrong, & enable you to figure out what makes you truly happy.
Dear Reader, if you have this same problem with setting goals, know you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy or stupid for not being able to do so. It is simply one more side effect of growing up with a narcissistic parent. Focus on healing your wounded self-esteem, & I believe goals will become more natural & easy to set in time. Ask God for help, too- He will not let you down!
Most people assume there is only one type of grief, the grief that happens when someone you love dies, but there are other types as well.
People also can grieve when they move, get a divorce or lose a job. There is also something known as anticipatory grief, which happens when you know someone is dying. This is especially common in families where someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s due to how this terrible disease destroys a person’s personality before it destroys their body.
Unconventional grief is different. It is grief that is triggered by unique circumstances. I experienced it when learning about the many new limitations because of how damaged my brain was after surviving Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It also can happen when someone is diagnosed with mental illness or when a loved one has a substance abuse problem. Unconventional grief also can happen as a result of trauma & abuse.
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or two, & you finally learn about narcissism, although it is a great thing, it can trigger grief. Suddenly you realize that you aren’t the problem, which is certainly good news of course, but realizing what your parent was is difficult & painful to accept. It hurts that the one person who was supposed to love you unconditionally didn’t, & lacks the ability to do so. You also realize how much your parent took from you, such as your childhood & self-esteem. And, it suddenly hits you that there is no hope for your relationship. Prior to learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, most people have some hope that one day their parent will realize what she did, apologize & change for the better. Learning about NPD squelches that hope completely. That is a tough pill to swallow!
Facing these ugly truths absolutely can cause a person to grieve, & it’s extremely painful. It’s also difficult to understand because of the limited view of grief that most people have. How can you grieve when the person in question is still alive?! Well, it’s surprisingly easy to do actually.
When my father died in October, 2017, I didn’t cry. I cry easily especially when losing someone I love, but I didn’t cry. I barely have felt sad at all since he’s been gone. No doubt any of my family that may be reading this thinks it’s because I’m a cold, evil person, but that isn’t the case. It’s because I grieved him enough when he was alive that his death didn’t have a very profound effect on me. And you know something? Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with have said that they felt the same exact thing when their parent died.
Unconventional grief can be incredibly difficult, but you can get through it.
Pray & pray often. You will need the wisdom, guidance & comfort of God to get through this.
Don’t judge your emotions. Accept them. Examine them without judgement or criticism. Feel them. Pray, talk or write about them to cope with them.
Anger is an especially common part of this sort of grief. If you feel a lot of anger, it’s normal! I know, you probably grew up like most of us with narcissistic parents did, believing you aren’t allowed to be angry. Stop that now! Why are you angry? Face it head on & deal with your feelings. The pain will lose its power over you if you face it.
You also may start to remember only the good times. They are good to remember, but don’t forget the bad as well. Embrace the good & heal from the bad.
Write in a journal. Writing is very cathartic, plus it will help you to have documentation. You may even decide that you enjoy writing, & opt to start a blog or write a book.
Find online support groups & websites. Learning that others are experiencing similar things to you is very helpful.
Don’t expect this grief to end entirely. It will get better, but it may never end entirely. It’s like losing a loved one- you grieve most right after the person died, but even many years later, the pain is still there, just not as intense as it was at first.
If you’re experiencing unconventional grief, Dear Reader, know you aren’t alone. You can survive this! It will take hard work & won’t be easy, but you can do it!
Growing up with a narcissistic mother is incredibly painful. It causes a great deal of damage too, not only to one’s mental health but sometimes physical as well due to the intense, incredible stress of living with such a cruel person.
Unfortunately, the damage done is still with the child moving out of his or her mother’s home. While some of that damage is obvious, such as a person having C-PTSD, not all of it is so easily identified. There are many behaviors that tend to stick with a person even years after the abuse has ended.
Many victims accept the blame for everything. Growing up with a narcissist, you learn early in life that everything is your fault. If you had any doubts about that, your narcissistic mother would remind you of it. By adulthood, victims have lost all doubts & know everything is their fault.
Closely related is apologizing for everything. Children aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves, especially to their narcissistic mother. In fact, we don’t even have any clue how to stand up for ourselves. Instead, we learn to apologize, whether the problem is our fault or not. This behavior carries over into adulthood.
Narcissistic parents often compare their children unfavorably to their siblings or cousins. Those children grow up comparing themselves unfavorably to others just as their parent did rather than appreciating the differences in each person.
