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Fixing Your Narcissistic Parents’ Problems- Not A Good Idea!

Boundaries are  a very necessary part of life.  Having them means you are free of the need to please others or take care of things that should be another person’s problem.  They are especially helpful for those of us raised by narcissistic parents since we grew up with very vague or even non-existent boundaries.

Even after you’ve learned about having healthy boundaries, & put what you learned into practice, sometimes it can be hard to maintain those boundaries though, especially with narcissistic parents.

I spoke to my mother yesterday.  She mentioned how she & my father rearranged the living room furniture.  Knowing her, this means she told him what to move & where to put it.  And, knowing him, this means he blindly obeyed her.  Normally, I figure if he’s willing to obey her & not stand up for himself, that’s his problem.  However, this time it bothers me.  He is now 77 years old, & had back surgery just before last Christmas.  he should NOT be doing things like this!!  But, this isn’t a first.  Part of the reason he needed the back surgery in the first place was lifting something very heavy he shouldn’t have been lifting, only because my mother wanted it moved.  Why they didn’t ask my husband or I for help, I don’t know…

Times like this can be very difficult for the adult child of narcissistic parents.  Old habits tend to want to kick in & you want to fix things or take care of the parent that is being pushed around.  However, this is NOT a good idea at all. Fixing things simply enables the dysfunction to go on while drawing you into the middle of it.  Chances are it will go on no matter what, so why put yourself in the situation?

I know it’s hard, but remember- it is that parent’s choice to do what he/she is told to do or not.  That parent is most likely trying to avoid a narcissistic rage by doing whatever they are doing.  While this is understandable to a degree, it’s still not good.  Yet, it’s still his/her decision to obey rather than take a chance on standing up to their narcissistic spouse & maybe ending the control.

It is NOT your place to rescue him/her!  Your parent is an adult, & needs to take care of his or herself, just like all adults do.  Everyone’s actions & choices are their own responsibility, & each person needs to reap the consequences of them, good or bad.  Do not allow your parent to draw you into the position of standing up for him/her to the other parent!

Often, the parent needing rescuing is a covert narcissist.  Does this parent portray him or herself as a martyr or at least as someone innocent in all of the problems in his/her relationships?  Does he/she come across very naive, innocent & in need of frequent rescuing?  Here is a link that explains some of the differences between over & covert narcissists:  Overt vs Covert Narcissists

Do you really want to get drawn into that dysfunction?  No, you don’t.  If you’re having trouble with not getting involved, remember how it has hurt you when you’ve been in this type of situation before.  Remember how hurt you were, how badly you were treated.  I’ve had to do this myself since I’ve been in the situation many times.  It’s a horrible position to be in.  It makes you feel used, angry, resentful & hurt at how quickly you’re discarded once the problem is solved.

Remember, you deserve better than to be treated as a “fixer.”  Most narcissistic families have a “fixer,” someone who is the one who is supposed to fix everything.  To the narcissists, the fixer is nothing more than a tool to be used, taken out when needed, then put back on the shelf.  Don’t you believe you deserved to be treated better than a hammer, screwdriver or flashlight?

This type of behavior is a part of emotional incest.  Emotional incest, covert incest or parentalizing are all terms used to describe the same abusive behavior.  When I child is put in a position of an equal or a partner to the parent, that is emotional incest.  Being expected to listen to a parent complain about a loveless marriage or sex life, talk to another person (usually the other parent) on the parent’s behalf or providing emotional support to the parent instead of the parent getting it from their partner, friend or family member are all examples of emotional incest.  While this may not sound so bad, its effects can truly be devastating to the child.  She grows up feeling overly responsible for other people, often becoming involved in co-dependent or abusive relationships.  She grows up very anxious, depressed & constantly feeling guilty.  You do NOT deserve to be abused like this!  Put a stop to it immediately!  Refuse to listen if one parent complains to you about the other or to get involved in their arguments.  Emotional incest is detrimental to your mental health, & you need to protect yourself from it!  You deserve that!

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

“You Need To Do Something!”

Why is it when people hear you say something about your abusive parents, they say that YOU need to fix it rather than saying something to your abusive parents? That never fails to amaze me.

Yet again recently, I heard another comment along these lines. It was only one of MANY I’ve heard over the years, & when I thought about that, it really ticked me off. Over the years, I have heard things like, “YOU need to make things better with your parents” or, “YOU need to get into counseling so YOU can figure out how to fix things with your parents!” more times than I can count. The truth is I have tried to make things better with my parents, & even got into counseling when I was seventeen to try to figure out how to make things better with them. I have done all the work while they have done nothing.

Time & time again, I have tried talking to my parents about how their behaviors hurt me, & they don’t make any changes. They don’t listen to me enough to hear what I have said, nor care enough to change anyway. Two examples popped into my mind- I told my father that it really hurt me badly to hear him complain about my mother & their bad marriage to me. He said, “Oh ok. I’m sorry. But-” then he went on to complain about her for another forty-five minutes (I timed it). Since, he has not stopped griping about his marriage problems to me every time we spoke, aside for a short two month period after his sister spoke to him on the topic. Suddenly, he was right back at it again, though. The other example is with my mother. She insults my cats when she sees them. This one is too fat, that one too affectionate, etc. I have told her over & over again to knock it off, yet she didn’t. One day on the phone, she asked if she ever offended me with something she’s said about the cats. *sigh* I told her yes & reminded her that I’d told her to stop it. She was shocked- she claimed she had no idea I was upset, let alone said anything to her.

So please tell me – why I am the one who should do all the work on a relationship with these people?

All relationships are a two way street, whether they are friendships, romantic relationships or a parent & child relationship. Any relationship that is one sided is not healthy! Even healthy relationships may be a bit one sided sometimes, but when that is the norm? It needs to stop, otherwise anger, bitterness & resentment build up in the one who does all of the giving. That person also can lose self-esteem, because she may learn she is simply around to be used.

Don’t take those guilt trips when people tell you that you need to fix things with your abusive parent(s). I don’t, & I don’t believe I am being a bad person for it! You have every right to expect to be treated with civility & simple respect & courtesy, just like every other person. Doing all of the work in a relationship, even with a parent, is NOT civil, respectful or courteous to either person involved.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health