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Adult children of narcissistic parents: Parenting your own children

(31 Posts)
GoodtoBetter Wed 27-Aug-14 15:08:32


I have just (a week ago) gone NC with my narc mother after I reached my limit of abuse, manipulation and vitriol. My father was an alcoholic and died some years ago.
I'm just about to embark on some psychotherapy about all this and trying to protect my relationships with my own children (terror of turning into her) and wondered if anyone wanted to talk about issues involved with parenting your own kids when one or both of your parents have been this personality type.

MillyDots Wed 27-Aug-14 15:18:20

Hi. It made me a better Mum. I became the Mum I always wanted for

hamptoncourt Wed 27-Aug-14 15:21:35

Hello good I have matching parents, narc mother, dead alcoholic father.

I am so very different from my mother I don't think I have ever feared turning into her or parenting like her. If anything I parent the opposite to her.

Is your mother the engulfing manipulating type or the ignoring detached type?

Mine is an engulfing toxic mass of venom and I am NC with her. Any time I have a major issue with the DC I probably do check myself just to make sure I am not doing anything she might do. I don't manipulate situations or lie to them to suit myself. I am never a martyr, that is probably the behaviour I find the most nauseating, even though it isn't her worst trait.

I very much doubt you are parenting your children like your mother did. Would it help to explain?

The only major advice I an give you is never ever let her anywhere near your DC. I made that mistake and she has poisoned my relationship with my DD almost to breaking point. Just for fun of course.

HumblePieMonster Wed 27-Aug-14 15:21:54

I'm better than my mum but far from perfect.

Poofus Wed 27-Aug-14 15:22:16

It's very, very hard so far. Wish I could say the same as Milly but I'm not there yet. The book "Growing Up Again: parenting ourselves, parenting our children" (IIRC) has helped me think lots of it through, though.

noddyholder Wed 27-Aug-14 15:22:30

Same as millydots I knew as young as 11 or 12 that her parenting was all wrong and I vowed to allow my children if I ever had any to be themselves without judgement or bullying and that is what I have done. In fact I think having my ds and being the parent I am was like a healing for all the abuse(eventually)

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 27-Aug-14 15:28:18

You've already got one significant advantage OP which is that you are self aware. Bullies and other abusive people, whether narcissistic or not, rarely are. You will not turn into your mother because you are not her already. Your biggest risk, from personal experience, is over-compensating. You don't want 'vitriol' when dealing with children but you still need to enforce boundaries or you end up with spoilt brats.

If I have a tip it's to identify good parents among people you know and try to model your approach on a combination of them. BTW... expect to get it wrong. That's OK too smile Good luck

GoodtoBetter Wed 27-Aug-14 15:31:29

Oh, I wasn't sure if I'd get any replies!

Hampton my kids are 6 and 3 and sometimes I really struggle with the 6 yo (DS) Feel I'm too hard on him and blow up at him and shout and sometimes even smack, which makes me feel shitter than shit. I apologise afterwards and explain it was wrong of me to do that but it should never happen in the first place.
The 6 yo can be a real drama queen sometimes and since he was tiny has had this thing about pushing boundaries. The drama and the not being able to let something go remind me of my Dm sometimes and it worries me.
My DM is the engulfing, manipulative type.It's taken me 2 years from beginning to see her for what she was to understanding neither I nor the DCs can ever see her again. It's difficult atm as she lives 5 mins away, although she has threatened to move v far away since NC and I'm hoping she will carry out that threat.
She also had favourites, with DS 6 being the fave and DD (3) being ignored.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 27-Aug-14 15:38:08

If you've got a 6yo that goes in for annoying attention-seeking behaviour, it could be that you have to try something completely different. One on one time, special projects, giving him extra responsibilities at home that reflect that he is the eldest, more independence. If you reward good behaviour with the extra attention he craves he might not resort so much to dramatics.

I'd be wary of thinking of him as a mini DM as it will cause you to deal with him very negatively. Children who play up are not the same as disruptive childish adults.

losthermind Wed 27-Aug-14 15:40:47

I have had absolutely no contact with my narc mother in 20 months, came to the conclusion that i no longer had to put up with her narc bullshit, I'm nearing 30 years old and have 2 beautiful children whom she also tried to damage. They took their own decision to have no more contact with her after she physically assaulted my son while he stayed the night at hers. I no longer have the anxiety or the feeling of being inferior to her. I have come to my own conclusion that I am obviously a much nicer person than she is, she knows it and hates it. My DC know I'm not perfect but I am nothing like her

Meerka Wed 27-Aug-14 18:32:04

hiya good

I think that those of us with ... interesting ... parents are at risk of this yeah and at risk of either going too far the other way or replicating some behaviours.

Self-awareness is a good first step. Not wanting to be the same sort of parents is the 2nd good step. But it's still not a guarentee. There is a risk (and people who do have good parents are not guarenteed to get it right either, I guess!).

For me Im afraid of, well, quite a lot of things actually - especially since I know for certain that there is the possibility of turning into my biological mother. It's something I'm fighting very hard against and so far (thank god) my stepfather tells me I'm doing it differently. He says I'm much more able to be selfdisciplined that she was.

But the risk is there and when I snap, which I do and occasionally without warning, each time like you I apologise. Even if he's being a little PITA, consistency, warnings and time on the stairs is way better than biting his little head off.

