Narcissistic Parents

It’s Narcissist Friday!


God could raise children in the woods and bring them out as adults into society.  Instead, He brings helpless infants into relationships with people who need to grow up themselves.  Parents are regular people with fears, bad habits, and areas of brokenness.  Through those relationships, children learn to cope with the brokenness of the world.

Now, this isn’t really the way it was supposed to be.  When God set up this whole system it was good.  Sin and the resulting self-focus damaged our ancestors and us in more ways than we know.  From the beginning, with Adam and Eve, damaged relationships and broken people were all we had to work with.  We learned early to protect ourselves and use others; and we learned that from parents who had learned it from their parents who had learned it from their parents and so on.

So often the narcissist in a person’s life is a parent.  The damage that was done to the victim was done early, often so early that the victim doesn’t even realize that he or she was damaged.  Without understanding what is happening, the victim goes from narcissistic parent to narcissistic partner, perhaps one after another.  As we have considered before, the inability to set boundaries, to express feelings, and even to love can carry from childhood into adulthood.

So what do you do with a narcissistic parent, one who is still living and still in relationship with you?

My particular focus on this blog is toward Christians.  Christians often look to the concept of honoring parents as a command from the Lord.  How can we separate ourselves from the narcissist and still honor him/her?  Not everyone can move away far enough or just not answer the phone.

The answer goes back to boundaries.  Proper boundaries establish a distinction between you and someone else.  The fewer boundaries you have between you and another person, the more intimate the relationship and the more your identity is defined by that person.  In a normal marriage, this intimacy is appropriate and very close.  In a healthy family, these boundaries can be at a minimum.  But even in these intimate situations, there are still boundaries.

Some religious teachers make this even more difficult for victims by saying that parents continue to have a right to control in a child’s life even when the child is an adult.  This gives narcissistic parents permission to expect submission from their adult children.  But respect for parents is different from obedience and influence of parents is different from control.

It is important for children to grow independent of their parents.  If the parents won’t help with this, the children need to do it for themselves.  The adult son or daughter must think their own thoughts and live their own lives.  They may have to find quality counsel to help with this, to establish boundaries that begin the process.

Should the victim of a narcissistic parent simply cut off the relationship?  How would this work in the light of the command to honor the parent?  I believe that boundaries can be established, along with the appropriate psychological distance, even when the parent is still active in the relationship.  In other words, it shouldn’t be necessary to end the relationship.  However, this is an ideal and some may feel the need for the distance to be very firm (and long) in order to find health.

Obviously, I can’t cover enough in a short article to help with specific situations, but let me simply say this:

I believe that I honor my parents when I become a healthy, functioning adult and when I am able to pass that health on to my children or to use that health to bless the people around me.  It does not honor them for me to continue their brokenness through my life.  Even if they don’t see the need for me to be a person separate from them, I still must be able to establish and maintain boundaries, own and value my feelings, make independent decisions, and learn to share myself as a real person with others.  If, through their narcissism, my parents have dishonored themselves, I honor them best by finding a way to break the evil patterns in my life and in the lives of those who follow me.


Filed under Narcissism

38 responses to “Narcissistic Parents

  1. SueM


    So good Dave and so true. If only I had recognized so much earlier in life what a healthy relationship looked like…..

    Have a very blessed weekend!

    Oh, and please don’t stop these particular posts! :-). They are a lifeline for me. (as are your other gracefilled posts)

    • Sue, thanks for the input. Most of those who come to this blog do so because of the narcissism posts. By keeping the two themes together, I believe that some who have given up on the faith or who have been hurt by narcissistic legalists are finding a positive message about the love of Jesus. It is sad and concerning to see how many people have been hurt by narcissism and are angry and broken. I want to show them that they are loved.

      So, I won’t stop the narcissism posts. I think I have found a way to keep the two together while allowing some separation. Not everyone has suffered from narcissist abuse and that really isn’t the primary focus of my message. So I think the future will be a more static web page with more options for readers. I am studying how to do that. 😉

      A side note: people from around the world, including Middle Eastern countries are coming to the site. We have increased traffic by almost double over the last few weeks. And more are interested in the grace messages. Interesting and exciting days!

