This has been a topic that I am seriously passionate about. Being the mother of four children myself, I understand the guilt, and worry, that keeps all moms awake at night, as we lie in bed thinking of all the ways we could have done our job better. Or how we will do it differently tomorrow. This Not-A-Good-Enough-Mom-Syndrome problem becomes a thousand times more painful, when you’re married to a narcissist, and you know, FOR A FACT, that your child is in serious danger of developing narcissistic personality disorder themselves, or becoming the victim of a narcissist, as they grow older.
It’s not all gloom and doom, though, and I’m here to tell you that you CAN keep your kids safe and help them to grow up perfectly healthy, in spite of living with a narcissist. It takes work and time and attention, but as the amazing mothers that you are, I know you’re up for the challenge.
in my first post, I wrote about laying the foundation for healing, and in my second post, I talked about a vital life-skill that your child absolutely needs to know, if they are going to break the cycle of abuse, but one that most parents aren’t teaching their children. In my third post, I wrote about healing past pain from the effects of narcissistic abuse. Today, I want to cover the miscellany. The little, daily things that you can do, to dramatically influence your child(ren) in the direction of health and healing. Some of these suggestions are of a spiritual nature, but aren’t particularly affiliated with any specific religion, or creed. Feel free to take what you like, or that you feel is of value to you, and leave the rest 🙂 You won’t hurt my feelings…I promise.
One of the best things you can do for your child, whether in a narcissistic relationship, or not, is be present with them. Meaning, when you’re with them…be with them. Don’t think about what is n the calendar for tomorrow, or what you’re going to be having for dinner. Be interested in whatever it is they want to tell you. Show them that what they have to say has value, and therefore, that THEY have value. This boosts their self-esteem in ways that are immeasurable.
LOVE THEM- UNCONDITIONALLY… (AND, BACK OFF THE CRITICISM)
I don’t mean that to sound harsh, honestly. I know that, as parents, we feel it is our job to correct our children, when they are doing things they do not serve them well (and it is!), but I’d like to put forth a theory, that perhaps might sound a little crazy at first, but maybe, after thinking on it for a while, you might find that it makes perfect sense to you, as it does to me.
Being the child of a narcissist means growing up feeling as though you don’t really exist. That you have no value passed what makes you useful to the narcissist. This is such a painful, and soul-raping, experience for an innocent child.THIS is how the narcissist was created in the first place! But…understand, that the cycle does NOT have to repeat. You can do something different, and that it to give your child the space, and time, to heal their wounds, and figure out that they have value.
STOP CRITICIZING! If your child already is showing narcissistic tendencies, then the WORST thing you can do is criticize that child, and point out every, little thing they do wrong. What your child desperately NEEDS, RIGHT NOW, THIS VERY SECOND, is unconditional love. Lots and lots, and lots of it. The more you criticize, the tougher the false self of your child can become.
Now, I’m not saying ‘Don’t discipline” your kids. That is part of their feelings of safety and security. Having good, healthy, parental boundaries keep kids feeling safe in their world, which is an amazingly good thing because, I can promise you, if they’ve been living with a narc, then they almost definitely have a very hostile/unfriendly world-view. You can help them to change that by showing them consistent rules and boundaries- WITHOUT having to point out everything they do wrong.
Take them time to point out everything that they do RIGHT, instead. And, you may ask, Won’t that make them even MORE narcissistic?” , and the answer is NO!
It’s a HUGE misconception that narcissists have too much self-esteem. They don’t. In reality, the narcissist actually feel incredibly worthless. Narcissists are self-loathing, which is WHY they had to create their “perfect” false self. To cover up their painful feelings of inferiority. The better you children feel about themselves- in other words, the more THEY LOVE THEMSELVES- the more ALL bad behaviors will DISAPPEAR. So show your kids, with actions, and words, and hugs and kisses and praise, ALL of the things that they are doing RIGHT! Show them how PROUD you are of their achievements. Help them to love themselves.
Think about it…a person who loves themselves, would not act out in ways that are disrespectful to themselves, or others. People who love themselves, don’t allow themselves to knowingly make decisions that are likely to hurt themselves, or others. People who love themselves, love others, too…. and it SHOWS!
RE-ATTACH TO YOUR CHIL(REN) BY STARTING A HEALING PROJECT
OK… This is an idea that I just came up with, about a month ago, after reading a book titled Happier At Home, by Gretchen Ruben (author of The Happiness Project). One of the issues of a narcissist, is his inability to attach to another person, thereby creating a connection to that person, and creating the space to love. One of the most vital aspects, of a child’s upbringing, that determines how well-adjusted that child will be, is how well that child attached to, at least, one of his/her parents. The child of a narcissistic parent will not attach to the narcissist. The narc doesn’t have the ability to do that.
