A narcissistic family member can be destructive to the family unit.

They undermine relationships, endanger emotional stability, and cause chaos in the lives of their loved ones. Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes on purpose.

For people who are involved with a narcissist, it can be difficult to understand what motivates them. Narcissists don’t experience empathy or remorse, which can make it challenging for those who are used to their behavior to see that they are abusive.

Families make it trickier

Their toxic ways can cause serious problems in the family, as those who have been diagnosed with this personality disorder are often unwilling to change it.

The thing with family is that it’s tougher to throw them away compared to your other relationships. Whether you are distant or close, your family will be attached to you for the rest of your life. Why? Your bloodline is what connects you.

Recognizing the symptoms of narcissism: there are two types

If you have a good understanding of what narcissism is and how to ensure that you don’t become a victim of narcissistic abuse, you may find it easier to navigate relationships with family members who display the traits of this disorder.

There are two types of narcissism: overt and covert. While both share similar traits, the overt narcissist is more “out there” with their behavior compared to the subtle and sneaky covert narcissist. Overall, common signs of narcissism include:

  • A grandiose sense of self
  • Selfish and manipulative behavior
  • Low empathy and lack of remorse for one’s actions
  • A co-dependency type of attachment to others
  • Getting a “high” from attention and praise
  • A lack of patience, wanting what they want when they want it

How to deal with a narcissistic parent

It is not uncommon for a child with narcissistic personality disorder to be raised by a narcissistic parent. You know what they say–the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Those with narcissistic parents normally need the most help dealing with the abuse, because they were in control of you during your childhood, and likely abused their power over you every chance they got.   

Narcissistic parents are known to:

  • Us emotional manipulation to alter your responses and make you do what they want
  • Exhibit a lack of understanding and showing complete disregard for individuality inside the house. Typically, narcissistic guardians wish to create Xerox copies of their own and want their kids to live under their shadow their entire life
  • Consistently use your success as a way to insist upon their superiority in front of others, instead of giving you your due credit
  • Have unrealistic academic expectations of their kids
  • Continuously remind you of the fact that they’re raising you and boasting about the fact that they’re spending money on you. It’s an effort to remind you of your inferior status inside the house and to lower yourself down even further
  • Show a lack of unconditional love and affection in private settings

What to do

The best way to cope with a narcissistic parent is to set limits on your time with them. In fact, distance yourself as much as you possibly can.

Stop answering the phone for any reason. Don’t make yourself available to them at their beck and call. The closer you are to them, the more likely they are to manipulate you to look to them as the only source of authority.

Childhood traumas become even more prevalent when there’s narcissistic abuse endured through parenting. To move ahead in life, you’ve got to break the cycle of horrors you experienced at their mercy.

Attending therapy sessions or talking to a counselor can help you establish healthy boundaries. Additionally, it can help you in coping with the grim memories of the past.

If you grew up with narcissistic siblings

Narcissistic siblings operate with a “what you see is what you get” philosophy, which means they take little to no responsibility for their actions and will repeat actions time and time again.

They see you as an obstacle to their goals, as well as an outlet for their stress. They act this way because they feel that they can.

You’ll know that your sibling is a narcissist if they:

  • Have a habit of publicly humiliating you as an act to insist their superiority over you
  • Consistently push you under the bus and play victim when you’re both in trouble
  • Use you as a scapegoat to maintain their clean reputation in front of your parents
  • Constantly fish for compliments from you and others
  • Purposely violate boundaries by looking through your stuff or revealing your secrets

Make sure your sibling is aware of the damage they are doing to you. When they’re wrong, and don’t let them guilt you into thinking otherwise. Don’t take anything they say at face value, and take a firm approach whenever you have to communicate with them.

When it comes to real life situations, DO NOT LET THEM manipulate you. If your sibling continues to abuse you emotionally, you may have to distance yourself from them.

Raising a narcissistic child

The signs of narcissistic tendencies in a child are often subtle, but a parent is usually able to recognize them off the bat. Key indicators include:

  • The habit of going to extreme lengths to gain someone’s approval
  • Inability to maintain consistent friendships
  • The constant insistence on being the center of attention.
  • Exhibiting rage when their siblings receive more attention than them.
  • Showing lack of empathy towards other kids, adults, or their siblings in a situation that benefits only them
  • Using emotional tactics and exploitation to get what they want by all means

Being overprotective and enforcing too many rules when a child does not have the mental capacity to comply may cause your child to rebel even more. Rather than nitpicking every little thing that they do, find healthy ways to communicate to them about their needs and problems.

When your child gets angry or upset, do not be afraid to let them cry for a while. It is also best to let your child vent before you offer your advice on what they should be doing.

Let children share their feelings without arguing or harsh criticism. While it may not be an easy task to navigate your child through the minefield that is being a narcissistic child, these tips can help you deal with them more delicately as a parent.  

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About Johnaé De Felicis

Johnaé De Felicis is in the business of health AND wealth. As a business, branding, and burnout coach for solopreneurs, Johnaé is passionate about helping others stress less, smile more, and gain the time and financial freedom to do what they love from anywhere. Johnaé is also a wellness and self-care junkie who strives to inspire others to lead happy, healthy, and wholesome lives.

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