Children of narcissistic parents learned early in life that their purpose was to do for their parent. Children aren’t even thought of as human to their narcissistic parents, but instead they are merely tools to be used as needed by that parent. Knowing this means these children believe they aren’t important. They prioritize everyone else over themselves.
Along these lines, children of narcissistic parents also refuse to ask for help. They believe they are unworthy of help from anyone. Many are also perfectionists & think they should be able to do things by themselves, without any assistance.
Chronic self doubt is another problem narcissistic mothers create in their children. When you grow up hearing how you can’t do anything right, you’re a failure, you’re stupid or other cruel things, self doubt is normal. It can make you doubt every single thing about yourself, even into adulthood. Often it’s like there is a recording in the back of your mind when you try to do something that says those same awful things Mom used to say, & when you hear the recording, it transports you back to childhood, when you felt you were all of those things Mom said you were.
Difficulty making decisions happens often with adult children of narcissistic parents, too. When you suffer with self doubt, decisions can be really difficult to make! Even simple decisions like when your spouse asks where you want to go for dinner can be very challenging, because you feel like whatever you say will be wrong.
Over thinking is another common sign of having grown up with a narcissistic mother. It stems from having to be “on alert” at all times, needing to know what Mom wanted or how to please her or what exactly she needed at any time in order to avoid a narcissistic rage.
The lack of ability to express emotions is common with adult children of narcissistic mothers. So many narcissistic mothers did their best to stop their child from expressing any emotions, negative or positive. My mother used to scold me for having “that Bailey temper” that I learned never to show any anger or even simple frustration. It felt easier to stuff that emotion deep down than to be shamed. My mother also complained that I didn’t look happy, yet if I was happy, if it had nothing to do with her, she would shame me for being happy. Many narcissistic mothers behave in a similar way with their children.
Do you behave in any of these ways, Dear Reader? If so, please know you are NOT alone & you are NOT crazy. I’ve experienced them all, & still do experience some of them. I have found that praying really helps a great deal. I ask God for help or to show me what I can do to change my behavior. Simple? Sure, but also very effective.
I also question things. “Am I really to blame for this? Why?” “Should I apologize for that? Why or why not?” “Why am I comparing myself to that person instead of appreciating our uniqueness?” “Am I really not smart enough/talented enough/etc. to do that? What evidence do I have that shows me I’m not?” “Is it really unreasonable of me to ask my husband for help when I don’t feel good? Why?” These simple questions make me think about the situation at hand more objectively & I can see that sometimes what I’m thinking is nothing more than some old, dysfunctional mindset. Upon seeing that, I am able to act in a more appropriate way. If you have trouble doing this, another approach could be to imagine a friend came to you with the problem you’re facing now. What would you tell that friend? Imagining a friend is confiding in you rather than thinking about yourself facing the problem can give you a very different perspective.
Although these issues are challenging, they can be dealt with with time & work. Do it- you deserve to be rid of these dysfunctional habits!
Most people who were abused as children face lifelong problems as a result of that abuse. The problems can be debilitating at worst, or they can at best be really annoying, but they are there nonetheless. This post is about some of those problems.
Many people who experienced abuse in their childhood develop PTSD or C-PTSD. It makes a lot of sense this happens considering that abused children are exposed to at least a couple of life altering traumas in their life, usually many more. In case you don’t know this, PTSD & C-PTSD happen when trauma is severe enough to “break” the brain. Physical changes actually happen in the brain that cause PTSD & C-PTSD. Neither are mood disorders or the result of thinking negatively like many people seem to think. Medication &/or therapy can help you to manage the life disrupting symptoms.
Even if an adult survivor of child abuse doesn’t develop PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are good that person will suffer anxiety &/or panic attacks &/or fears, even phobias. When you’re raised by someone whose behavior is violent & unpredictable, you naturally become anxious. That anxiety can stay even long after the abuse has ended. Ending the relationship with an abusive parent is naturally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean all problems are solved. While it removes further abuse from happening, it doesn’t stop the anxiety that the abuse created. It takes a lot of time for that to diminish. It may never stop entirely. Learning ways to calm yourself such as through deep breathing can help calm you when anxiety gets bad. Prayer is also very helpful. Medication can help as well. Also, learn to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Take tiny steps at first, then once you’re comfortable with the small steps, push yourself a bit further. It’ll help you to be more confident in yourself & less anxious when you see what you can handle.
Lacking good coping skills is common as well. When you’re subjected to daily abuse, you simply don’t have time to process one trauma when another happens. It’s overwhelming! It also leads to a pattern of not knowing how to cope because you haven’t been able to do so. You will need to learn coping skills, such as how to slow down & look at the situation objectively so you can find ways to cope.
