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Parenting resources for those raised by narcissists

(157 Posts)
buildingmycorestrength Fri 29-Mar-13 20:17:12

Hi, I've been over on Herrena's 'regale me with hilarious/ridiculous things your narcissist has said or done' thread. I had a narc dad and when I became a parent I had a lot of problems dealing with...um...everything to do with children! I was frightened of my child, got angry easily, had no idea what was normal.

I think this pretty standard for people who grew up in dysfunctional families...and I turned to books for help. Like I always do .

I read some books that didn't help much at all. Unconditional parenting books were great in some ways because they focused so much on loving and caring, which were hard for me and didn't come naturally. BUT I had no common sense to temper them with partly because of not having much experience with children but also because of not really knowing about normal boundaries. I ended up with a three-year-old tyrant which didn't work at all. grin

Then I went to parenting classes, which were really incredibly helpful. Specifically I was on a course called 'Raising Children' which dealt with assertiveness, what children need, boundaries, and much more.

From there, I ended up watching the 123 Magic DVD. My husband and I watched this together, and I dithered a lot about it all, but can honestly say I think it saved our family. A very gentle discipline system that is practical, friendly, and works. The DVD is really funny too. I also have the book for backup.

I found two other books really helpful as well. Playful Parenting by Larry Cohen gave me really concrete strategies for playing and connecting with my kids (and how to deal with boring play). Buddhism for Mothers was also really helpful for general mindfulness practice. (I'm not a Buddhist, by the way, am actually a church goer- but loved this book.)

These three resources work really well together...123 Magic focuses on behaviour, Playful Parenting on connection, and Buddhism for Mothers on getting my own head right. I don't think I could be trusted to follow one book, because of not really knowing the common sense limits to what they are saying. So I usually take bits from several and sort of patch them together.

Full disclosure: I also had group therapy and individual therapy, both focused on CBT.

I'd be really interested to hear if others from dysfunctional families or with narcissistic parents in particular, have found their own helpful resources for parenting.

buildingmycorestrength Sun 07-Apr-13 18:37:53

On nurturing.

Because of my psychological history, I had a problem in my relationship with my son which meant I felt like we weren't really bonded. When he was about 6, I read an Oliver James's article on love bombing and tried it and it helped sooooooo much. It was really hard, because the idea is you just let the child take control and bombard them with affection for a weekend. It was very difficult because obviously all my resentment came up..."No one is love bombing me!" But I was sufficiently better to deal with it.

It was amazing and helped a lot. Google it if you are interested. Actually, I haven't googled it lately so who knows what you'll find....

redwellybluewelly Sun 07-Apr-13 18:58:18

Checking in for this thread, I've watched and read most of the regale me one but still coming to terms with full nc with my mother and sister.

I try incredibly hard to be a better mum to my daughter (and soon to be two children, due #2 in June) but there are days I simply do not have the parenting resources to work out how I should be handling my toddler.

My mother was extremely angry with me as a child and used violence on many many occasions. I was terrified of her. My father however was just incredible but now I wonder why he didn't protect me more. I should add my mother never laid a finger on my younger sister and gas lighting is a way of . So my default reaction to being kicked or hit would have been to instantly retaliate

yellow - yes, as far as the reduced contact is concerned, don't initiate, just be there for them when they need you. Or, if you don't feel comfortable with that, there is a different way.

How many times do you initiate contact, say on a weekly basis?
If you contacted them on a daily basis, for example, you could cut down to every other day , then after a while cut down to twice a week, once during the week and once during the weekend, whatever is manageable to you.

yellowhousewithareddoor Sun 07-Apr-13 20:46:04

I think I text each of them about twice a week with a suggestion that is usually replied with, 'I think I'll pass'. Or occasionally call if we're passing. They're only 5 mins away. Its usually rejected hence the second attempt. Some weeks its less.I stayed in Friday pm as he'd said he was coming over and texted him at 1 to say we were in. At 5 he replied that he didn't need to come over after all as he'd already dropped x off. So we'd waited in.

He is really good with girls when he does see them though. he almost has no sense of any one else's needs at all. He'll purelyonly does something if he feels like it or wants to.

I need something to fill that hole in our life!

buildingmycorestrength Mon 08-Apr-13 13:40:33

yellow I think distracting yourself with other activities is a good idea, and also empowering! How nice to be able to sat, "Can't pop by, sorry, we'll be at swimming.'

It is very hard with small children. I bet there are other people near you who'd love to come for a play date one afternoon.

buildingmycorestrength Wed 10-Apr-13 20:03:13

alright yellow?

Have been thinking that one of the best parenting resources for people raised by narcs is ... Mumsnet! It helps me answer that question "What do normal people do?" over and over.

I also rely heavily on RL friends who 'get it'. And largely drift away from those who don't.