Longer term Im afraid of the danger that he won't have had enough attention and that he will feel responsible for me because (again like my mother at this age sad angry ) I am struggling physically and it's getting worse. (it's bad enough i get a tiny bit of social services help) eg I am sometimes in bed in the evenings and husband has to bring up food, plus put the older one to bed. I'm afraid that the children will look back and realise they were not given enough attention and time and input ... what was that wonderful line someone said, love for children is spelled T I M E.

How to work around things to counteract that, I'm not sure becuase you can keep on on willpower but it only takes you so far, in the end you cannot keep going. The boys' father is wonderful and so is my amazing mother in law, but when someone is chronically not very well in the house 1) the boys' needs do not always come first, which is shitty. We do the best we can to put them first, but it's not always possible and 2) they cannot depend on me the way they should be able to. I can only ever say 'we'll go to the park as long as I'm well enough". They don't have the ability to rely on what will happen, becuase it's health dependent. It is a shitty situation.

I too see traits in the oldest that remind me of my biol. mother and it worries me. But I try to keep in mind that he's a differnt person with different parents and circumstances.

GoodtoBetter Wed 27-Aug-14 18:55:44

Hi Meerka I'm sorry to hear about your physical problems, it sounds like you are doing a great job despite that and as you say, self awareness is part of the battle.
I was talking to Dbro about the way DS behaves worrying me sometimes as it can be a bit like she is and he said, as a PP has said here I think, that there's a difference between a 6 year old tantrumming and a 70-odd year old behaving like a 6 year old.

Meerka Wed 27-Aug-14 19:18:29

funny thing, from what I see/read a lot of pretty awful parents all seem to act like unpleasant 6 year olds, its like they're intent on their own way at all costs and sulk, manipulate and tantrum til they get it!

meiisme Wed 27-Aug-14 20:42:02

There was a thread on here last year that really helped me with this: Parenting resources for those raised by narcissists.

GoodtoBetter Wed 27-Aug-14 21:01:08

Thanks meiisme I'll have a look at that now! smile

Meerka Wed 27-Aug-14 21:33:31

ooh, thanks meiisme ordered one already

GoodtoBetter Wed 27-Aug-14 21:43:40

I've ordered playful parenting and am going to read the parenting yourself one on Googlebooks. Thanks!

Aussiebean Thu 28-Aug-14 06:56:39

This is my fear for if / when I have a baby. The destruction my mother has caused in all our lives has affected us and continues to do so. Although I am a lot further along than one of my brothers.

I'm holding on to the fact that I am aware, that I was strong enough to put up boundaries and that I have a wonderful husband who has a great loving family. He knows my fears and constantly tells me that he has no thought that I will ever be like that. And if there is a problem we can always speak about it. I am also a teacher, and I can see that my style if discipline is a tough but fair approach and my students really respect that in me. Another teacher has told me how a class told her I was the meanest teacher but they were all laughing, joking and smiling about it. I just need to be able to translate that to parenthood.

I spoke to one of my brothers (the one who got it almost from the beginning) and he said he sometimes catches himself reacting the way mum used to. It's what he knows. But he sees it and stops it. And makes amends.

Hopefully I will be like that.

And meerka. My husbands mum had ME ( which I think is like cronic fatigue ) when he was 9. She was ill for around 16 years and like you, could only do things if well and then spend a couple of days in bed recovering.

He and his three siblings love and cherish her and don't ever say a horrible word against her or complain about the time she was ill. They knew she did the best she could and love her for it.

When I read you post it reminded me of that and I thought I would share.

Meerka Thu 28-Aug-14 09:13:09

aussie ... thank you. Very much. It's encouraging to hear that, and that your husband turned out so lovely.

Aussiebean Fri 29-Aug-14 02:44:00

I count my lucky stars everyday that I have him Meerka and his mum is very lovely.

When he first really began to understand what my mum was like he told me that I can have his. grin

sleepywombat Fri 29-Aug-14 02:56:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GoodtoBetter Fri 29-Aug-14 07:47:31

Well maybe it's not that odd. I've thought a lot about this. Maybe the narc is so empty inside they're drawn to another empty person, or maybe the dysfunction attracts? I don't know.

Aussiebean Fri 29-Aug-14 08:16:34

My dad was an enabler. Heard stories from family friends about how desperate he was to try and make my mother happy. In hind sight we know know it wasn't possible.

He did stick up for us but that was only after things got bad. His dad was probably the same as mum so he grew up being conditioned to please that type of personality.

When mum divorced him I think he came out if his shell. Pity he died a few years later.

Meerka Fri 29-Aug-14 08:31:43

you wonder if the alcoholic helps create the other, poisonous parent or if the poisonous parent helps create the alcoholic ... or a bit of both. I'm certain that some people are just bad for each other. With anyone else they might have been ok, but the chemistry goes very wrong and they drag each other down.

Mind you some people are bad for anyone else!

GoodtoBetter Fri 29-Aug-14 08:49:31

I do wonder that. It's hard to make any sense now as he's long dead, with no brothers or sisters and she did the whole parental alienation thing I've read abour, made him out to be the devil incarnate.
He lost his mother at a young age and as his father worked abroad for long periods he went to boarding school. Clearly then drawn to a similarly damaged person (DM had a terrible rl with her own mother). Maybe he was.drawn to her controlling personality?
<accepts honorary degree in armchair psychology>

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