Narcissistic parents tend to adopt one of two styles of parenting: enmeshment or neglectful. Both styles are loaded with negative consequences for children of narcissists. This post explores the consequences of enmeshment for the child. In a future post we’ll explore the consequences of neglect.
What is Enmeshment?
Enmeshment is a dysfunctional state where a two or more people have porous and indistinguishable boundaries. Enmeshment can occur between a parent or child, whole families, or adult couples. This article will be talking about enmeshment between a narcissistic mother and her son. The narcissistic parent could become enmeshed with her daughter or all her offspring, though. The same goes for a narcissistic father.
Since the boundaries between two enmeshed people are permeable, they tend to catch each others emotions. If the narcissistic parent becomes angry at a store clerk who slighted her by waiting on another customer first, her son will grow angry as well.
Emotions are a complicated thing for those in an enmeshed relationships. Unable to tell the difference between each others emotions, each member in the relationship will have times when they feel they need to be rescued from their emotions by the other person. Similarly, they’ll each have time when they feel they have to rescue the other person from their emotions.
Those in an enmeshed relationship come to depend the other enmeshed person for their identity. They become so lost that they lose, or fail to develop, their sense of self.
An enmeshed person depends on the person their enmeshed with for their self-worth. Since narcissists emotionally abuse their children, their enmeshed offspring often have low self-esteem. Continue reading
Isn’t is puzzling? No matter how much you ignore your narcissistic parent they keep coming back to you. Even if you say “I don’t want any contact with you,” they’re back.
It’s like trying to stop that stray dog from following you home.
When your narcissistic father is pursuing you, it’s almost possible to believe he loves you.
But he doesn’t. He’s not capable of loving you. He’ll tell you he loves you. But when you think back you realize that he’s never demonstrated unconditional love for you. His “love” has always been conditional on how much adoration and praise you shower on him. Continue reading
We all, at any age, like to think that our parents love and treasure us. We also like to think they will be there to support us if we have problems or are in need of assistance.
As much as this might hurt to read, none of the above is true for the adult child of a narcissistic parent.
You already know that your parent is not like other parents. Your parent is self-absorbed, talks about themselves in grandiose terms, and is overly critical. You may have come to accept it.
What you may not have come to accept is your parent’s limitations when it comes to loving others, even you. But coming to accept your parent’s limitations in this area will take your further down the road of healing.
Therefore, it’s vital that we explore this painful topic. Continue reading
You don’t expect it to happen. But it does. Your narcissistic parent one day seems old to you. Frailer in body, but not so much in personality.
She may need help getting groceries. Maybe she can’t drive anymore.
Suddenly, no matter what boundaries you’ve erected in the past, you find yourself facing a dilemma. Without you, your mom can’t get groceries, get to the doctor, or pick up her medicine.
When this happens, what are your responsibilities?
The Demands of an Aging Narcissistic Parent
Over the last couple of years I’ve lived this dilemma with my father. He lived alone in a one bedroom apartment. His personality had finally driven everyone away, so he was left with a single friend that sometimes provided rides or picked up a few groceries. Continue reading
There will come a time when your aging narcissistic parent will no longer be able to live on her own. This is a hazardous time for you. She may try to make you feel guilty for not moving her in with you. You have to be firm in setting your boundaries. No matter what, you can expect your parent to ply all her narcissistic devices to avoid placement. This will not be an easy time for you as she infects you with guilt for abandoning her.
But you can use this situation to your benefit if you examine your feelings and reactions to those feelings and trace them to their source. It is a time when you can work on some of your issues. You can work on seeing the narcissistic games.
This is an opportunity to work on your guilt. Your mother or father cannot care for themselves any more. You are ensuring they get the care they need. Why then should you feel any guilt? Continue reading
Watch Out for Your Narcissistic Parent’s Con
Narcissists are like con men—they’re always scheming for a way to pull one over on you. You can set up boundaries to protect yourself, but they find the weaknesses in your defenses and slink through. And before you know it you find yourself the patsy in their con.
Where a conman uses visions of riches to ensnare their victims, narcissistic parents are likely to use your own guilt and anxiety to get what they want. The narcissistic parent’s demands are not always stated up front. At times they use a con to steal what they want from you.
Cons follow a predictable pattern that looks like this:
- Foundation Work—the narcissist makes their plan and lays the ground work for getting what they want from you.
- Approach—this involves getting in touch with you. This stage is carefully prepared and they come armed with what will make you feel guilty so you lower your boundaries.
- Build-up—the narcissist introduces their scheme to you. What they want will mostly not be stated outright. They use this stage to lower your guard so they can get what they want.
- Pay-off—the narcissist appears to give to you, his victim, something that you have been wanting. This may be a physical gift or an emotional promise. The narcissist knows what you yearn for so they know just how to pay you so you can be easily manipulated.
- They Hurrah—this is a sudden crisis or unexpected development in which the adult child of the narcissist is pushed or forced to act. Once the hurrah is triggered the child is putty in the narcissist’s hands and will give her what she wants.
(For more information on how cons work, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_trick#Stages_of_the_con)
Right now I’m trying to figure out the hurrah in my father’s attempt to con me. Continue reading