Midwife99 Wed 10-Apr-13 20:12:48

Yes same here. People on MN saying no that wasn't ok & also recognising patterns with their narcs & mine.

Agreed smile

MN is a life saver, soul saver, and sanity saver. Everything rolled into one smile

bunchofposy Mon 15-Apr-13 19:11:00

Hi there, I have been lurking on this thread, thanks for the resources! I have now read 'will I ever be good enough' and have just ordered 'the emotionally absent mother'. I am also reading 'they f*ck you up' for the second time.

It is only since having a child (now 3) that I have realised the extent of my issues with my mother. I am basically loved by my parents, and think they were probably quite good with us when we were very young, though my mum has admitted she was depressed after I (her last DC) was born, and I have always been oversenstive to her moods. But from the age of about eight I think I started experiencing the benign neglect someone mentioned above. I grew up to be so clueless about how to look after myself and have really struggled with quite basic things. I have never felt able to confide in her about anything, and have severely lacked a mentor figure all my life.

I get so stressed out by visits from my mum, or visits to their house, that it makes me physically ill sometimes. I lie awake for hours the night after they have left going over all the things she has said to me. Every little thing comes across as a covert criticism. She seems to be getting worse as I get older - or maybe I am just more aware of it. I end up feeling deflated and exhausted, and angry (and ranting to DH).

I am not sure where I am going with this post except that I have never written it down and feel I need to! I am enquriring into therapy, as I am expecting DC2, and this all blew up hugely after my first child was born (then subsided) and I am worried the same thing is going to happen again, as I am pretty sure it was a sort of depression.

Thanks for reading, and I am sorry you are all in a similar boat, needing these books like me.

bunchofposy Mon 15-Apr-13 19:16:10

Forgot to say that it is so important to me that my DD feels loved and able to confide in me in the way that I never could with my mum. The scariest thing about reading 'will I ever be good enough' was realising that as the daughter of someone with narcissistic tendencies, I probably have them too. That's what I really need to ensure isn't the case long term, more than anything I think.

SquidgyMummy Tue 16-Apr-13 07:32:22

Great thread, Have not had a chance to read all of it, but after reading sample and reviews on amazon, have ordered: Parenting Ourselves book.

I'm in my 40's and struggle even now with my relationship with my parents (won't bore you with the details,) but am so desperate to break the patterns so that I don't F* up my 2 year-old. I just so often don't know what to do (usually too permissive) as I end up doing the opposite of what my strict, angry mother did.

Trying to find the middle path!! (Must dig out my copy of Buddhism for mothers after all the recommendations!!)

buildingmycorestrength Tue 16-Apr-13 10:01:21

Hello all!

I was also too permissive. Have a look at 123 Magic, really...a parent liaison health visitor type person lent the DVD to me. Fantastic.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sun 26-May-13 01:09:40

I know this thread is a wee bit lapsed but hoping anyone still around...

Just wanted to say reading this was so so insightful for me, lots of really valuable stuff, thank you all.

I have learnt that:

There is a name for two of my secret shames...

Foreshortened future - it makes me feel alot better that this is a 'thing' not just me being crap. Just voicing this, naming this, gives me hope.

Self neglect - I cover it up well(ish) but yea yes and yes... Worried I am passing this down to Ds too.

Boundaries I know I'm going to have a problem with as Ds gets older, also being too permissive, I totally adopt all of playful parenting and as yet haven't had to 'tell him off' more than maybe 2-3 times ever.

Anyway, thanks so much for this thread.

meiisme Sat 20-Jul-13 23:47:16

The "lovely stuff parents did for you thread" (discussions of the day) has been playing on my mind for a few days, and made me think of this thread.

I want to be that parent, who does the small kind things and who creates loving rituals for their children. But I find it so hard without a role model. Not only because I have to invent them all myself, but also because of the resentment about being the one who has to organise it, to always be the one in charge and giving.

Building, I remember you felt rejected when you didn't get much of a response when you raised that issue. I'm further in therapy now and think I'm closer to dealing with that feeling. But how?! Does anybody want to discuss again?

SnoopyLovesYou Sun 21-Jul-13 03:22:49

Thanks for this thread. Just ordered 1,2,3.

To the last poster, it IS hard not to feel anger/resentment sometimes.

Feels good to share these feelings too!

buildingmycorestrength Sun 21-Jul-13 07:38:29

Oooh! Hello again all!I had been wondering about this thread lately and it had fallen off my TIO list.

Welcome one and all. More later.

