Anyone who has ever been involved in a prolonged interaction with a narcissist can attest to the fact that the condition of narcissism can be highly unpleasant. Many people report the damaging effects of having a close friend, coworker, or boss who suffers from this affliction. For those who are stuck with a narcissistic parent, the impact can be truly devastating. In this post, we will discuss a few strategies to help you deal with a narcissist parent. As there is no “cure” or remedy for narcissism, we will see that these strategies really focus on minimizing or lessening the potential negative effects of dealing with a narcissist.
What is Narcissism? A Brief Overview
First, let’s just give a brief overview of the disorder of narcissism. Narcissism – or “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD) – is one of the personality disorders which make up the so-called “dark triad.” The dark triad refers to narcissism and two other disorders, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Basically, these three personality deficits represent what many would consider to be the nasty side of human nature. As with most disorders, narcissism exists on a spectrum; most people possess at least a few narcissistic traits, and so problems only really start when we see many traits clustered together in a single person. A person may be said to have NPD when they display the following traits in high intensity and in combination: callous disregard for the feelings and needs of others; imperviousness to criticism; excessive egotism (i.e. “egomania”); inflated sense of self-importance, superiority, arrogance; entitlement; superficial charm; attachment difficulties; feelings of boredom.
Those with NPD basically feel as though they have a natural right to move ahead of others, to disregard their feelings, and to treat them as objects for their own advancement and pleasure. Interestingly, since NPDs tend to lack a satisfactory “inner life,” they have a tendency to grow bored with people and circumstances easily. This leads them to often “discard” people or circumstances, and seek out new temporary sources of attachment.
Dealing with a Narcissist Parent as a Child
Needless to say, if you’re the child of a narcissist parent, being in this situation will present many challenges. Here are two ways you can better navigate the situation:
Self-reliance: Remember, the NPD lacks a true sense of self, even though NPDs often have high opinions of themselves. They need others to boost their own self-esteem. This is why you need to develop a strong sense of self-reliance and self-concept, because the NPD parent will tend not to “build up” his or her child, but will merely see his or her child as an instrument.
Seek healthy relationships: Part of the narcissist’s “game” is to isolate and control the people in his or her life. Because the NPD sees people are objects to be used, the NPD prefers to limit the opportunities of the people in his or her circle. This means that you need to seek out healthy relationships all the more vigorously. Your NPD parent will not be happy if he or she sees that you have many outside functional relationships; but this just means that you’re dealing with the NPD successfully.
Dealing with a Narcissist Parent as a Co-Parent
If you’re a co-parent with an NPD, you can certainly use both of the aforementioned strategies which can be used by children of NPDs. But, there are other things you should also do to better cope with the difficulties associated with co-parenting with a narcissist.
Report any abusive behavior: When you deal with a narcissist as a co-parent, you may become the victim of abuse. The NPD may use a variety of tactics to better control you and achieve his or her goals, including physical abuse, verbal intimidation, and so forth. Be sure to report instances of abuse whenever they happen. Abusive behavior needs to be dealt with by the proper authorities. Also, you need to document abuse because this behavior may be relevant when it comes to child custody matters.
Request modifications or enforcement of court orders: A narcissist parent will probably have difficulty when it comes to observing court-ordered visitation. Furthermore, an NPD parent may even try to sabotage your relationship with your child in various ways. One thing you can do is use the court system as much as you can to combat this behavior. Court orders, such as child custody agreements, can be modified after they’ve been put into place; courts can also enforce existing orders if the other parent isn’t cooperating. Don’t hesitate to use the system if you need to challenge bad behavior.
Contact the Law Office of Polly Tatum for More Information
Simply put, if you need to deal with a narcissist parent, it will never be easy. Narcissism isn’t something that can be cured. Although therapy can help, there is no guarantee that things can improve. And many narcissists won’t seek help anyway. If you’d like more information, contact the Law Office of Polly Tatum at Mediation Advantage.