Dealing with Abuse

16 Ways to Deal with a Narcissistic Parent

How to Deal with a Narcissistic Parent | Hopeful Panda

If you have a narcissistic parent in your life, it’s important to learn how to deal with them so you can shield yourself from their abuse as much as you can.

I went through a lot of trial and error to learn how to best deal with my narcissistic mother in a way that seems to be the least destructive to my well-being.

Oftentimes, the best course of action is to limit or completely cut contact with your parent. However, that may not always be an option.

Having been raised by a narcissist, I know how hard it is to deal with a narcissistic parent.

Interacting with them almost always ends in anger, frustration, stress, anxiety, disappointment, self-doubt, or self-blame.

It’s hard to deal with them when it seems like they just want to manipulate you and create drama they can feed off of. But it is possible.

This post will cover ways on how to deal with a narcissistic parent and protect yourself from their manipulative tactics.

1. Recognize their tactics and how it works

To be able to deal with your narcissistic parent, you first need to understand them and how they “work”.

Try to understand their behaviors and thinking patterns.

Learn various narcissistic abuse and manipulation tactics by parents and how each one is used to whittle away your self-esteem and sense of reality.

Many narcissists resort to insults, projection, gaslighting, scapegoating, and other tactics to deflect responsibility and personal flaws so they can focus on you instead.

They find a way to make it your fault or your problem.

Once you learn your narcissistic parent’s tactics, you can recognize when they are using one and be better equipped to deal with it.

2. Ground yourself in your own reality

Abusers often gaslight to distort and erode your sense of reality.

“That didn’t happen,” “You imagined it”, or “Are you crazy?” are some gaslighting phrases.

To resist gaslighting, it’s important to ground yourself in your own reality.

Write things down as they happened or tell your experience to someone in your support network.

You can also consider recording the interaction. It can help you be certain that what your parent says about how something didn’t happen or how you imagined something is a lie.

3. Do not internalize what they say

When your narcissistic parent starts to insult, name-call, or project, try to cut the conversation short.

Try not to internalize what they said.

Realize that they are resorting to name-calling because they are deficient in higher-level methods.

And they are using projection because they couldn’t handle their own shortcomings.

Everything they say about you is not about you but about themselves. Once you realize that, you’ll take less of what they say to heart.

I know it is much easier said than done. It’s hard not to feel negative or to take it personally when they verbally attack you and your self-worth.

But remind yourself that everything they do is to feel better about themselves because they’re insecure and oversensitive.

They don’t care about you. They don’t know you. Try not to let them define you.

4. Remember to validate yourself

When the narcissist insults you or tries to constantly nitpick and rehash an irrelevant point over and over again, it’s to tear you down and provoke you into feeling like you have to constantly prove yourself.

Try to validate yourself.

You are enough and you don’t have to prove yourself to them.

Their purpose is to make you feel small. Everything they say about you has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. How they treat you is not your fault.

Recognize that you are worthy. Try to do things that can help you build confidence.

However, it’s probably best to hide whatever it is from your narcissistic parent so they can’t find a way to ruin it for you.

5. Refrain from pointless arguments

It would be easier to avoid having a conversation with the narcissist altogether. But that could make things worse as they may take it negatively and start trouble.

So when speaking with them, go along with what they say or simply nod.

The slightest form of disagreement can tick them off and possibly cause an outburst. If that happens, simply let them continue with their monologuing.

Narcissists thrive off of drama so every time you attempt to provide a point that counters their beliefs, you’re giving them ammo.

Instead of feeding them, tell yourself that they’re the problem, not you. And cut the interaction short.

When the narcissist accuses you of saying or doing something that you didn’t do, simply state “I never said/did that” and walk away.

If that doesn’t work, the best method might be to use the gray rock method. Don’t show any emotions to what they say or do. Ignore them or only respond vaguely using one-word answers or sounds.

Your lack of interest or concern in their behavior as well as your boring, emotionless responses might get them to give up.