Many adult survivors of child abuse also are willing to settle. They don’t want to be in the same or a similar situation to what they’ve been through, so rather than take a risk, they settle. Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can be scary, but it needs to be done. Start with small things. As you get more comfortable, push yourself to do bigger things.
Talk to people you feel safe with, & let them help you as you heal. It can be super easy to become a total recluse, because it feels like no one else has been through the things you have. As you open up to safe people, you may realize that others have been through similar situations. Sharing these experiences can help you to become closer & also to help each other heal.
Many victims also hold in their anger. As a child of an abusive parent, it’s a useful survival skill. Abusive parents can’t & won’t deal with their child’s anger, so it’s safer for the child to hold it in. As an adult though, it’s no longer a good skill. Instead it becomes unhealthy both physically & mentally. You have to learn how to release your anger in healthy ways, such as in prayer, writing in a journal or talking things out with a safe person.
Almost all victims of child abuse avoid confrontation as adults. Growing up with abusive parents, we learned early in life that confrontation involves rage, name calling, possibly even physical violence. The truth though is that isn’t always the case anymore! Not everyone is like our parents. You need to learn that it’s ok, even loving (believe it or not) to confront someone who is mistreating you.
Adult victims of abusive parents also have issues with boundaries. Abusive parents don’t let their children have boundaries, & perhaps out of simple habit, those children grow into adults with no boundaries. You will need to realize that you have every right to have & enforce healthy boundaries, as well as learn ways to develop those boundaries. I highly recommend reading “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr.s Henry Cloud & John Townsend. The book changed my life! I even created a free online class based on the book. It’s available at my website at this link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Boundaries-Book-Study.php
Lastly, most adults abused as children also end up in unhealthy relationships. They replay the abuse they experienced as children in friendships & romantic relationships because it’s familiar. While this is normal, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You need to recognize unhealthy people & avoid them as much as you can. You can do this by learning about people like your abusive parent. For example, if your parent is a narcissist, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so you can recognize the signs easily.
Surviving consequences of abuse is never easy, but it can be managed. You can & learn to enjoy your life & thrive in spite of your traumatic experiences.
My maternal grandmother was a narcissist. She neglected & abused my mother until she died. However, my grandmother didn’t limit her abuse to only my mother. She continued it with the next generation.
This scenario is very typical. I’m sure it happens with male narcissists too, but it seems to be more common with female ones, so we will discuss female narcissists in this post.
Rather than narcissistic mothers becoming loving grandmothers, they simply become narcissistic grandmothers. Sadly, many children of narcissistic mothers think the abuse they endured won’t happen to their children, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Many people say that narcissists never change, but I disagree. The methods they use to abuse change & they often get even more vicious with their manipulation & criticisms. If they have grandchildren, they are simply new targets for their abuse rather than happy additions to the family.
Narcissistic grandmothers have zero trouble criticizing their children to their grandchildren. This not only can affect how your child sees you, but it also can affect your relationship with your child negatively & hurt your child. When I was quite young, my grandmother would tell me how lazy my mother was as a child & what a terrible person she was. It really hurt to hear her say those things, but she wouldn’t stop.
Not only will narcissistic grandmothers criticize their children to their grandchildren, but they also will criticize their children in front of their grandchildren. This hurts both the parent & child, & teaches the child that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat Mom &/or Dad like dirt. After all, Grannie Dearest does it, so it must be ok.
Since narcissists believe they always know best & boundaries aren’t for them, a narcissistic mother will run roughshod over her child’s rules with her grandchildren. If you don’t want your child to have a cookie nearer than an hour before dinner, you can guarantee that Grannie Dearest will give your child 18 cookies 10 minutes before dinner if she has the chance! As if this isn’t frustrating enough in & of itself to have your own mother break your rules, this also teaches your child that it’s ok to disobey Mom & her rules mean nothing.
Much of the dysfunction you grew up with at the hand of your narcissistic mother will continue with your children. If you had siblings, & all of you have children, your children will be treated much like you & your siblings were growing up. There will be a golden child & a scapegoat, & whichever you were, you can count on your child being in that role. In my mother’s family, her sister was the golden child & she was the scapegoat. While my grandmother was abusive to all of her grandchildren to some degree, I believe she saved the worst of her abuse for me.
