You’ve come to the realization that one or both of your parents have narcissistic personality disorder. Perhaps you have established boundaries with you parents. Or maybe you’re just starting to. But there’s one set of boundaries you need to establish fast. And there can be no giving in on them.
What boundaries are these?
The ones around your kids.
The Danger of Narcissistic Grandparents
Do you remember the emotional abuse that your narcissistic parent heaped on you as a child? On top of that, think back to all the manipulations, criticisms, and blame that your parent laid on you.
Do you really want your parent spending time with your children knowing their potential for harm?
Do you want the same person that abused you to have a shot at your children?
Your narcissistic parent will not be warm and supportive of your parenting. Why would he? Your narcissistic parent has never supported you—unless it served his ends.
Your sweet little innocent children are all too tempting targets for your narcissistic parent. Children, especially young ones, are trusting of grandmas and grandpas. They’ll listen to the lies your parent tells them about you. Lies about how terrible you’ve been to them. Your parent will weave tales about what a horrible child you were and how they gave you nothing but love while sacrificing their own welfare for you.
What he will do is turn your children against you.
But that is not all the danger. Children learn by watching and listening to the adults in their lives. Your child will learn from their narcissistic grandparent how to be manipulative, deceitful, and selfish.
And, unless you’re present every minute your parent is with your kids, you will not know it’s going on. Not until your children start to defy you and call you the same names your parents called you as a child, that is.
You should consider your parent to be a well of toxicity. Just as you would protect your children from a toxic spill, you should shelter them from your parent.
And you should feel no guilt. It’s purely good parenting.
What A Narcissistic Grandparent gets from Your Child
You know your parent. They never do anything unless there’s something in it for them. So why, you may be wondering, do they want to spend time with your kids?
One reason—as detailed above—is to get at you. By manipulating your children, your parent can carry on the emotional abuse that he has pummeled you with all your life. What better abuse than to turn the children you love so much against you?
Young children who have been turned against you will not understand your efforts to rationalize with them about how grandpa lied to them. Grandpa already told the children that you would say he lied. You’ll be playing into his hand. Getting your children’s minds back could take a lot of time and effort.
There’s a second reason your parents are interested in your kids. Kids adore and love grandparents—even narcissistic ones. The love kids tend to have for grandparents makes them never ending sources of narcissistic supply.
Narcissistic supply is the attention, love, admiration, or even fear and hatred that non-narcissists show towards them. A narcissistic individual needs narcissistic supply to keep their false self in place. See here for more information on the false self.
Narcissists pick unwitting individuals to guzzle narcissistic supply from. Young children are wonderful sources of narcissistic supply. Ensuring a good source of narcissistic supply is the main reason narcissists have children. They are not looking to start a loving family. The love in their family will only flow from the children to the parent.
The narcissistic parent is like a vampire that keeps a victim on hand so he can draw blood from her each day. Similarly, narcissistic parents draw narcissistic supply from their children daily. With guilt, rage, and sudden, short-lived shows of kindness, they manipulate their children to show appreciation, love, or tearful apologies toward their narcissistic parent.
The narcissistic parent drinks this in and has their false sense of grandiosity, greatness, and admiration fortified.
This is what your parent wants your kids for.
Don’t let it happen.
What You Need With All Narcissists—Boundaries
Many adult children of narcissists struggle with erecting boundaries with their parents. Feelings from fear to guilt prevent them from putting a firm barrier between them and their parent.
However, you cannot let such feelings prevent you from putting an invisible fence around your children. You have a responsibility to prevent them from being emotionally abused. And you have a moral imperative to keep their grandparent from feeding off their innocent expressions of love.
The ideal is to prevent your parent from having any contact with your children. Tell your parent they aren’t allowed to spend time with your child. You may have to deal with their rage, but at least your kids are safe.
If you don’t want to tell the parent no, this can be done without telling your parent he can’t see the children. My mother used to ask to take my kids out. I always said I’d email her some dates and then not do so. After a while—years—she stopped asking.
If you are unable to say no, then be present in the same room the entire time your children and narcissistic parent are together. Should the parent want to take your kids out, say, “We’d be glad to accompany you. What time are you picking us up?” This is the strategy my wife used before I understood that my parents were narcissists every time my mother wanted to take the kids out.
My wife would tell my mother that our children felt better if she went along. Usually the excursion was to some place to eat. My mother demanded a photo of the kids eating. She forced them to smile wider and wider until they wore maniacal grins. My wife’s presence ensured that the kids were not abused or became sources of narcissistic supply.
Whatever method you choose, just keep your kids away from their narcissistic grandparents. Ensure that your children only have relationships with healthy adults. While healthy grandparents can enrich your child’s life, your parents—narcissistic or healthy—are not essential to your children’s development.
Your child will not feel an emptiness if your parent is he not part of his or her life. On the contrary, having your parent in their life may induce the presence of emotional pain.
Your narcissistic parent can only harm your child. By keeping your parents away from your kids, you have the opportunity to break the cycle of narcissistic abuse that injured you.
Set the boundaries and protect your child like you wish someone protected you when you were a kid.
In protecting your child, I wish that the pain burning within you is healed. May the actions you take part of on behalf of the ones you treasure empower you to set boundaries around yourself as well.
May the spirit of peace cradle you in her arms.
What most scares you about a narcissistic parent being alone with your children?
Tell us in the comments below.