Narcissistic Adult Children

I get a lot of requests from people that
watch my videos to talk about narcissistic adult children so that’s
what I’m gonna do in this video. And I can tell you right from the top that
having an adult child who is a narcissist is incredibly painful and it
is not easy to deal with but let me make a little bit of a distinction here. So
people often call people that they see as selfish narcissist. Selfishness is a
narcissistic trait. When somebody is selfish it means they’re self-centered
and they can only see themselves, but being selfish does not make a person an
actual narcissist. So there’s two things that parents are
dealing with here. One: There may be people that have extremely selfish,
self-centered, entitled adult children who act very selfishly in that
relationship. The second is that there are those who actually have adult
children with what is called narcissistic personality disorder. Now
the difference is those with narcissistic personality disorder
will not just be this way with you as their mom and dad, but they’re that way
with everyone. They’re narcissists in their marriage, as a parent, as a child, as
an employee, as a friend. It’s what is called pervasive–in all
relationships–doesn’t change depending on who the relationship is with. So that
might help you in looking at whether or not the root of this behavior is in the
relationship with you or if it’s literally how this other person is wired,
because when somebody has a personality disorder that’s truly what it means. It
means that that person is wired that way. That’s the way the brain functions. That’s the way the world is viewed. That’s the way this person operates. Okay?
And if that person has a narcissistic personality disorder,
it means that they will have at least five of the following: grandiose sense of
self-importance where they exaggerate their own abilities and they expect to
be recognized as superior so they feel very much better than others; fantasies
of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. This is from the
DSM IV which is the the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness. The
next one is a belief that they are special or unique and should only
associate themselves with special people. They require excessive admiration. They
feel entitled and deserve what they deserve–that they should get special
treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations. They exploit other
people to achieve their own ends and here’s a big one: They lack empathy and
are completely unable to empathize with another person’s experience or feelings
or pain. They’re envious of others; believe others are envious of them and
they are arrogant and haughty in attitude and behavior. Now at least five of those. Now
I know probably difficult for you to go back through and see what all of those
are but those would be the narcissist personality. So whether you’re
dealing with a narcissistic personality or an adult child that is just extremely
demanding, extremely self-centered, extremely entitled, the outcome in that
relationship with you is probably going to be–I’m going to guess–about the same.
Here’s probably how it goes because this is what’s been explained to me. You have
an adult child who feels very entitled, who expects things to be a certain way.
They’re very demanding of you: what you do, how you do it, when you do it, what
you’re allowed to do, what you’re not, allowed to do, and if you do something
wrong or do you deviate a little or you make a mistake or you say the wrong
thing. you’re cut off; you’re punished; you’re not allowed to
see the grandchildren; you’re not allowed to come over; you’re not allowed to have
them anymore Maybe you’re punished for a month
or two or three. You’re not allowed to call them and you constantly have these
this people–and it could be your child and spouse or it could just be your
child–that is doing this and the spouse is trying to work with you to not have
it happen. So what you’ve got is somebody who’s basically kind of terrorizing you
and using your grandchildren as pawns and you’re trying as best you can to do
what’s right and still maintain a relationship with your grandchildren.
It’s a very difficult place to be in. So where does that all come from? Well if
you’ve got a child who’s got a narcissistic personality disorder
that’s what narcissists do. They demand that their wishes are complied with. If
you don’t do it their way, they cut you off, they punish you, they become very
cold, they become distant ,and they’re great at cut off. Cutting off their
relationship, having nothing to do with you, acting as if you don’t exist,
favoring someone else. Maybe they do this and they manipulate. If you’re divorced
from that person’s father or mother, he might–that person, your child–might cut
you off and then move closer toward the other parent kind of in response like
okay, if you don’t do what I want you to do and this person does and I’m gonna
warm up to this person and I’m gonna distance myself from you. That makes it
hurt even more. So narcissists are moody. They’re difficult to deal with. They
don’t care about your feelings. They’re unaware or unconcerned with whether or
not you’re hurt. They make it very difficult for you to say no. The relationship
operates on their terms. There’s no room for negotiation, explanation,
there’s no room for you to give a different perspective, to explain you
know what you meant or what you did or that you didn’t mean it that way.
It just is what it is and boom that’s you. You’re gonna get the cut off
and the consequence. The narcissist does not look at himself or herself and see
problems. The narcissist is not willing to
cooperate, not willing to work with you, not willing to figure things out and
resolve them and really doesn’t even recognize your boundaries or the
appropriateness or inappropriateness of what is being done. It hurts.
There’s no other way about it but to say how hurtful and painful that is.
Number one for a child that comes from your own body that you have raised and
given your life to to turn on you and to be willing to cut you off or to punish
you–especially when it’s unfair, it’s unreasonable, you haven’t done anything
wrong–you’ve been trying and it is manipulative. I have grandchildren. I love
those grandchildren to death. I would be heartbroken if those grandchildren were
ripped away from me and you know it’s not good for them either because
grandchildren have a special bond with grandparents and they
want to see them and that is putting the children as pawns. What do you do? Now you
know we talked about the why. We’ve talked about the problem. What’s the
solution? I’m going to be honest with you. There are certain parts of this that you
have absolutely no control over. You cannot control the narcissist’s thoughts,
cannot control the narcissist’s feelings. You cannot control the
narcissist’s actions. You cannot control what the narcissist chooses to do, but
you can choose how you conduct yourself with the narcissist.
So you want to get stronger within you. You want to not go to the narcissist for
approval, agreement, validation. You don’t want to explain things to the narcissist.
You don’t want to try to get the narcissist to care about your feelings.
