The holiday season is officially upon us, which means those of us with narcissistic parents &/or in-laws are filled with dread. We know the narcissists in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us every day of the year, but holidays often seem to up those expectations.
My late mother in-law would tell me when I was to be where on which holiday. She never said the exact words, but it was clear there was no excuse for me not to be there. The same with my ex mother in-law. Not obeying meant facing their anger. It also meant spending the day without my husband & being angry with him for choosing his family over me. Obeying meant spending the day surrounded by people who disliked me, & me resenting them. Since many others with narcissistic parents or in-laws face this same scenario, I thought I would share some thoughts on the holidays.
Remember, you are an adult. You do NOT have to blindly obey your parents or in-laws when they demand you spend a holiday with them. When you disobey their orders, chances are good they will be upset. They will try to guilt trip you for not wanting to spend time with “family”, or show their disapproval in some other way such as with criticisms or even the silent treatment (if you’re lucky…). Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have nothing to feel guilty about. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with those you love, such as good friends rather than abusive & mean people
Also, if you want to spend a holiday with someone other than your narcissistic parents or in-laws, you can offer a compromise. My paternal grandparents always had a big Christmas gathering on the weekend after Christmas. That way, everyone could spend the day with whoever they wished, yet there was still a family Christmas party. Why not do the same thing? Does it really matter what day the day is celebrated, so long as it is celebrated? Celebrating on a weekend also means many people don’t need to be at work the following day so they can relax more & enjoy themselves. Since narcissists do things more willingly when they can see it benefits themselves, why not approach it from this angle? “You won’t have to get up early the next day for work if we celebrate on Saturday instead of Tuesday. That means you can relax/enjoy the holiday/spend more time with your family & friends.” I know, many narcissists demand holidays be celebrated only on the exact day. My late & ex mothers in-law were that way. But if you approach your suggestion in a way that clearly benefits them, you stand a chance of getting your way. This isn’t a perfect solution since you’ll still be spending a holiday with narcissists, but it does at least free up the actual holiday to spend however you like. It’s a pretty reasonable compromise!
If celebrating a holiday on another day is not an option, set a time limit. Determine ahead of time you’ll only spend 2 hours with them, or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then leave at the end of that time. Tell the narcissist ahead of time that you only have a short window of time to spend with them, so you must leave by 2:00 or whenever. No, they won’t like it, but don’t back down! Stick to what you said, & leave at the set time.
If the demanding narcissist in question is an in-law & your spouse wants to spend the day with the narcissist, so be it. You can’t make him change his mind. You can, however, refuse to go. You can stay at home & watch Netflix all day. You can spend the holiday with friends instead. You can create a new holiday tradition to enjoy when your spouse isn’t with you. Trying to think of it as a day off to spend in any way you like definitely helps diminish & disappointment you feel.
Most of all, never forget to pray about your situation. God will show you the best way to handle it & help you to get through this difficult time of year. xoxo