  2. Ann

    Thank you for your gifted ways of articulating that which I experiecnced, yet never knew “what” it was growing up with, and married into because “it” was so familiar. Not remembering huge parts of my childhood, not understanding why I could stand up for others, yet had great difficulty standing up for myself has been so puzzling. Being told that I just needed not to question things, pray more, trust more, etc., How does one do that when we don’t even know what that picture looks like? Well… it is indeed a journey for sure, and not for the faint-hearted. Some people have never encountered such things in their lives, and have no clue. Yet many have and can now understand this disorder and how to best deal with and heal from revolving doors of chaos and shame, God’s way with His Grace, Truth, and Love.

    Thank you for your Christian (Christ-like) views, defining that Light and Love that Jesus came to share. That Glorious light – that shines through in many different way in spite of all the darkness of this world, allowing hope to filter in and change everything (eventually) for good, and His Glory!

    • You are so welcome! I am blessed by your words of encouragement and by the knowledge that the Lord of love has used this blog to reach out to many. Even though the message about narcissism is hard, there is hope and blessing in it. Just to begin to understand brings a certain freedom and relief.

  3. Dee

    Thank you so much for this article. I love my mother even though I have realised in recent years she suffers from narcissism. I have done a lot of healing and grieving over our what our relationship could have been, but never will be. However, the biggest obstacle I have had is being strong and setting boundaries whilst maintaining a Christian stance. I feel guilt and conflicted when I think of what she has gone through to make her this way and I feel sorry for her. I also feel guilt and conflicted when I take a stand, as I see her looking at me with such disappointment. I love my mum, but oh dear, she has caused a multitude of problems between me, my husband, my son, my brother, and my brother’s wife. We have all been at the end of her narcissistic rage and had been caught up in a triangulation relationship for nearly 2 decades. My brother and I and our spouses, along with my son are now all on the same page about my mother. My brother lives a distance away, but I live only 10 mins away which is the cause of some problems. The biggest being unfortunately that I have transported her to church for the last 14 years, she has made the experience so thoroughly miserable for me and my son that I think she has done serious damage to her relationship with my son (her only grandchild) also. My husband long ago gave up coming as he was the target of so many barbs he just gave up. Much to my surprise my brother told me that my mother has been complaining about our attitude on the way to church to him for some time. He told her that she should make her own way to church, as she does have good public transport available. He also encourages me to set this boundary also, as the whole experience is so demoralising. I would love to tell her to make her own way to church, but I don’t know how I can. I do feel that one day in the near future, it will have to come to this.

    In any case, the point of my reply is that I found your remarks in your article about ‘honouring your mother’ to be so helpful. I have read so much on this topic, but this article has been the one I have been searching for. The particular phrase: “It does not honour them for me to continue their brokenness through my life” was the exact perspective I need to navigate through this challenge. I am a Christian and I want to do the right thing, but I just can’t keep going on the way things are. So I am incredibly appreciative of your enlightening words. Thank you.

    • Dee,

      Sometimes the admonition to honor our parents is taken to mean that we are supposed to endure their abuse and continue to be available for more. I think that’s a mistake. It sets us up to hate our parents, to be honest. I have known many people who long for the day when their parent would die. The truth is that we cannot take repeated abuse and be healthy or honoring to our abusers. There is a time for us to create distance, separation. Parents aren’t always right or good and obeying them or doing what they say isn’t always the right thing.

      This is over-simplified, but you could consider it a formula of a type. Boundaries allow health – health allows love. Unhealthy people do not give out of love, but out of obligation, fear, or broken desire. If not taking your mother to church on Sunday would help you become healthy and actually enable you to see her with a more gentle heart, then how could that be a bad thing? If visiting her is difficult, do it only on days when you are ready and able to handle it. If talking with her on the phone is bad, get caller id and answer only when you are ready or call her when you feel strong enough to take it. These are simply boundaries that will help. These may not be what she wants, but they will be important in making a healthy relationship possible.