One of the best things that you can do with the narcissist is you can appeal to
the narcissist’s narcissistic behavior or self-image
and or this narcissist’s image that is wanting to be portrayed. Make it in the
best interest of the narcissist. So instead of saying, “You’re so cruel to cut
the children off. I didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t punish me.” Doesn’t get you
anywhere. In fact, it might even make you seem weak and more pathetic to the
narcissist which will breed increased contempt. You want to say, “I know you’re a
good dad. I know you’re a good mom. I know you care about the children. I know that
you want what’s in the best interest of the children and you wouldn’t let
something that I’ve done or that’s come between us
hurt your children, so I I think you know I’d like to ask you to you know do
what’s right as a good dad because you are a good dad.” What right you’re doing
there sounds manipulative and it kind of is
but the outcome and the motive is healthy. You are appealing to the
narcissist’s narcissistic nature to do the right thing in a way that the narcissist
is most likely to respond to or you might want to say, “I know you don’t want
the family to know that there’s a problem, or “I know you don’t want the
family to know that there’s internal turmoil, or “I know you don’t want
outsiders to know about what’s going on.” Not bribing that you’re gonna tell but
just say for instance when the kids aren’t around other family members
noticed the grandkids aren’t around. So you want to learn to validate yourself.
You know, okay this hurts. I didn’t do anything wrong. I made the right choice
so that you won’t feel overly guilty and overly bad. If you need help with self-
validation, find an outside counselor, friend, somebody else who knows the
situation and can recognize the patterns to help you validate. You want to just
totally give up trying to make that a narcissistic child validate your
feelings and needs. Don’t waste your time; it’s not going to happen. Again
like I said, appeal to that person in a way that makes that person look
good, feel good, and do the best thing for the kids. Take care of your own needs. You
are going to have to get strong and you are going to have to find ways to
fulfill yourself that do not focus only on how this narcissistic child treats
you. If you got a narcissistic adult child who has a tendency to punish and
pull grandkids away at a whim,, you need a life. You need a life that includes more
than your grandkids, more than your child. There are a lot of things that are fun
and interesting and enjoyable that are not necessarily just things with our
grandkids, so go build a life, get strong, have things that you enjoy so when
those times are rocky and that child kind of pulls away, you’ll still have a
full life that you enjoy. Identify the things in you that make you vulnerable,
you know what gets you tripped up with the narcissist? What makes you grovel? What
makes you react in a way that the narcissist then uses against you? What
helps you to be detached? What helps you to stay calm? What helps you to step back
and make good decisions and or to stay standing in your own truth? Look at it.
Look how you’re affected. What are your weak points? What are your fears?
What easily guilts you? You want to identify the narcissistic behaviors that
this adult child does to you so you’ll see them and when you see them,
you’ll recognize them and so they’ll be less shocking, less painful, and you’ll be
more prepared to respond to them in a in a good way for you. So is it the coldness?
Is it the cold stare? Is it the hanging up on the phone? Is it the not calling
you? Is it saying something good about
your ex-spouse, throwing it in your face? Is it going to your ex-spouse and doing
something and talking about how nice it is to be with that parent instead of you
and how that parent you know is good to the kids and good to him? I mean, what is
it that the narcissist does that triggers a lot of stuff in you? So you
can be prepared. You want to set clear boundaries. They’re gonna have to be some
boundary areas. I’m sorry, but that is going to protect you. You cannot have no
boundaries with the narcissist. Now there’s–I’ve walked this road with
friends and with clients and to some extent in my own life, what you have to
do is you have to say, “Okay, what’s the prize here?” the prize is mostly your
grandchildren, secondly your adult child. Your goal is to maintain a relationship,
not to change your adult child because you can’t, but to try to maintain a
relationship for your sake for the grandkids sake, so you’re gonna have kind
of some wiggle room here. It’s not going to be like a normal relationship where
no matter what you’re not going to, you know, do anything to give in or anything
you know at all to comply or go along with things. There’s going to be a little
wiggle room. Sometimes you’re going to do something you don’t want to do just
because that’s going to save that opportunity to be with your grandkids.
Then there are going to be things that you just can’t do. These are gonna be bottom
line, I can’t go that far. I’m not going to tell you what those are. You’re going
to know what those are that’s going to be that area of the no go zone and
there’s gonna be times you’re gonna have to be assertive and you’re gonna have to
state that other times you’re going to be able to overlook things. So that’s
what you’re gonna have to figure out and the same thing with any other difficult
person. Use all your repertoire of skills. When that person says something to get
you to react, detach and don’t react. When that person says the same thing over and
over again, change the subject. When that person
accuses, you don’t bite the hook. When that person blames you, don’t take it on.
All of the things that you do with any difficult person can be done also with
this adult child who is narcissistic. Now, I would have to say something for this
generation and I’ll do a video on this soon, we have in the United States a just
absolute crisis of entitlement where people feel entitled to things that they
have not earned and unfortunately that is also affecting our adult children to
where they feel entitled to demand things from us as parents that we would
have never even asked in a million years our parents to do one generation before,
so keep that in mind and just be willing to make a stand and do what you know is
right and not give in to demands that sprang from entitlement in our adult
children. So I hope that this has helped you. I should say with this that there
are times that you have to be the one who chooses to sever for a time, for a
season, a relationship with a really narcissistic toxic adult child. You
cannot allow somebody to invade your life to the point where it destroys you.
You have to be willing to protect yourself. So in extreme circumstances,
that is a last resort. So if you have any more questions on this or thoughts or if
you found this really helpful, I’d really love to hear from you. Please
email me or write a comment on this video. I do get those comments and I will
check them and respond to you. So I hope you found this helpful. I hope that this
has clarified this topic for you and I hope you’ll watch more videos on Change
My Relationship. Thank you!

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