If you’re a parent with a child who shows signs of the narcissistic personality disorder.
Young toddlers and teenagers can act narcissistically. People can have narcissistic characteristics. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have the narcissistic personality disorder. Most people can have positive and negative personality traits. For example, someone can be confident and not go around putting others down or exploiting others, yet if they don’t have more characteristics of NPD, it’s not arrogance, and they are most likely not a narcissist.
Some adult children could have a borderline personality disorder, or if they had a traumatic childhood or a narcissistic parent, they could be suffering from CPTSD.
Some young toddlers come across as self-entitled and throw major tantrums when they don’t get their own way, and this can be just a normal part of growing up. Some teenagers can have mood swings and be incredibly selfish. Again this can be a normal part of growing up. So many class those with the disorder as toddlers in adults bodies, That never learned to the difference between right and wrong and never learned how to tell the truth, as a toddler, to save themselves from getting into trouble, when asked if they had done something they shouldn’t will stand there and blatantly lie to protect themselves, or they’ll blame a sibling or a friend, some really hate sharing toys and will snatch others, most learn and grow out of this, or they at least learn if they don’t want to share their stuff, which people are entitled not to share, that they don’t expect things from others, the whole give and take.
Parents often feel powerless and full of guilt. They can be left with narcissistic Abuse syndrome. The children can often take control as parents try their best to help their child, which often enables the child more. Like any relationship with a narcissist, the children can love bomb the parents to get their needs met, then devalue, discard and come back for the hoover and love bomb the parents to get what they want at that time again. This is a challenging place for parents to be. They often become trapped within the cycle. As the parent of the child, they want to help the child out and do their best for them. Parents find it incredibly difficult to walk away from their own children, especially when they are crying out for help, and are often left feeling to blame for how their children behave and feelings of guilt when they help the child or when they walk away from the child.
When they have grandchildren, it becomes increasingly difficult as they want to help, support and protect the grandchildren also, with their own child often using the grandchildren as a pawn, one minute they can leave the parents to care for the grandchildren, the next usually if the Narcissistic child hadn’t got their own way, they disappear or stop the grandparents from seeing the grandchildren, manipulation to get their own way, using the grandchildren as pawns with the grandparents.
Some things they might do or ways they might treat you.
Adult children who are narcissists, some of these stay in the family home for as long as they are able to do so. They want to be taken care of. They are extremely demanding, with no empathy, manipulate their parents. These often have so many problems and create more and more problems within the family unit to gain attention and sympathy.
Some leave home and still continue to control their parents’ lives through manipulation.
They might laugh at you, eye roll, smirk, call you by your first name in front of others as a third party, and smear your name to others. They’re never responsible for their own behaviour, so they deflect with words like most narcissists do.
You do all you can for them, and they’ll rarely do anything for you. If you ask a favour of them or help around the home, most will not do it unless they want something from you. Most will deflect and bring the conversation on to things that you haven’t done.
“You’ve never” followed with a thing like “done this for me.”
“I’ve never.” Followed with things like “did that.”
“You’ve always.” Followed by things like “preferred my sibling.”
“I’ve always.” Followed with things like, “done what you wanted.”
They can love bomb the family when they want something. They can be incredibly charming and accommodating. Yet, as soon as they get what they want, they will become critical of their parents again, Putting them down, often telling their parents what they should and shouldn’t do.
1. Superiority, having an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
2. Entitlement believes they are entitled to what they want, when they want, often requiring attention or help in some way.
3. Empathy, or a lack of understanding towards those around them
4. Arrogance and domineering, often having an inflated ego, believing their ideas, thoughts and opinions are the truth, and yours are insignificant. They are controlling situations either by being superior or playing the victim.
5. Grandiose, they believe they are above all others.
6. Special and unique, we are all special in our own right. However, narcissists take it to the next level, and they don’t see people as individuals who are all special and worthy. They see others as inferior to their greatness.
7. Envious of others, this isn’t a case of someone being jealous of someone’s new car, being pleased for that person and their new vehicles, wishing they had one and finding ways to earn money to achieve getting one, as seeing it made them realise they’d like one, this is envy with pure hatred, they don’t think others deserve to have something they haven’t got, they don’t see it as someone else has earned it, they see it as someone has stolen what’s rightfully there’s, they will often think the other person was lucky or cheated.
8. Exploit, they will exploit others. With their lack of empathy, they will either place fear into others or guilt-trip others to meet their own needs, use their dominance side to get others to meet their demands, or play victim and pity play, to get their needs met.
9. Success, if they are successful or not, most will brag and exaggerate any achievements made. Those who haven’t Will not look to themselves as to why they haven’t. Instead, they will blame those around them.
What can you do?
With younger children, it could just be standard childhood learning curves, and you can help guide them if they are just narcissistic. Dealing with an adult child narcissist on the spectrum is a challenging situation.
