Dealing with Narcissistic Parents
If you're the child of a narcissistic parent, there are three main steps to take to help you deal with the situation:
Understand how you've been sucked into your parent's game.
Children of narcissistic parents are trapped in a vicious cycle of yearning- disappointment-attempt at change.
Children of narcissists start off with the longing to have their emotional needs met - even a crumble of affection would do. After all, it's a natural instinct to want to be loved by our parents. But when the affection does not come, that's when issues of loss and sadness come in.
Eventually, there comes a desire to change things. The child of the narcissistic parent would plead, lecture, cajole, promise and sometimes attack, just to get their parents to change their ways. But they'll only be disappointed as the narcissist would never change. In disappointment, they'd feel spent and victimized - which would start the cycle over again.
Detach from your parent.
To get yourself out of the vicious cycle, you need to detach from your parent.
Detachment from a narcissist parent is not so much about physical detachment, although many find it helpful to physically stay away from the narcissist. In cases where there is physical or verbal abuse, physical detachment is a must.
The detachment required in recovery is emotional detachment. It's a decision to no longer be reactive to your narcissistic parent. It's a resolve to not let them hurt you anymore, and to not have unrealistic expectations. It's a choice not to play into their games. Only when you've learned to really detach, would you be free to choose your responses.
Detachment is a difficult and painful process. This is especially true since its family that you are detaching from. It's hard to accept that your parent will probably never change, and that you will never have your ideal mom or dad. From that point forward your only choices are let go, and move on. You may still establish a relationship with your parent, but it's always with an eye on protecting yourself first.
To detach successfully, it helps to: learn and understand what narcissism is, acknowledge your pain and loss, and go through the grieving process. If it's possible, detachment is better with genuine forgiveness and empathy.
Once you've detached emotionally from your narcissistic parent, it is now time to rebuild what you have lost. With the recognition that your parent may never be able to provide you with the care and validation that you crave, you must now learn how to supply it to yourself.
Deal with the guilt. Your parent's narcissism is not your fault, and there is nothing wrong with you. Every negative message that you received from them holds no water; it's your parent's pathology which is speaking and not them.
Find ways to re-build your identity. Children of narcissists often do not really know who they are, because they have always been a mere 'extension' of their parent. Explore your talents and interests. Try out your choices. Seek affirmation and support from friends.