If you have children & a narcissistic grandmother, it is your job as their parent to protect the children. Obviously, you don’t want her hurting your children like she’s hurt you! I believe the best place to start protecting them is to pray. Ask God for wisdom on how to handle the situation & how to best protect your children.
Also limit your children’s contact with your narcissistic mother as well as yours. The less contact anyone has with a narcissist, the better. Limited contact may evolve into no contact at some point. The less time spent around a narcissist, the clearer your thinking becomes concerning that person. You may realize no contact is best for you & your children when you hadn’t considered it an option before.
Make sure your children know that they can talk to you about anything & you won’t get mad. Help them to feel safe knowing that if Grannie Dearest says or does something that upsets them, they can tell you about it, you won’t be upset with them, & you will handle the situation.
Do not leave your children alone with their narcissistic grandmother. Make sure that you or your spouse or both of you are with them at all times in her presence. Not only will this help your children feel safer, chances are good that your narcissistic mother will behave better. Narcissists don’t like witnesses to their abuse, after all.
If you’re in this situation, I believe these tips can help you & your children. I wish you the absolute best! xoxo
Have you ever wondered why people so incredibly self centered as narcissists have children? I have. God showed me a couple of reasons why my parents had me, but I’ve also wondered about narcissists in general, not only my parents, have kids. I think I have figured out some of their “logic”, if you can call it that.
The narcissist who was abused or neglected as a child often has a root of shame, I believe, which is why they work so hard to convince people they are so wonderful, amazing, etc. They’re also trying to convince themselves that they are so wonderful, amazing, etc. By becoming a parent, this proves to themselves & everyone else that someone found them desirable. Someone took this big step with them, so they must be pretty fantastic, right?!
If the narcissist grew up feeling or being told she was abnormal somehow, having a child can be a way to prove to the world that she is normal. Having children is a perfectly normal step for many people, so if she can have a child, it proves to her & other people that she must be normal.
Children are also made to make their narcissistic parent look good, & we know all narcissists are obsessed with appearances. If the narcissistic parent can mold their child into whatever she wants the child to be, that parent can then take credit for the child’s talents, successes, good looks or anything. And, if this child is perfect, he or she will prove to the narcissistic parent that her abusive parents were wrong about her, that she really isn’t bad or unlovable as her parents told her she was.
This “perfect” child also can gain the narcissistic parent attention for being such a wonderful parent as to raise this perfect little human being. People notice exceptional children, so as long as this child is perfect, the narcissistic parent will lap up all of the praise & admiration she receives for her amazing parenting skills. What the narcissistic parent fails to realize is that no child is perfect, & expecting the child to be is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the child. Trying to meet impossibly high standards creates a great amount of anxiety in anyone, but especially a child who just wants his or her parent’s love.
Often, if two narcissists have children together, one will take the main role in raising the child. That parent gets to enjoy being in control in this capacity as well as looking self-sacrificing & martyr like by doing everything all by herself with virtually no help from the other parent.
Because children need their parents, this also feeds the narcissistic parent’s narcissism. They rely on their child’s dependency because it makes them feel valuable & good to be needed. They don’t take into consideration that at some point, that child is going to grow up & move on. It’s as if that thought isn’t even a possibility to the narcissistic parent, so when that happens, they feel betrayed by their child. How dare that child do something normal by growing up! Doesn’t the child know that their role is to stay a child as long as the parent wants?!
Some parents also have children because they foolishly believe that will repair their relationship or force the partner to stay with them so they can raise the child together. They mistakenly believe that if they have a child together, their partner will start treating them right or love them more, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Along those lines, the narcissist who was abused as a child may think that having a baby will fix her relationship with her abusive parents. She may think no grandparent couldn’t love their grandchild, so if she gives her parents a grandchild, she finally may have her parents’ love.
There are countless reasons people want to start a family, but when it comes to narcissists, you can be sure all of their reasons will be unhealthy. They will be entirely self-serving to the narcissist, & the child will suffer because of it.
Being raised by a narcissistic parent or two causes a person to act differently than people raised by healthy, functional parents. Aside from the most obvious common problem, C-PTSD, being raised by narcissists creates certain unique behaviors that almost every victim exhibits. This post addresses those behaviors.
