Tag Archives: childish

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.

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

Infantilizatation & Narcissistic Parents

Narcissistic parents are not like normal parents in so many ways.  One of those ways is they never want their children to grow up.  Why?  Because a child is much easier to control than a self sufficient adult.

So how is something like this possible?  Narcissistic parents make their children feel like they are forever the child, & the parent is forever the adult.  This is done primarily through emotional warfare, such as making the child feel shame, fear, manipulating the child & reminding that child who the “adult” is in this situation.  To show you what I mean, I’ll share some examples from my life.

I was a teenager in the 80’s.  My friends were wearing make up by the eighth grade,  & dating by the same time.   I however, was unable to wear even lipstick before ninth grade.  It took a great deal of begging on my part to be able to wear more makeup in ninth grade.  Also, although my mother had told me for years that I could date at 16, when I met my now ex husband just prior to turning 17, my mother went completely ballistic at the prospect of me dating.  In fact, she accused me of outrageous behaviors at that time, such as having sex with the entire high school football team & doing drugs.  Her abuse hit its peak at that time, all because I admitted to wanting to date & called her out on saying I could date at 16.  She refused to let me date until 1 week before my eighteenth birthday.

Another way my mother & many other narcissistic mothers keep their children childish is to control their appearance.  My mother has dressed much the same way my entire life, & she always has attempted to make me dress a lot like her.  I remember in late elementary school, sitting in a fitting room, fuming because my mother wanted me to like the hideous dark blue polyester pantsuit she insisted on buying for me.  It was absolutely her taste, not mine, & no matter how much I stated my hatred of it, she was determined to make me wear it.  As a teen in the 80’s, you would think I would have had mall bangs, pegged jeans & some of the other embarrassing fashion trends of the time, but nope.. instead, I dressed like a frumpy, middle aged housewife.  Even as an adult, my mother would buy me clothes in her taste, not mine.  One Christmas she got us matching shirts.

Age appropriate activities were also discouraged.  School dances were not approved of, although I was able to attend a couple as long as I didn’t have a date.  If my mother asked if I danced & I said yes, I was shamed for that.  I was also not allowed to get a driver’s license until I was 18, & my mother could no longer legally stop me.  She did, however, hide my birth certificate & showed it to the employee at the DMV while not allowing me to see it.

 

I moved out of my parents’ home just after I turned 19.  My mother was livid.  She told me I’d never make it on my own, I’d be back in six months & other nasty things.  I felt then like she took me moving out as a betrayal, not as a natural course of events.

 

Once out on my own, my mother immediately broke her key in the front door, claiming it wasn’t her fault.  My father ended up replacing all the door locks on the house.  I don’t think it was an accident- I firmly believe it was my mother’s way of making sure I didn’t come back into her house since I had forgotten to give her my key back after moving out.

 

Being on my own didn’t stop her infantilizing behavior either.  My mother constantly did little things to show me she disapproved of where I was living or how I maintained my home.  She would inspect a glass before drinking out of it, obviously making sure it was clean enough to drink from, tell me I didn’t vacuum frequently enough or insult the town where I live claiming only “snobs” live here.

 

Behaviors like this are not only painful for the child (no matter her age) to live with, they also create a deep seeded insecurity & anxiety in the child.  Prior to learning about infantilization, a child may grow up overly dependent on the parent doing the infantilization.  The child thinks that parent knows so much more & she can do nothing without that parent’s wisdom.  The child doesn’t trust herself.  When a parent treats a child as if “Mother/Father knows best” no matter the child’s age, it ruins the child’s ability to trust in her own intelligence or instincts.

 

Once an infantilized person realizes what has happened, reversing the damage takes a LONG time & a lot of work.  I was 16 when I began to see that the things my mother thought I should do/wear/like/drive/etc. & her opinions weren’t good for me- they were good for her.  I am now 47 & I still have doubts about myself more often than I care to admit.  Even so, the amount of time & energy I’ve put into shutting out her behavior has been worth it to learn to trust myself.

 

I wasn’t a Christian when I first began this journey, so honestly prayer wasn’t involved at first.  However, now when I have doubts, I run to God immediately.  I ask Him “Is this OK?”  “Should I do/not do that?” or any question I have.

 

I also have found it valuable to question everything.  When my mother would give me an article of clothing & say I should like it, I questioned myself- do I really like this?  Why?  If she told me I should or shouldn’t do something, I also questioned myself- What will happen if I do/don’t do this?  Will it benefit me?  Even now that my mother has been out of my life for two years, I still do this behavior if I have any doubts.

 

Getting to know yourself, your real self & not the self your parent(s) tried to make you into is also invaluable.  The better you know your true likes & dislikes, the less doubt you will have & the more you will trust your own decisions.  One way to get to know yourself is to learn your Myers Briggs personality.  I found it to be an indispensable tool in getting to know myself!  If you are interested in taking the test, you can find it at this link: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp  There is also a list that describes all of the types at this link.

 

You also have to learn to trust your instincts.  I believe they are the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us, which is why they are so wise.  Infantilization ruins one’s ability to trust one’s own instincts, unfortunately.  Try listening to those gut feelings on small stuff, then work up to bigger issues.  It really gets easier the more you do it.

 

As hard as it can be, you really can conquer the damage done by infantilization!

 

 

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