Narcissistic parents are notorious for not allowing their children to have any boundaries. They have no problem going through their children’s personal belongings or even breaking or getting rid of things their child uses or loves. Children are allowed no privacy, & some narcissistic parents go as far as removing their bedroom doors. Possibly the worst thing narcissistic parents do is refusing to allow their children to say “no”.
Narcissistic parents are too self centered to realize or even care that by not allowing their children to say no, they are teaching their children some pretty terrible lessons. When children learn that saying no is bad & not allowed, this teaches them that others can treat them however they wish. This opens the door for other wicked people to abuse these children. It also sets these children up for a life of misery because they don’t believe they have the right to say no to anyone, no matter what. They also believe that they have to say yes to everyone & everything, & that obviously is a huge problem!
Children need to feel safe knowing that there won’t be any repercussions if they say things like, “No”, “Stop doing that,” “Don’t touch me”, “That hurts”, “I don’t agree with you” & “I won’t do that.”
When a child doesn’t experience this ability to set reasonable boundaries, they can turn very submissive. Their boundaries become very blurred. They change their likes, dislikes, views, etc. depending on the company they keep. They lose their individuality. They do above & beyond what is reasonable for other people, even to the point of enabling terrible behavior. They tolerate way too much, including abusive behavior, because they don’t believe they have the right to do otherwise.
When a person grows up not allowed to say no, the fear of what could happen can become paralyzing, & they literally can’t say the word no. This fear happens because of many possible reasons. Some of those reasons might be the fear of hurting other people’s feelings, fear of someone’s anger, fear of being punished, fear of abandonment or the fear of being seen as selfish, bad or even ungodly. This fear also can happen because a person is too hard on themselves, & if they say no, they judge themselves very harshly. They condemn themselves as horrible people, so they don’t say no in order to avoid feeling that way.
If you recognize this as your behavior, you’re not alone. This is so common among children of narcissistic parents. The good news though is that you can make healthy changes.
I always recommend starting with prayer in any situation, & this one is no different. Asking God for help is never a mistake. Also ask Him to show you the truth about where you end & others begin, what you should & shouldn’t tolerate, how to start setting healthy boundaries & anything else you need help with.
Also start paying attention to how you feel. Does it bother you when someone expects something from you? Why does it bother you? If it feels unfair since they don’t ask others to do as much as you or they want you to do something they could do themselves, that is very reasonable!
Start small! Start by not answering your phone if you don’t want to talk to the person calling or something like that. The more you gain confidence in smaller boundaries, the more it will help you to go on to bigger ones.
Know people are going to be upset with you for your new boundaries. Rather than being hurt by this, think of it this way. Safe, good people will be happy for you & encourage you. Only toxic people are offended by reasonable boundaries. Seeing toxic people for who they are may be painful, but it’s also a good thing. It shows you who you need to remove from your life. And, removing them allows more time & energy for those who truly deserve that from you.
Having good boundaries won’t happen over night, but it will happen. Just stay with it! You can do this!