Being afraid to say no. Narcissists don’t allow their children to have boundaries. “No” can be met with abuse- name calling, scathing criticisms, guilt trips & even physical violence. Children use “yes” as a survival skill as a result. They learn early in life that it’s easier to do whatever their narcissistic parent wants than to say “no” & face the consequences. This behavior becomes such a habit that it is often carried into adulthood. While it served a good purpose as a child, it no longer does as an adult. Being a healthy adult means having healthy boundaries. You need to start asking yourself why are you saying yes? Are you saying yes because you want to or because you’re afraid of disappointing someone if you say no? Start saying no when you’re saying yes when you don’t want to. Some people won’t like it, but one thing to keep in mind- healthy, good, caring people respect boundaries. Users & abusers don’t. If someone gets upset with you for having a healthy boundary, that isn’t the kind of person you need in your life.
Apologizing too much. Narcissistic parents blame their children for every single thing, so their children learn to apologize for everything, whether or not it’s their fault. This dysfunctional survival skill also carries into adulthood, & needs to stop. When you feel the urge to apologize, pray. Ask God is this truly your fault? Should you apologize or are you only doing so out of habit?
Being unable to express emotions in a healthy way. Narcissists can’t handle the emotions of other people, including their children. They force their children to stifle their emotions, often by shaming them for having them. This tells children their emotions are bad. To cope, may continue to repress their emotions while others express them in inappropriate ways such as getting angrier than is appropriate for the situation. It can be hard, I know, but you need to learn to get in touch with your emotions & give them a healthy outlet. Ask God to help you to do this, because it will get scary, especially showing anger after a lifetime of stifling it. Journaling can be helpful, too- seeing things in writing brings clarity.
Not trusting your intuition & perception. Constant gaslighting is possibly the most cruel form of abuse there is, & also a favorite of narcissists. Gaslighting makes a person second guess everything about themselves- their instincts, perception, feelings, thoughts- because it makes a victim feel that they are wrong about everything or even crazy. The fact is though that you aren’t wrong or crazy- you are FINE! The gaslighting made you doubt these things but it doesn’t mean that they are actually wrong or flawed somehow. Your instincts, perceptions, feelings & thoughts are just fine. They are trustworthy! Ask God to help you to learn to trust yourself. Pay attention, too. You’ll see that the more you you’re right about little things, the more you learn to trust yourself.
Over explaining yourself. Narcissistic parents demand their children behave in certain ways that are acceptable to them, no matter how their child feels about it. When the child fails to meet the impossibly high expectations, the parent demands an explanation for the failure. One more dysfunctional survival skill children of narcissists learn is to explain anything & everything, & again, this often continues into adulthood. It feels strange at first to stop over explaining yourself, but if you stick with it, it gets more comfortable as time goes on. Always remember, not everyone needs an explanation for what you do.
These behaviors, although dysfunctional, don’t have to be permanent. With prayer & work, you can make healthy changes.
I admit it.. I have another big pet peeve: people who label those of us without children as selfish. After seeing a post on Facebook a little while ago that labeled someone else without children as selfish, I thought I would write a blog post about it.
Many people quickly judge people without children. I’ve been called selfish, immature, told “the reason you don’t want kids is because of your mother” & also told I’d regret not having children one day. None of that is even close to the truth, as is so often the case with those without children.
Some things to consider before judging are…
- Maybe a person doesn’t have children because either she or her mate are infertile. Infertility is an extremely painful thing for couples to experience. It’s especially cruel to judge & criticize these people for not having children! You’re plunging a knife into their hearts when you do that!
- Some people don’t have children because they grew up in a dysfunctional environment & realize they don’t know how to be good parents. If you grew up in an abusive or at least dysfunctional home, it’s hard to know how to be a good parent! How is it selfish for someone who doesn’t know what it takes to be a good parent not to have children?
- Some people always have felt more comfortable in the company of adults. That is also me. I preferred the company of adults, even as a child. There are a surprising number of people like me.
- Not everyone can relate to children. Some people who may not have spent a lot of time around children when they were growing up or were the youngest in their families may not be able to relate well to children due to not a great deal of experience around them.
- Not wanting children doesn’t mean a person hates them. A common belief for those of us without children is that we hate kids. Sadly, some folks do feel that way. That isn’t always the case though. Personally, I don’t hate kids. I just can’t understand them well. Big difference between that & hating kids.
- And, people who don’t want kids aren’t selfish! We have given this serious consideration before coming to the decision not to have kids. Another common misconception of childless folks is we’re just selfish jerks. Nope. We have given the topic of children a LOT of thought! I even tried talking myself into wanting kids several times in my life, but it never felt right even as I said I wanted kids or dated men who wanted them.
If you speak with someone who doesn’t have children, please consider the things I’ve said & don’t judge or criticize them. Everyone has different callings on their life. Not every person feels called to be a parent.