6. Accept that they’ll never change

One of the hardest parts of dealing with narcissistic parents is the hope that they will acknowledge their actions, be remorseful, and change for the better.

Unfortunately, most abusers will never change.

You may have found yourself trying time and time again to make your parent realize how hurtful their behavior is only to find them turning it around on you or someone else.

You may have fallen for empty promises or fake acts about how they’re remorseful or sorry only to have them hurt you again.

Try to accept that your narcissistic parent(s) will never change. Try to let go of the possibility that they would.

They are who they are and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Once you can accept that they will never change and will never recognize their actions, it makes it easier to stop trying to reason with them.

Using logic to argue with a narcissist is pointless. To them, only their rationale makes sense and everyone else is wrong.

Once you can let go of trying to change or fix your parent, you will feel less frustration, anger, or disappointment when they fail to own up to their actions or fail to display any form of self-awareness.

7. Don’t cater to their every whim and need

You may feel a lot of pressure to make your parent(s) happy and be the perfect child. You may obey their every command to keep the peace.

But remember, it’s not your job to make them happy or to please them.

Just because they gave birth to you or “gave you life” is irrelevant. You don’t owe them your life. Even if you do, it can never be repaid because they will never be satisfied.

When they make demands, manipulate you into doing something for them, or make threats, stand your ground.

Insist that you will only do something if and when you want to do it and that you will only consider it if they ask nicely and respectfully.

When you do something for them, it is a favor, not an obligation.

Your narcissistic parent might go off the rails or attack you, which is their childish tantrum to get what they want.

This is even more reason to stand your ground and refrain from fulfilling their command.

Giving in to their demands sends the message that their tactics to get you to do whatever they want are working, which means that they’ll just do it again and again.

8. Try to remain calm

Being able to remain calm is essential when learning how to deal with a narcissistic parent.

A lot of what they do is to try to provoke you, to get a reaction out of you. This is known as narcissistic baiting.

And when you react negatively to anything they say, they have a reason to attack or mock you.

If you do feel hurt by their words, try not to show any reaction. They love to see you hurt. It means they have control over your emotions and you.

If you remain indifferent, they might think their words are pointless, so they might do it less.

I know it can be hard to remain calm. But acknowledging that their attacks are just a bait to get a reaction out of you makes it easier to remain calm so they can’t get pleasure from your misery.

Once you’re in a safe space away from the narcissist, work through what you feel.

Remind yourself that everything they say about you is wrong.

It’s okay to feel sad, upset, or angry. It’s normal. You were just attacked. Anyone would feel bad.

Try to remind yourself that this is who they are. They like to argue, make drama, and make you feel bad.

Try not to internalize what they said about you. None of it is about you.

Realize how a lot of the time, words escape their mouths with no filter, logic, or consideration.

If they don’t care or think about what they’re saying, why should you? Try not to place too much importance on their words, especially negative ones about you.

Talk to someone you trust about it so they can reassure you that you’re not who the narcissist says you are.

9. Plan your responses in advance

Plan and prepare a few go-to responses you can give to the narcissist in case a conversation goes awry.

Practice statements like “I have to go” or “We’ll just have to agree to disagree”.

State them in a matter-of-fact tone once you notice the conversation leading into an argument or you notice the narcissist getting worked up. Then, leave the situation.

Don’t give them a chance to counter what you said or to attack you. If they try, tell them “We’ll talk about this another time”.

10. Avoid revealing your vulnerabilities

Ideally, you should be able to run to your parents to talk about your issues and hope they comfort you and guide you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, if you have a narcissistic parent, they would likely use what you tell them against you.

Even if your parent may seem understanding at the time, there will come a time when they’ll conveniently bring up that one time you cried about something.

Try to avoid revealing any vulnerabilities, traumas, secrets, or anything else that can be used against you.

It may be hard because they may constantly nag you to get information out of you or straight-up creep through your personal belongings to find out.

But stand your ground! Insist that you’re not hiding anything and that even if you are, you have the right to your privacy.

