A narcissistic parent is a hard thing to deal with.
In my novel, The Shattered Vase, the mother of my main character brought her to the brink of suicide. Suzie, my main character had just gone through her husband leaving her for another woman when she got a call from her mother. Instead of comforting her in her pain, Suzie’s mother drove the dagger of rejection deeper into the heart of Suzie. Suzie was so distraught she started to cut her wrist. https://www.theshatteredvase.com/index.php/product/buy-the-shattered-vase/
What would make a person do that to their child?
A narcissistic parent has a different barometer of love than most when it comes to their children. Sometimes it is necessary to understand a psychological disorder in order to gain a healthy perspective.
I found an excellent article on how to identify a narcissistic parent. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201602/10-signs-narcissistic-parent
Some highlights of this article are:
- . In a narcissistic parenting relationship, the child is rarely loved just for being herself or himself.
- What distinguishes the narcissistic parent is a pervasive tendency to deny the offspring, even as an adult, a sense of independent self-hood. The offspring exists merely to serve the selfish needs and machinations of the parent(s).
There are ten signs that you may have a narcissistic parent.
A narcissistic parent uses/or lives through their children.
Anyone who knows me, will know within a short amount of time, that I am a Christian. I love going to church.
Two of my children have decided not to follow this path. They have a relationship with God but it is not a mirror of mine.
One of my sons decided when he was a teenager that he no longer wanted to go to church.
I had taken them to church every chance I could, but their dad, who had them on the weekends, chose not to.
When my son was a teenager we had a talk about this. He said he still wanted to live like a Christian, with good values, but he didn’t want to attend church anymore.
As a mother, I had a choice to make.
The choice I made was to respect his independence.
It is interesting that this son and his wife have been more supportive than other family members when it came to releasing my novel on spiritual warfare. That novel is The Shattered Vase.
I remember when I was first married, my mother would harass me every single time she called about going to church. At that time in my life I had no interest in church. I told her once, “If you would just shut up about going to church, I may start going.”
She eventually stopped talking about it. When I got pregnant with my daughter I remember looking at my husband and saying, “We need to start going to church, because if I have children I want them to grow up in the church like I did.” lol
Most of my cherished memories from childhood involve my church.
Riding bike to daily vacation Bible School, the Christmas program, memorizing Bible verses for prizes. The list goes on and on.
However, I did not want to go to church as an adult unless it was my decision. A narcissistic parent was not going to force me to.
I grew up in a small Mennonite community.
If I had stayed in that town everyone would be talking if I didn’t go to church. It was expected in that town. The church was the center of many activities.
However, I moved away when I was eighteen years old and never wanted to go back. I saw their hypocrisy as a stark contrast to what I felt Jesus would have wanted.
As a result, not going to church became a necessary step in my rebellion and independence from a narcissistic parent and judgemental hometown.
Once I decided that I really enjoyed church I rarely skipped.
I watch church online now due to the COVID-19 crisis and love the messages. I am actually involved in two different churches now and have fond affection for both body of believers.
When a parent demands that an adult child go to church it can be spiritual abuse.
In Proverbs 22:6 the Bible says. “Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (International Standard Version)
Well, if that is true, then shouldn’t my children be going to church?
Yes, if you want to make that your standard of measure.
I prefer to use diferent standards of measure.
My children are all exceptionally kind to others.
When the George Floyd incident happened it was my two sons who convinced me that I should use my platform to combat police brutality. They are not black but they saw me loving my black friends as much as my white friends when I was raising them.
My children have worked hard to get an education and are financially independent of my help.
I have a friend who has three children. Two of his children are working and fulfilling their potential. The other one is struggling to find his path. He said once that his struggling kid had become involved in the church. (I don’t think this lasted long) He said, “I bet you can’t say that about your kids.”
No, I couldn’t, but I also did not have to support my children financially like he did.
My children have developed lives separate from mine.
My daughter lives in the same town as I do. I try to get together with her as often as I can. However, I try not to interfere with her life. She is married now and they just bought a home. I try to respect her marriage by not demanding too much time from her.
After she was married I sent her an email. She had lived with me for over five years before getting married. I asked her how much she wanted to get together now that she was married? She said every couple of weeks or so. I was elated!
One of the reasons I do not live close to my mother is because she would always expect me to be at her home. She is elderly now, and when I go to see her it can be stressful. I went to visit her for her birthday last year and she had a temper tantrum because she spilt her milk. She kept screaming at me and I finally left the room because I could not stand her tone of voice.
My children are very popular.
My children are all extremely well versed in social graces and have many friends. Many times I must work around their many social invitations to spend time with them. At times this is difficult but I am happy they have so many friends.
Some parents call their children their best friends.
I remember when I was working at a hospital and there was a couple who were Respiratory Therapists. They went on and on about their daughters. They said their daughters invited them to their prom and even danced with them!
At that time my daughter was close to the same age. She would have been mortified to see me at her prom! She certainly would never have danced with me.
I was a bit green with envy until I realized that their daughters most likely did not have a date. My daughter is gorgeous and has never needed to rely upon me to take her to a social function. She has had her choice of boys begging to take her to dances. She now has an amazing husband who is smitten with her.
So, how should you respond if a narcissistic parent wants to be your best friend?
The other day my mother texted me and told me that next to Jesus, she was my best friend.
I looked at that text for a moment and pondered how to respond. My mother is NOT my best friend, she is my mother. After a moment of reflection, I texted her back and told her my brother was my best friend, not her. She then said for me not to steal my brother from her because he was her best friend!
I contemplated that complexity and then texted back and told her I thought my brother could have many best friends. He is just that great!
That seemed to soothe her.
The defining characteristic of a narcissistic parent is that they use or live through their children.
One of the aspects that I like about Proverbs 22:6 is that it says train a child up in the way they should go. Implying that they are to leave and develop their own identity.
Stay tuned! My next post will be on the second sign of a Narcissistic parent.
Do you have a narcissistic parent? If so, what are your thoughts on this? Do you see signs of narcissism in your parenting?