My mother hated my ex husband from the moment she first saw him. She barely tolerated him after we got married… until he hit me. At that time, my mother saw me injured a couple of days after, with my ex’s hand prints still bruised on my wrists. She told my father she couldn’t imagine what I’d done to him to make him hurt me. Months later, I learned my parents saw my ex around town & were friendly with him. Around 18 years later, my mother called one day & said my father told her my ex hit me. She asked if this was true. I said yes. She told me how if she would’ve known, she would’ve contacted a lawyer & pursued it. I also realized during this conversation that seeing me battered meant nothing to my mother, & she forgot it happened.
Sadly, my story is not unique. Narcissistic parents often side with their child’s abuser. The facts don’t matter. According to narcissistic parents, the abuser is right & their child is wrong. This behavior can be one of the most painful & baffling of the many abusive behaviors of a narcissist.
I have some clues as to why narcissistic parents behave in this manner.
When someone upstages a narcissist in any way, it’s bad in the narcissist’s eyes. People pity another person covered in bruises or wearing a cast, which means there is less attention for the narcissist. To a narcissist, this means that person should be punished, & what better way to punish someone than to side with the person who hurt them?
If their child doesn’t have physical evidence of abuse, their parent doesn’t believe them. Narcissists lie & assume everyone else does. It’s projection. So unless their child has evidence of abuse, their parent won’t even believe they were abused.
Narcissists believe they are the only ones worthy of attention, so when another person, in particular their “lowly” child gets attention, they get angry. With narcissists, any attention is good attention. All they see is someone got attention that they didn’t get, & that makes that person bad.
Narcissists don’t want to accept that abuse is wrong, because then they would be wrong. Rather than face truth, it’s better in a narcissist’s mind to normalize abuse & make the victim bad.
If the abuser was the other parent, making the abuse ok means it was also ok that they didn’t protect their child. Remember, with narcissists, everything is about them. If they can spin your trauma around to how hard it was on them, denying knowing it happened, or denying it happened at all, it makes their lack of protecting their child acceptable.
The abuser is someone a narcissist admires & they’re afraid the victim will make them look bad. Narcissists care what people other than their victim think of them & certain people’s opinions they value above all else. If that person hurts their child, their primary concern is still how that person sees them. As an example, my mother believed my in-laws’ were a big happy family. When I told my parents my mother in-law was abusive, even siting examples, my mother didn’t believe me. Until our relationship ended, my mother asked my husband often how his mother was, sent his parents Christmas cards, then bragged to me about sending them cards.
Jealousy is another reason narcissistic parents side with abusers. In cases where a narcissist’s adult child is being stalked &/or harassed, most narcissists act like the abuser really must love their child rather than realizing the abuser has serious control issues. This makes them jealous.
Narcissistic parents are often lazy. Just because they have a child doesn’t mean they want to parent. They get angry if they have to care for their child, & take the focus off of them for any length of time.
Covert narcissistic parents like to rescue their child. Coverts gain narcissistic supply from appearing good & kind, so if they can wait until their child is terribly abused, then rescue him or her in some way, it’s supply to them.
Whatever the reasoning, remember when your narcissistic parent sides with someone who has hurt or abused you, it is just more evidence that your parent is the one with the problem, NOT you! Normal people don’t side with abusers over victims! xoxo