Narcissists can make your past traumas your fault. They would pick at your vulnerabilities and flaws again and again just to hurt you.

If they find out you like something or someone, they would find a way to sabotage it.

Although they’re your parent, it’s best to remain vague about your personal life with them.

That way, they would have fewer things to attack or criticize you about and fewer things they can use to manipulate you.

11. Set and stick to your boundaries

One of the best, but probably most difficult, way to deal with a narcissistic parent is to set boundaries.

Unfortunately, setting boundaries with narcissistic parents will be hard since they’re often unreasonable. They’d often use the “parent card” to violate your boundaries.

But remember, you have the right to be treated with respect.

Whether you live under their roof, whether they’re your parents, or whether you’re a minor is irrelevant.

If this causes them to become violent or abusive, try to document it. This will be useful if you need to report them.

12. Document threats and violence

Narcissists might resort to aggression or violence if they feel attacked or to further terrorize you into doing what they want.

They might make threats, break things, or even physically attack you.

Whenever a narcissist makes threats at you or is acting violently, document it if possible.

Try to remain discreet when trying to catch it on a recording. It might become useful one day when you need to take legal action or need proof of their threats. 

It can also be used to show others during a narcissist’s smear campaign that they are not the victim but the aggressor.

13. Establish a support network

It may be difficult to establish a support network, especially when abusers tend to isolate you from other people not within their circle.

On top of that, the narcissist has a facade that tells the world what a loving parent they are. So it might be hard to find people who aren’t already influenced by their charisma and manipulation.

However, try reaching out to people who aren’t tinted by the narcissist or who sees the real them.

You can also find online support forums or support groups for people in similar situations. 

Many individuals, including myself, know what it’s like to deal with a narcissistic parent.

We know how isolating and crazy it can feel, especially when the narcissist seemingly has the whole world wrapped around their finger.

You are not alone. There are many people out there who will believe you and validate what you’re going through.

Once you realize that you’re not alone and have some support and assurance that you’re not the one to blame, it makes it easier to deal with your narcissist parent.

14. Have an emergency plan

Narcissists can become aggressive or violent out of nowhere. Their sudden outbursts might occur if they perceive something as an attack.

Since they’re so unpredictable, you never know when they’re going to snap. So it’s crucial to have some sort of emergency plan prepared.

Have some emergency money well hidden or in a separate location and have a place in mind to go to when you need it.

Have some phone numbers or resources handy, and again, keep it well hidden.

You can have the numbers of trusted friends or family you can stay with during an emergency.

You can also reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline or Covenant House (for minors) which can provide information and locate services and shelters you can utilize.

15. Limit or cut contact if possible

If cutting contact with your parent is an option, consider it.

I know it could be hard when you’ve known your parent(s) all your life and you care about them. However, your well-being should be a priority.

And remember, you can always reestablish contact if and when you want to. It doesn’t hurt to cut contact first to see how it goes.

Or you can limit contact little by little to the point that they can no longer affect your life or mental health.

Once you’re away from the narcissist, the fog they cast over your life will be lifted. Your mental health and life will improve.

Despite the damage they’ve already done, you will still feel better because you will no longer be constantly attacked and put down.

If you’re dependent on the narcissist or are a minor and live with them or see them frequently, try to still limit the contact you have by keeping your interactions as short and brief as possible.

The fewer interactions you have with them, the fewer chances they have to abuse you.

16. Seek help and start healing

If you haven’t already, you should begin healing from the abuse you’ve endured, even if you don’t think you need to.

Childhood abuse and trauma leave long-term damages that are still apparent well into adulthood.

It IS possible to start healing from your parent’s narcissistic abuse.

How to Deal with a Narcissistic Parent | Hopeful Panda

Typically, narcissists are oversensitive and insecure, easily perceiving any little thing as an attack on their importance.

So be prepared for possible backlash when utilizing any of the methods on how to deal with your narcissistic parent.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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