If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you know about nightmares. You have them so often, they aren’t a surprise. They’re just a way of life. Yet, little is mentioned about the nightmares.
I’d always had frequent nightmares, but it got much worse in 2012 which is when I realized I had C-PTSD. I began having several almost every night, which of course led to a lot of fatigue. The nightmares also became even more vivid than usual, which is saying something since I’ve always had very vivid dreams. They became so vivid in fact, that often I would wake up feeling as if I’d just done whatever I did in the dream. If I dreamed I ran a marathon, for example, I woke up physically tired & achy.
After learning about C-PTSD, I assumed the nightmares would be about reliving traumatic events, which does happen, but only rarely. Most of my nightmares are about strange things- being an adult yet having to repeat high school & relying on my mother to take me rather than driving my own car; while repeating high school as an adult, being unable to find or remember the combination to my locker; my car being stolen &/or totaled; my husband mocking me when I was obviously upset or rejecting me somehow; or someone letting my cats outside & they ran away. Strange stuff! I finally asked God about it after waking up for yet one more bizarre nightmare. What He shared made a lot of sense & I think it will if you too suffer with odd nightmares like I do.
The brain constantly processes information, whether the information is good, bad or indifferent. Our dreams are often a result of that processing, because the brain doesn’t take breaks. Sometimes we don’t remember dreams because they weren’t important- the brain simply processed something unimportant. Other times, it tries to make sense of horrible things that have happened, which is where nightmares come into it. Sometimes the brain relives those awful, traumatic events in an attempt to understand it, but not always. Sometimes nightmares look as if they have nothing to do with traumatic events on the surface, yet they actually have a lot to do with them.
While the circumstances of the dreams may be different, the emotions they stir up feel exactly like some trauma you have experienced. My nightmare of my car being stolen & totaled? It caused a huge amount of anxiety & fear, & I felt completely helpless. Eventually I realized it triggered the exact same emotions of my seventeenth birthday. That day, my mother took my gifts from my then boyfriend/now ex husband & destroyed them on the way home from school. She blamed me for making her do that & making her car messy. The event caused me so much anxiety (knowing I’d have to tell my ex what happened to his gifts), fear (wondering what she was going to do next) & I felt helpless (she destroyed the gifts as I was picking up her Avon order & gone for maybe 3 minutes- I couldn’t have known what she was going to do or stop her from doing it)
When these nightmares happen, the good news is that they have a purpose. They show you that there is an area in which you need more healing. It can be hard to figure out, so I highly recommend asking God about it. He loves you & wants to help you, so let Him! Ask Him what did that dream mean? If you like, you also can look up symbols on a dream dictionary website- I’ve done this. I write down everything I can from my dream- items, colors, feelings- then look up what each means & write it down beside each item. Sometimes things make more sense to me when I see them in writing so that can be a helpful tool.
Once you realize what the dream was trying to make sense of, you can heal. Work on coping with the traumatic event however works for you- pray, talk to a therapist, talk to a close friend, write in your diary. What you do doesn’t matter, so long as it works for you.
I know nightmares are a very difficult part of C-PTSD & PTSD, but they are also unavoidable. Why not make them work in your favor by learning what they’re trying to help you cope with? Once you do, the nightmares often go away or at the very least don’t happen nearly as often. I haven’t had a dream about my car being stolen or totaled in a couple of years. 🙂
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.
Good morning, Dear Readers!
A few days ago, I finished a book for parents of children affected by narcissistic abuse. I believe it will help those of you in that painful position, including those of you co-parenting with a narcissist.
The book is available in both ebook & print format, as usual. The ebook version can be found here:
The print version can be found here:
Within a few weeks, both also can be found on amazon, Barnes & Nobel & other websites as well as my own site, www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
The book is shorter than my other books, but please don’t be discouraged by its size. I would rather print a small book full of good information than a much larger one filled with fluff. And, I’m sure readers prefer that as well.
Good news, Dear Readers!
I just wanted to let you know my current book, “You Are Not Alone!” is almost finished! I had finished the first edit, but kept adding to it.. well, one more edit & it’ll be DONE! Then I’ll create the ebook version, which won’t take long.
Daughters of dysfunctional & abusive mothers, I hope this new book will help you! 🙂
Happy Friday, Dear Readers!
I just wanted to wish you a great Friday & weekend, & also to let you know there is a new book for sale on my website. I can’t take the credit for this one- a good friend of mine wrote it. It’s a really cute children’s book called, “Izzy & the Tree with a Voice.” I hope you’ll check it out. 🙂