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