There are a few expert tips on how to handle a narcissistic parent or a narcissist of any kind.
Everything they do is predictable and they all basically behave the same way.
It’s unsettling how they all seem to have the same playbook and once you start to see it, you can’t unsee it.
Dealing with a narcissist can be some of the most difficult and stressful times of the year.
The problem with holidays and special occasions is they always keep you on your toes trying to meet these obligations and prove your love.
If you fail to live up to these manufactured expectations, then you’re considered less than, and not as good as other people.
As an example, I buy all my own presents from my husband, it easier, and I always get what I want.
My mother was horrified and made the biggest deal out of it.
I think my husband is permanently damaged because she made it sound like he must not really love me.
He does buy me things and I’m well taken care of.
This was her very covert way of trying to cause problems in my marriage.
When my mother intervenes, it’s like she always puts me in a position where I have to lie instead of just being myself.
I hate it, because I was perfectly happy, leave me alone.
The only way to survive the holidays is to know how to handle a narcissistic parent.
It takes stone-cold will power to put up with their crap when you know what you’re up against.
The holidays are perfect ammunition for a narcissistic parent.
They thrive on forcing their children and adult children to meet their unrealistic demands on a daily bases.
Throw in a few extra stressful “holidays,” and it’s a wonderful time for a narcissist.
Their children… not so much.
Most of us hate holidays, father’s day, mother’s day, whatever happened to treat you kid decent for a day.
These happy holidays are not happy for the child of a narcissist.
There’re seven paid holidays guaranteed to create a steady stream of narcissistic supply throughout the year:
- New Year’s Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Memorial Day
You’re obligated to be at each and every one of these without fail.
Not to mention the dreaded mother’s day.
Good luck finding a card for that.
Examples of how all narcissistic mothers predictably behave.
Should you consider doing something else with friends or inlaws, the narcissistic parent will resort to whatever various forms of manipulation necessary including:
- The Never-Ending Guilt Trip– If you miss an occasion, it will be held against you for as long as they can remember it.
- The Outright Temper Tantrums– “I do all of this for you, and now you’re not even going to be here for me.”
- The Alienation– “Oh, well, we didn’t think you were going to be here this year since you weren’t last year, so we didn’t plan for you.”
- The Accidental Exclusion– Repeatedly failing to give a time or date, and when you ask, they throw a huge fit about how you were told and that this had been planned for months. When, in fact, it was never mentioned to you even once.
- The Cancelation Threat– “I can’t possibly do this on my own, so we’ll cancel our celebrations.” The idea is to punish not just you but to punish the entire family who will then also blame you for “ruining everything.”
The list goes on, but I think you get my point.
Once you show up for these epic holidays, the real fun begins.
A narcissistic parent hates seeing other family members happy.
Narcissists don’t understand holidays and they’re not there for the same reasons you are.
As I became more aware of what was actually happening, I would watch as my mother would systematically manipulate and destroy each person in the room.
This is a known tactic of a narcissist, to divide and conquer.
When everyone is too busy reeling from being attacked, no one can see what’s happening to everyone else.
We’re all confined to our corners and isolated from each other.
There is no communication between siblings because you don’t have a relationship.
It’s incredible how, in my case, three children can grow up in the same household and have absolutely no relationship with each other.
We weren’t allowed.
I wasn’t allowed to have a relationship with my father, either.
I remember being the apple of his eye as his firstborn daughter, but my narcissistic mother was a jealous and hateful woman, and I was a threat.
She knew full well that if he knew how she treated me, he would’ve turned on her.
The problem with narcissistic abuse is I thought she was only doing it to me, but in reality, she was doing to everyone.
It was important to understand a narcissistic parent affects the entire family and I wasn’t the only victim.
No one is allowed to be happy or joyful in the presence of a narcissistic mother.
Sure, she wants you to fake it and stop acting like you’ve been abused after you’ve been attacked, but deep down she doesn’t want you to actually be happy, oh no.
Every new holiday season, you have high hopes of family and fun.
Unfortunately, the narcissist can’t get supply from happiness.
They are so miserable inside they can’t stand to see anyone feeling better than them, so they work overtime trying to bring each family member down to their level.
