THEORIES ON WHAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED TO TURN YOUR CHILD NARCISSISTIC
If the child grows up in a household that has a parent that is narcissistic, alcoholic or an otherwise unhealthy environment the child could have struggled for attention. The only way to keep the peace might have been do everything to keep the damaging parent from raging on them. This causes them to learn that affection needs to be earned. They are then repeating the patterns of the narcissistic parent. This begins the theory that narcissistic adults are just wounded children coping to make themselves feel special.
When a parent with a narcissistic spouse sees these behaviors in the kids, they of course freak out thinking they did something wrong by having a child with a narcissist. This is usually where parents go first without looking at the fact that when they had the child they probably didn’t understand that their partner had NPD. Don’t blame yourself and don’t think their fate is sealed. Children learn behaviors from what they see. A child with a narcissistic parent may be learning behaviors that are triggering to you. This may not define them as narcissistic, they are just doing what they see. You can teach them empathy on how it feels when they do the behaviors and that these are not acceptable in your house.
You could have done nothing at all to create them, you gave them a good home, you got them therapy to help with their behaviors, you didn’t spoil them and yet here you are. The biological factor that could have contributed is not something to ignore. Narcissism can be passed down from relatives, since there are no tests that show your child is missing an empathy gene this is sort of a dead end, but I wanted to mention it to the parents still struggling to figure this out. There may never be a concrete reason for why they are this way so at this point you may explore your family’s history.
Behaviors are what we are concerned about, not a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Parents often walk away too early not thinking they can help the narcissistic child, or they become enablers not understanding what is happening; they indulge to keep the peace accepting that this is just their child being “themselves”.
WHAT IF YOUR CHILD IS AN ADULT NARCISSISTIC?
Narcissistic children grow up and go on to have careers and start their own families. In this stage they might hold the grandchildren back from you. I suggest you read ‘being relationship page’ and ‘divorcing a narcissist’ to understand this period in their lives.
I am often asked by victims of abuse: Why didn’t the narcissist’s parents warn them before they married the narcissist? This one is tough because after years of enduring abuse from their child, most parents “hope” that you will save them and teach them what love is. In some cases, the frustrated parents feel that you can take the weight off them and maybe this time they will be happy. They hold onto hope and you are the only hope they have seen in a long time.
While you cannot simply warn the spouse of your child that your child can be a bit crazy, you could help the spouse when they have questions. Let them know you will always be there. Believe their spouse if they share stories that confuse them.
If your child has kids of their own it can be painful to watch. If your relationship is still open, you could help be a grounding force in the grandchildren’s lives when they spend time with you.
Often going no contact is your only solution
Narcissists do not like to play by a new set of rules and a narcissistic child that has had a lifetime of using you as a punching bag will not go down without a fight. The game you are playing now (self-healing) will piss them off and they may begin to jack up the pain and smears, in which case evaluate going completely no contact. It may not be easy to never see your child again because of them having their own family someday, but when things get terrible for you and the rest of your family this may be your only choice. I know, not an easy one.
If you cannot go completely no contact, then learn Grey Rock techniques to manage the exposure you will have with them going forward. Only when you are free from the narcissistic child are you free to heal and release the drama.
Understand things won’t change – so come to terms of what the relationship can look like.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR CHILD
Learn skills and coping methods for you and your family. Teach your other children how to deal with their sibling by learning coping skills to alleviate some of their anxiety. Often the narcissistic child demands so much attention that other children feel neglected. Be sure to even your attention to the other children.
Avoid the drama by not playing into their behaviors. Walk away and don’t show them they are getting to you, because they feed on attention even if its negative.
Set boundaries and say “no” early. I know this is hard, especially when the drama they are telling you is such a good and believable story, but you are enabling them to never learn responsibility. Stay firm and stay together as a family. The last thing you want is to create is the mom against dad game because everyone loses. Don’t allow behaviors that disrupt your family – create rules with consequences.
Be careful of crumbs, crumbs are little moments of seeing their “old self” because this is usually an act to get something from you. We hold onto the light thinking the ‘old child’ is still in there and if you just love them more, they will change. Once they are adults the chance of them changing is slim, because they would need to see the problem and be willing to do some long hard therapy and most narcissists do not see anything wrong with themselves, it’s everyone else.
When they are older expect to always wonder if they are safe.
When speaking with parents of adult children who have had no choice but to go no contact several have shared that to cope with this loss they think of their child as dead. Grieving for them is very real so get therapy for yourself. Many parents report a numbness to their child after years of abuse.
To keep your sanity, remove painful memories and pictures from around the house – keep them in a box but not where you will be looking at them every day. This may trigger you daily and you cannot heal.
The future of a child narcissist is not bright, the lies will continue in their own relationships, the lack of loyalty will cause them to cheat, they will never be able to keep people in their lives for long and that may include your own family. If they have done things to break the law, they will end up in jail and to them, it will certainly be someone else’s fault.