      And sometimes it just doesn’t work. Then you minimize contact, try to be civil, and recognize that the day of ultimate reconciliation and good is coming. When parents make contact so negative, I don’t think we should do any more than what is necessary for us to be consistent with who we are. In other words, what you would do for a neighbor may be the limit of what you do for her. Sad, but necessary.

      It all depends on what you, in Christ, are able to handle and what is good for your mother. It certainly isn’t good for her to be so negative or to speak with cruelty. There is no reason for you to make that any easier for her. At the same time, she may need someone to talk with so you listen and make yourself available until the abuse begins. Then, and this is hard, you have to say goodbye. Cut it off when it gets hurtful. You don’t need that and she shouldn’t be doing it.

      Just some further thoughts. I know this is very hard and I am praying for you.

    • Lucinda

      I’ve just realized in the last two weeks that all I’ve ever known has a name!! It’s called a narcissistic family. I just can’t believe how well I understand other people’s stories.

      • Dee

        Hi Lucinda, I am over 4 years on from when I wrote my comment on this blog. I saw your comment come up and just wanted to encourage you. Many great changes have occurred for me, but it took time. I had an 8 month period of ‘no contact’ initially which my brother stepped in and organised for me. Looking back I think I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It did however give me time by myself to think whereas previously my mother was part of each and every day of my life whether in person or by phone. It was all too much. In any case I speak to her once a week and I moved 1.5 hr away. I still struggle with some guilt at times, but re-reading this blog at times, helps me to realise I have to stop this cycle and also look after myself. The point of my comment is to encourage you to continue to move forward. There is a life after all of the drama and deep wounds. You owe it to yourself. All the very best.

      • Lucinda

        Dear Dee
        Thank you for responding. I really was surprise and appreciative. The weird things is that I was googling narcissism bc I’ve been helping a friend who’s going thru major marriage issues and her description of him made me think he was a class A Narc. So I wanted to see if his characteristics matched and they definitely did. BUT, the more I researched abt him the more I was amazed, confused, relieved, sad to see that I! was the product of a Narc family and that I was the scapegoat!!!! Oh my goodness–what a shock!!!! I had always THOUGHT things were amiss and my amazing husband of 30 years always saw my family more clearly than I but it was hard for me to fathom his assessments bc I always felt more kind, hopeful and loyal to them. He’s gotten along well with them bc he’s a really peaceable good guy. I was always more up and down with them bc of their treatment of me. Next, add that I’m a Bible believing Christian who wants to please the Lord Jesus and be Scripturally based in my actions and reactions and that adds a new dimension to reading some of the stuff written abt dealing with a N mother and sister, who had always been the Folden Child, who are also Christian but don’t seemingly worry so much abt their words/actions .
        I don’t discuss my ext family issues with anyone outside of my home bc my children have all seen the pain inflicted on me by my M and S. So it’s been a rather quiet battle for me–except when an all out war broken out abt 5 years ago and they did everything textbook N. I kept trying to apologize and forgive and go back to the old bad normal but it took abt 18 mos. and then it just sorta resumed. I am 52 and have been saved for 31 years. Jesus has been wonderful to me and I have a great husband and kids. It’s the future dealing with my M and her charm circle that in not sure how to deal with. She and and the GC live in my same town and go to church at the same church — which I have always disliked — so what to do ???
        I have had LC for last 5 years but have always felt forced to call M once a week–usually on Saturday so that she’ll be nice to me on Sunday morning. She doesn’t call me unless she needs something. This is the 2nd Saturday I haven’t called her and I’m getting increasingly nervous now.

  4. Dee

    Thank you SO SO much. Your wisdom has helped me to stop feeling so conflicted and that’s taken a huge load off my shoulders. Thank you for taking the time to write such a great blog, it is much appreciated.