The only way to handle these is to leave them to it, recognising that how they want to live their life as a fully grown adult is entirely up to them, and how you want to live yours is up to you.
It’s hard to recognise and accept that your child is a narcissist, accepting that is who they are, and no matter what you do, it’ll not change them.
Knowing you love them unconditionally doesn’t mean you have to accept their toxic behaviour, and they need consequences for their destructive behaviours. If that was phoning the authorities if they steal from you or asking them to move out of the home if you can not handle what they are doing.
Recognise and acknowledge that you love them, and let them know this. Know they most often do not love you back. No matter what you do to help them, it will never be enough for them to love you back or respect what you do for them, knowing they will never appreciate what you do, and will most often throwback in your face what you have done, will save you a lifetime of pain. Keeping your standards high of behaviour you will and will not accept, yet expectations low of how they will treat you.
The more you try to explain and help them, the more they will fight against you. If you keep giving in to them and giving them what they want, they will keep taking. You’ll keep hurting, knowing that’s who they are and what they do, remove the guilt knowing you have done all you could think of and nothing worked, let the guilt go and stop giving if giving leaves you feeling unhappy if you’re happy to give, then give, this is your life.
Learn and stick to your boundaries. If you have a Boundary within your household that the adult child ignores, tackle them one by one, and if your adult child breaks those boundaries, you need to set firm consequences and stick with them. The more you give in, the more they will take advantage of you.
If you need to discuss things, try to do so in public, where they might put a lid on their verbally abusive behaviour, and you might get a true conversion with them.
With money, especially if they are using it for addictions, many parents believe they are helping by providing the cash, so the children don’t steal. Unfortunately, this just feeds their addictions. When they are adults, as much as parents want to help, you have to let them face the consequences of their own actions.
If they steal from you, then, unfortunately, the unconditional love of not doing anything other than confronting them is enabling them to continue to control and harm you. You either have to stop letting them in your home or call the authorities, I know this is hard when it’s your own child, but sometimes you have to let life teach them. You can not save people from themselves. They have to want to save themselves.
When it comes to the grandchildren, if you want to be a part of the grandchildren’s lives, then you have to play the narcissist games, but in the way of knowing you are doing it in the best interest of the grandchildren—getting the narcissist to level up. Yet not allowing them to take full advantage of you, as you have every right to live life how you want for yourself, with good intentions. There is no wrong way or right way to live your life.
So if they want you to have the grandchildren and you’re free to do so, have them. If they send a list of dos and don’ts, if you agree or not, stick with it. If you say no to having them and your child tantrums or sulks, explain once why you can not and leave them to it. Do not get drawn into a debate. Even if you see your child’s parenting is harming the grandchildren, if it’s severe, you might need to call the relevant services. If it’s not, don’t tell them or try to help them, parent, be there for the grandchildren if your child allows.
If they’ve isolated the grandchildren from you, still send cards and gifts to the children as you usually would do.
When they are friendly, give them attention. When they are being hurtful and using the grandchildren as pawns, provide them with no attention. Narcissists live for attention, they don’t mind positive or negative, so if they are not getting the negative, they are more likely to go for the positive.
If they want to give you the silent treatment, don’t reach out to them, they are just manipulating you; most will come back when they want something from you.
Make sure you live your adult life. You’ve raised them to adulthood. Now they need to learn to help themselves. It’s difficult when it’s our child to draw that line of no longer parenting them. There’s no wrong in being there to support our adult children, just like supporting a friend or a relative, yet a child at some point when they become an adult. However, you’ll always be their parent. At some point, you no longer need to parent them.
Often parents naturally become emotional thinkers around their children, narcissistic or not, as they care and love them deeply. This then places the narcissistic child in control, as they don’t have the empathy to care, so that they will exploit their parents. Parents need to try to think rationally when it comes to dealing with an adult narcissistic child.
Letting go of any guilt, not taking on all the responsibility, you did what you thought was best at any given moment, you tried to help, they don’t want to accept that help, they continue to exploit you.
Working on ourselves, as with any narcissistic relationship, distancing ourselves from them and their drama, leaving them to handle the drama they cause within their lives, learning we can not help them. They need to learn to help themselves. At the same time, we go and work on ourselves, who we are and what our life is about. If life was around the child, finding things to do that we love to do for ourselves.
With some, as hard as it is, you will need to cut them out of your life and focus on yourself. It’s incredibly hard to cut contact with your own children, especially if grandchildren are involved. Ignore the smear campaigns you know the situation in its entirety. What others think of you is not for you, let your child go their way, and you go yours. Join support groups, reach out to family and friends who understand. Eventually, your child will see they pushed you too far, and you are no longer interested.
How not to argue with a narcissist.
More on characteristics.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with (Sponsored.) BetterHelp. Where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.