For a “normal person,” this is a monumental task, the effort, and the drive to destroy another human being is no small feat.
It takes massive amounts of forethought and energy to make sure every member feels as low and unhappy as the narcissist.
There wasn’t a holiday that went by that my mother didn’t throw some embarrassing temper tantrum in front of everyone.
After I married, I caught her screaming demands at my husband and my sister’s husband.
She also has her own new husband, so I don’t know why she felt the need to go after my husband, whom she barely knew.
He was a guest.
We drove four hours one way for these visits, and when she attacked my husband like that, it was the beginning of the end for me.
My mother didn’t just cross a line, she bulldozes it on a regular basis.
How to handle a narcissistic parent when you don’t have a choice:
If you don’t have a choice and you have to participate here are a few tips to keep you safe:
- Run yourself ragged, trying to make her happy and meet all her demands because if one thing went wrong, the entire day, of course, is ruined. If you’re the scapegoat like me, then she’ll find a way to make it all your fault and make sure the family blames you for it too.
- Be agreeable. Agree with everything, no matter what it is or how ridiculous it seems.
- Never show your true self because everything you think and feel is wrong, and you’ll be publicly humiliated in front of everyone.
- Give compliments as often as possible. Narcissists need constant reassurance from outside sources, and if you’re stroking their ego, you’re less likely to be attacked.
- Don’t take the bait. When she insults you trying to get a reaction out of you, choose not to react.
- Use one-word responses like interesting or okay. Do not elaborate or try to defend yourself; the idea is to create the illusion that she has the upper hand. Become uninteresting like a cold grey rock (Grey Rock Method).
- Limit your time. I always noticed how my siblings seemed to pop in and pop out when I was expected to do all the cooking and clean up by myself. You’ll have to become too busy and think up an excuse ahead of time.
None of these suggestions will work for long, but they might get you through the day.
I know the dread you feel and how you have to psych yourself out weeks ahead of time to get in the right mindset.
Dr. Ramani can tell you exactly how to handle a narcissistic parent.
She is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in narcissism and her methods are tried and true.
It’s the best information on narcissism that I’ve seen.
What are holidays like without the narcissist?
For many going no contact with a narcissist is the only option.
There was never an event with my mother that I didn’t leave completely drained, exhausted, and would take days to fully recover from.
I went no contact before I knew what that meant and before I knew my mother was a narcissist.
The first year of holidays without your family is brutal.
The guilt, the loneliness, society telling you you’re a bad daughter, and that you should love your mother.
When you have a narcissistic parent, society rules don’t apply to you.
You will have to stop listening to what people with a loving mother say.
They’re not qualified to pass judgment, and they will never be able to comprehend life without a loving mother.
Just as you will never be able to comprehend life with a loving mother.
Once you’ve stopped listening to people that can’t understand, the second year of holidays will be a whole new experience for you.
Can you even imagine enjoying the holidays?
Can you imagine looking forward to a family trip?
I certainly couldn’t.
But, that’s exactly what happens.
I never once enjoyed a single holiday or vacation with my family.
After going no contact, and taking the time to heal, by the second year, I was free.
Free to do whatever I wanted, maybe I’ll celebrate, and maybe I won’t.
An astrologer once told me that most of life’s problems run on an eight-month cycle if it’s more than eight months people start to get worried about mental illness.
I must’ve taken two cycles because it took me at least sixteen months after going no contact for my head to stop spinning.
I didn’t see it coming.
I thought you go no contact and boom, you feel better.
What I discovered is that the healing can’t really begin until you stop the abuse.
Do I feel lonely?
When you’ve been picked on and abused your entire life, it feels good to be at peace and left in peace.
I’m not a happy holiday’s kinda gal.
I’m exhausted from the madness year after year and I don’t miss the holidays at all.
Besides, a scapegoat never feels more lonely than when trapped in a room with their narcissistic family.
No more guilt trips, no more obligations, no more blame, and no more shame.
Who knew that the holidays didn’t have to feel that way.
When you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse sometimes you need help. Making the decision and committing to therapy can be a big ask but what if you could do it from home at your own pace?
It called Online-Therapy (20% off affiliate link).
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Post like this and narcissistic support groups are no substitute for therapy.