How to Protect Your Child from a Narcissist Relative?
Thank you Daniela McVicker for the great article!
Any parent will tell you that keeping an eye on your child 24/7 is a difficult task. Most importantly, this type of observatory upbringing may or may not have adverse effects on the child’s psyche going forward. However, children are prone to a plethora of outside influencers which can severely dampen their growth, development and subsequent mental health as a result – one of which is narcissism.
According to Psych Central, out of approximately 326 million US citizens, 6% are affected by some form of narcissistic behavior, effectively affecting over 158 million others with their behavioral tendencies, intentionally or not. Whether deliberate or not, this type of psychological influence is something your child should be shielded from as effectively as possible for their safety and stability. With that in mind, let’s take a look at several factors to consider when confronting a narcissist relative, be it your spouse, a second child or an outside relative which you only come in contact on occasion.
Signs of Narcissistic Behavior
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room for those who are uninitiated. Narcissism is an (unfortunately) widely known form of psychological disorder. It revolves around self-centered behavior which promotes grandiose thoughts from the person suffering from narcissism which are projected on those around them.
This type of behavior is often accompanied by belittling expressions aimed at the listener which can lead to further mental health issues such as depression and suicidal tendencies (in extreme cases). Some of the signs of narcissistic behavior you should keep an eye out for when introducing and facilitating your child’s interaction with relatives and outsiders include:
- A personal sense of entitlement and grandeur
- Constant requirement of praise and admiration
- Social statements that are not supported by well-known facts
- Bullying, intimidating and/or hurtful comments about the listener
Protecting Your Child from a Narcissist Relative
One of the downsides of protecting your children from emotional abuse coming from relatives is the fact that in most cases, you won’t be able to indefinitely shield your child. The relative in question may be your own parent, next of kin or a close relative which may frequently come in contact with you and your family.
In this regard, preventative measures, confrontation, and resolution should be thought about and planned as soon as possible. Most importantly, your child should never be held accountable or feel guilt or remorse about the incident. Make sure that you communicate that fact to your child and assess whether or not further professional help is necessary to amend for any emotional trauma which may have taken place.
Apart from that, some of the steps you can take to circumvent and eliminate potential or further narcissistic influences on your child include the following:
- Limit and Facilitate the Interaction
As we’ve mentioned previously, relatives can be difficult to dodge or eliminate entirely from your life depending on your connection. As that is the case, you can resort to facilitation and limitation of your child’s interactivity with the person you suspect to be a narcissist. Make sure that you are always present when your child is confronted with the individual in question and that you are an active participant in their interaction.
Don’t leave your child without emotional support during the interaction and look for ways to excuse yourselves as politely as possible. While you don’t have to be on the best of terms with the narcissist relative, you can still maintain a façade of good relations while protecting your child from their psychological influence.
- Don’t Fall for Narcissist’s Excuses
Narcissists are prone to justification and excuses when it comes to their influence on others around them. This can lead to prolonged conversations and interactions between you and the relative in question where the only outcome will be their (personal) victory. Make sure not to fall for any excuses made by narcissists who try to justify their behavior to you.
This is especially true when it comes to your own child’s wellbeing and mental stability in the light of potential previous interactions with the relative. Simply distance your child and yourself from the conversation in a way that doesn’t raise red flags with your young one and look for ways to minimize any further conversations they might have with them.
- Avoid Confrontation in Front of your Child
Children, while strong and full of potential, are still frail and prone to emotional scarring. Do not confront the narcissistic relative in front of your child, verbally or physically. The best course of action to take is to inform your relative’s relatives or a medical professional about what has transpired in terms of their behavior.
Even if you are a medical expert yourself, you are not objective enough to make confrontational assessments about the individual since your child is the one that came under their influence. As we’ve previously stated, the only losing side in that confrontation will be your own since narcissists are rarely aware of how others perceive their statements.
- Encourage your Child to Open Up
Lastly, it’s highly important that you talk to your child in the privacy of your home, their bedroom or other safe spaces. Confront the topic in a casual and non-judgmental manner to avoid putting a sense of guilt onto your child’s shoulders.
Talk to them about the person in question and ask about their previous encounters, topics of conversation and other interactive details. Learn as much as you can about how the relative in question treated your child, how long it went on and whether or not you have the basis for legal action. Most importantly however is to ensure your child’s mental and physical wellbeing in light of emotional or (less likely) physical abuse from the individual.
Be your Child’s Anchor (Conclusion)
Children can often be reserved or introverted, especially if there is a history of emotional abuse or narcissist interactions present. Look for signs of instability and social issues such as a lack of friends, poor school performance or a lack of interest in any hobbies or activities.
Don’t come into a situation where your child shows clear signs that something wrong is afoot because you are busy with your work, chores or other necessary, but secondary obligations. Do what is in your legal and parental power to protect your child from a narcissistic relative – their happiness and safety are what matters most in the end.
Author’s bio. Daniela McVicker is a psychologist and family counselor. She is also a freelance writer and a contributor to TopWritersReview. Her passion is writing about leading a healthy family life and helping people enjoy their lives to the fullest.