GoodtoBetter Sun 21-Jul-13 16:23:56

Been lurking and it's all very interesting. I was wondering if anyone has any views/experience of an engulfing narcissitic mother. I've recently (in the last 6 months or so) stopped living with mine and gone much lower contact (you can't get much more contact than living together smile now see her twice a week for an hour or so, on my terms, in my place of choice...almost never in my house).
Mine wasn't abusive physically or neglectful but has spent her entire life gatecrashing mine, following me when I moved abroad, ending up guilting me into living with her then trying to break up my marriage. Totally somthering/controlling/needy/entitled/making me feel responsible for her (impossible to achieve) happiness, all in the guise of us being "close" IYSWIM. Took me a long time to work out what was happening.
Is there anything I can read that is specifically about engulfing narcissists? Anyone who meets my mum usually thinks she's great and that we get on really well.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers is a website which has information on engulfing narcissistic mothers.

GoodtoBetter Sun 21-Jul-13 16:35:21

Thanks Attila, there is some on that (excellent) website. I just wondered if there were other resources specifically dealing with the engulfing aspect as I've found that hard to deal with, weirdly. It's like I have to keep reminding myself of the AWFUL things she has done (I had a couple of long threads on here when it was all going on), because she can be really kind sometimes and it's hard to extricate yourself when you've been trained all your life to think of them first. I find myself thinking "oh well she didn't beat me or neglect me". I have to go back and read my threads to remind myself of the awful treatment of DH, the bullying, trying to force DH out, the suicide threats, etc.

meiisme Sun 21-Jul-13 23:20:06

buildingmycorestrength, SnoopyLovesYou, at the moment I am struggling with resentment about day-to-day positive attention for my DC. I let them spend wayyyy too much time behind the computer, because I don't have it in me to be with them emotionally all the time. The last two months have been heavy with soul searching (therapy, WA course, assessment of children's emotional problems, court statements) and if it were up to me, I would spend most of my time alone to take a break from all that stuff

I don't resent my children directly - it is more aimed at some unspecified power that put me in this position - but recently I've noticed that when I push myself to be with them emotionally, it almost becomes a game to withdraw from them when they start to get really into it, because resentment comes up and I want to be on my own again. And that scares me, because it's the kind of bewildering game-playing that feels very unsafe for children. My therapist is telling me to relax (everybody is, to be honest grin) and just focus on one hour of really being with them per day, but I feel very ashamed by how little I interact with them on some days.

When we were talking on this thread around Easter, I felt more resentful about housework and basic child care. After talking it through here, I changed my tack to what I've privately dubbed 'housekeeping from the true self', and that has helped a lot. I focus on what I want now, so do chores that make me feel better about the house instead of the ones which are most necessary in a How Clean Is Your House kind of way. Maybe I can find a similar approach to this day-to-day positive stuff malarkey.

GoodtoBetter, one thing I've learned is to focus on how spending time with people makes me feel, instead of looking at what they're doing. Their actions can be confusing, but your feelings are usually quite clear on whether they are genuinely well-intended or not. One strong mechanism of control my mum set up, was to always contradict me on my feelings and (with that semi-concerned smile that makes me want to stab) tell me that what I thought I was feeling was not what I was really feeling. And that is, I think, designed to stop you from figuring them out. IMHE, anyway wink.

blondieminx Mon 22-Jul-13 00:22:18

Great thread, will be checking out the book recommendations... thanks really interesting thread

GoodtoBetter Mon 22-Jul-13 07:37:54

"designed to stop you figuring them out". yy to that. I'd have said before that I got on v well with my mum, that we were close. She was a bit clingy and difficult sometimes but that we were v close. Since it all happened I feel like I don't know her at all anymore. sad Feel like I can't trust her. Probably trusted her too much before....had no boundaries with her before, you see. That, I suppose is the headfuck of the engulfing narcissist. I was infantilised and parentified all at once. Am terrified of fucking up my own DCs.

buildingmycorestrength Mon 22-Jul-13 09:09:23

Having a bad time at the moment (illness and work, not parents for a change) but thinking of you all and will post more soon as I can.

Small positive interactions w the kids are exhausting at first so don't worry. Baby steps.

I'm basically afraid mine don't/won't like me so don't want to get too close. But I understand rationally that they DO love me, they adore me, my smile is like sunshine to them. So I force a smile, even a really fake one, as often as I can and it helps everyone.

LJL69 Mon 22-Jul-13 09:48:01

123 magic is a personal fave of mine. It can be fiddled with a bit to help when teenagers too.

OnTheNingNangNong Mon 22-Jul-13 10:14:19

Meiisme the way you wrote about your interactions with your children and the game of withdrawal really related to me, I do this with my children and I worry about it.
I've spent most of this morning reading this thread and realising that there may be a small reason why I parent the way I do.

My father seems to have narc tendencies, I always desperately craved his love and attention (my parents split when I was 5) and I never felt good enough for him. I vividly remember him watching the clock, waiting for my mum to come home from work and having a go at her for being two minutes late. I felt crushed that he was only there because he had to be not because he wanted to.

I want to change my ways, I can see the narc tendencies in myself and I need to sort myself out. I've probably damaged the DC enough but I need to change now. For the sake of my family.

Thank you for all the links and books, I hope they will be insightful for me.

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