  5. Brenda

    Your post is so helpful. My Mom is and has always been a narcissistic parent. Growing up, we were not able to be involved in school or church activities that were not involving or focusing on her. It nearly destroyed my marriage early on, when she would try to make me make decisions based on her opinions, not that of my husbands. When I finally came to a true understanding of “Leave and cleave” it saved my marriage and I sincerely apologized to my husband for not honoring him as I should have. This change caused major damage in my relationship with Mom. Now, my Dad is in the latter stage of life . . . with severe dementia. While I know it is hard for my Mom in caring for him, her expectations of me are too great and unrealistic. I spend at least one day a week taking them to Dr. appointments, grocery stores, etc. but this is never enough. My husband also has parents needing help and we still have three teen-aged boys at home. If we do yardwork at our own home, she gives me grief about the help she needs at her home. If I go out with a friend, I am given grief that “she never gets to do anything fun.” She even gets upset that we are active in a Bible Study at Church because it takes time away from her. I own an antiques business and she equates all that I do with this business to greed. But I know her real issue is it makes me have less time for her. I am really at my wits end. She claims to be a Christian, yet, regularly says things like “If it wasn’t for the fact I am a Christian, I would just kill your Dad and then kill myself.” We grew up with these suicide statements that are simply a form of manipulation. If I could convince my husband, I would move far away in a heart beat. But he does not want to move and I do struggle with honoring them and wanting to be there for them. Any advice would be so appreciated.

    • Hi Brenda!

      Narcissistic parents can be so difficult. The obvious problem is that you can’t easily get away from them. In a Christian context the daughter/son is made to feel responsible for caring for the parent – no matter what the parent does. Added to that stress is the fact that the parent has pulled emotional strings throughout the child’s life and has infected the child with whatever it takes to remain open to manipulation.

      However, you must be in charge of your time and energy. If you have learned anything, it is to know that she doesn’t care what it costs you to meet her needs. So you have to care. You have to say that you can’t do things and you may have to hang up the phone if she starts to rant against you. You can also think of her as a grumpy neighbor who never has anything good to say. That way, when she starts in the car or somewhere else, you can just ignore her. Don’t let her get her jabs into your heart. Easier said than done, I know.

      Make sure that you know what services are available for your parents. Is there a bus service that could take your mom out so she doesn’t have to drive? Then be ready to suggest that when she wants a ride and you don’t want to take her. Is there someone who would sit with your dad, or do light housework, or help in other ways? Use them. Find a meals-on-wheels program if they aren’t eating right. Basically, gather resources so that you don’t have to carry all the burden. Don’t give your mom the choice, because she will always choose to use you. And don’t let her make you feel guilty either. She can ride the bus or eat food someone else has cooked. She just has to learn that it will be that way or she will have to do it herself. You are her daughter, not her servant.

      One serious question arises from your comment: is your dad in a safe place? How does she treat him? Would he be better of in a care facility? Her words of murder/suicide are idle threats you have heard through the years, but they are very serious to others. If you were to report her words, your dad may be taken out of the home for his own safety. Narcissists often forget that outsiders will not think lightly of their threats.

      Please feel free to write again, either here or privately through the contact page. I do care.

  6. melissa

    HI! First let me say thank you for addressing the “Honor thy Father and Mother” command while dealing with a narcissist parent – in my case, my mother. I think the church as a whole has been little to no help with this and in many cases only heaped more guilt on the children of people like this.

    I am learning boundaries and have been in counseling for several years about dealing with my mother. My counselor left her practice and my new one is on maternity leave so I have no one to help me right now.

    The problem is my mother and dad. They’ve been married for 45 years and there is no love there. My mother has guilted and manipulated my father all these years and he FINALLY realized it and told me 2 days ago. He is heartbroken and said he knows now that mother doesn’t love him and doesn’t care about him.

    Mother, on the hand, writes to me and tells me that all their problems are Dad’s fault, and that she’s the victim, that Dad is the one who changed, not her, and the only reason Dad has been such a great Dad all these years is because of her. She pushed him to be a great dad.