Unfortunately, as the wives of narcissists, and the victims of unspeakable abuse, we often lack the presence to attach to our children properly. This sin’t to say that we are bad mothers- NOT AT ALL. But dealing with what we have to deal with is exhausting- and it takes a lot of our attention. Some days it takes all of our strength just to survive, let alone be expected to act like Super-Mom, on top of that. I’m not judging you, sisters. Not one bit. And I’m NOT trying to tell you that you messed up. This is NOT your fault.
The fact still remains, though, that your child might not be as attached as they need to be, or could be, if you were forced to spend a lot of time trying to survive abuse. And so, it’s time to rectify that, now that we have a better understanding of what has been happening to us, and as we develop better coping strategies.
So, how do you go about carrying out a Healing Project? Well, you pick one area of your life, every month, and resolve to start implementing 3-5 small actions, that will bring you more peace, joy, and love, in that area. For example, I like my home to be nice and clean, and well decorated, because to me, it gives my home a feeling of warmth, and family, and it’s nice spending time together in an environment that has good, clean energy. A clean, well-organized home, allows for energy to move about more freely, for sure, so my first month’s project is Making Our House A Home. I took ideas from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and decided to implement. For the first week of this month, we are going through all our clothes and toys. We are putting every, single article of clothing in a big pile on my office floor. I’d do it in the living room, but I don’t want to hear any noise from Mr. Snarky Narc, and besides, doing it in my office gives the kids and I the ability to just shut the door, and have private time…which is that whole point.
From there, we go through all the clothing, towels, sheets, blankets, hats, shoes, etc., one article at a time. I sit by my child’s pile, and they sit by mine. I hold up an article of their clothing and I ask them, “Does this spark joy for you?” If they answer ‘Yes’, the article stays. If they say ‘No’, the article of clothing gets tossed in a bag for donation. (*Unless it is a school uniform, or some other article that must be kept.)
The question itself, “Does this spark joy?”, is funny…especially when asked in an ultra-serious voice, with matching expression. LOL. This even inspires reluctant (at first) giggles from the older kids, and after a few times, they totally relax into the process. I take it a step further by asking them questions about why they like certain articles of clothing- like if it has a logo, I ask if that is a band they like, and why they like it.Or if it’s a sports team who their favorite player is and why. Try asking open-ended questions, to get them talking, and really listen to their answers. Even if you can only spend 15 minutes a day on this project, be intensely present during those 15 minutes. Don’t judge, or complain, or criticize, or correct, or involve negativity OF ANY KIND during this time.
Do this, and watch how quickly your child (yes, even teenagers) starts to look forward to this time together with you. Just remember to keep it light and fun and ABSOLUTELY NEGATIVITY (AND NARCISSIST) FREE! Once we are done with the clothing, we will move on to toys, then books, then “papers”, electronics, kitchen crap, then other miscellany. We will save ‘pictures’ for last, where we’ll go through all the pictures in our home and maybe create a scrapbook- or digital scrapbook- together, with the best pictures. but you can choose whatever you like. Eventually, we will go through every “thing” in our house. Then, the next project will be to re-decorate and organize, where will we focus on only decorating with items that “spark joy” in our home.
Some other month’s projects are: Laughing more/Having more fun (hobbies, maybe start a hobby together), Loving the Self More (learning about self-care, and implementing more self-care habits in our life), Education (learning about things that we are passionate about- learning a new language, learning about building things, or whatever), Friends (making new friends, scheduling more consistent time with friends).
Find out what areas in your life that will bring you more joy and peace and healing….and create projects and resolutions to go with them. Make this time absolutely not cancel-able for you, but don’t force your kids to be there, if they really don’t want to. You want this to be time that they really look forward to… not time they feel obligated to be involved with.
Most of all, give your child hugs, every day. Lots of them, no matter how old they are. Hug them when they do something right. Hug them when they do something wrong. Tell them that you love them- a hundred times a day…when they do something right, when they do something wrong. Tell them that there is nothing they can do to EVER lose your love. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS THE ONLY VIBRATION THAT CAN HEAL NARCISSISTIC ABUSE. When you unconditionally love yourself, that you will heal from the abuse you’ve endured.
When you love your child, you help them heal from the abuse they’ve been exposed to…
I hope that you’ve gained value from this series. IF there is something I’ve forgotten, or tips that you can share, PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!
As always, I love you, Sister…
~The Narcissist’s Wife