    My question is how do I deal with this? What is my role and responsibility in this situation as the daughter who feels for my heartbroken Dad and KNOWS because I’ve seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, it is WAY more my mom’s fault than my Dad’s that they’re marriage is what it is. She’s playing the victim and truly, my dad has treated her like a queen all these years. She’s the one who changed – not him- and not in good way! She refuses to go to counseling with him because she doesn’t want to hear that anything is her fault and that she must do some changing. I, too, am heartbroken at watching my parents marriage die. They won’t get a divorce, but they divorced in their hearts, They just live together in the same house but different rooms.
    Can you help me know what to do or say, if anything?
    Thanks so much,

    • These things are so hard and I feel for you. My thoughts, as I read your note, may seem a little harsh. You have to understand that I am not in the situation, don’t know your parents, and have only a distant perspective based on what you have written.

      A couple of things:

      First, I doubt that your dad has learned anything new in the last few months that he didn’t learn through the last 45 years. What has changed? Unless there has been something significant that has changed, I would suspect that you are being used on his side as well. He has put up with this arrangement for a long time, why cry about it now? Again, I don’t mean to be harsh. I am concerned for you.

      You see, your parents have to deal with their relationship themselves. If living two separate lives in the same house works for them, even if they are not happy, there is nothing you will do to change that and probably nothing you should try to do. Divorce is out and they would probably both be pulling at you even more if they were separate. So, let them be.

      I believe you that this is your mother’s fault, but your father has invested 45 years into this marriage. He has fought the battle his way. Maybe he has lost from time to time, but quite possibly less than you think. Even you are on the outside of their marriage. I have often found that couples who look terribly unhappy together cannot bear to be apart. We have to try not to project our perspectives, whether or not we would be happy with the situation, onto them. I realize they both say that they are unhappy, but have you ever wondered why they are talking to you about it?

      I doubt that I have to convince you that you shouldn’t be in the middle of this. You already know that. You feel the pressure of trying to solve a problem that isn’t yours, one that has facets you don’t know. No child should be brought into their parent’s marriage.

      So, establish boundaries with your father as well. Refuse to listen to their marriage problems. If they need to talk to someone, let them find counselors. Even if you had the time, even if you had the desire, you still should not be the one they go to with these problems. In fact, they should be the ones protecting you. Since they won’t, you have to protect yourself. Their corruption is poisoning you.

      So, something practical. You don’t say if you are married, but is there someone who loves you who would read your mom’s letters to tell you if there is anything you need to know? Sometimes husbands or friends ought to do that. I think this is particularly true when dealing with a narcissistic parent. Keep that separation and distance. And only answer the phone (whether it is mom or dad) when you want to. Get caller id if you don’t have it. You can call them back when you are relaxed or when you have something that will end the conversation. Take practical steps to avoid getting dragged into the fray.

      Again, I hope this isn’t harsh. Someone needs to say the hard things. It is not right for you to feel like you are in the middle of this. They are not right for pulling you in. Please protect yourself.

      Feel free to write to me again, either here or privately through the contact link. You are welcome to disagree with me or scold me. Just know that I care.

      • melissa

        Hi again and thanks for your response. I take time to process things and that’s why I’ve delayed responding.
        I cannot disagree with anything you’ve said. My counseling has taught me that much. And I wouldn’t scold someone who is trying to help, especially when I’ve asked. 🙂
        I understand it is hard for you not knowing the situation, so here’s a little more info.
        My Dad, whom I adore, is wonderful, sweet and gentle with a tremendous sense of humor, and if he hadn’t been, he and my mother would have been divorced long ago. Even her sisters say so. I credit his love and his affirmations of all 4 of us kids, but particularly my older sister and me, for keeping us from becoming just like our mother, as my mother did.
        He’s been on antidepressants the last few years and due to a doctor switch was without his medication recently so he just quit it “cold turkey”. Of course the withdrawal symptoms included him becoming “raw” as he put it. And he said that it was a “bad way” to “finally see things for what they are” but, he said being off the medication allowed him to see how mother has used and manipulated him all these years. I believe he may have seen it before this but 1) didn’t want to admit it and 2) was too tired to constantly have the battle with mother so he took the path of least resistance.
        While I know their marriage is their own and they have to deal with it, I had just wondered that since my mother “opened the door” by telling me that everything is my dad’s fault, AND takes the credit for him being a wonderful dad (“I pushed him all these years to be the perfect father I didn’t have”), I thought maybe I should take the opportunity to tell her that nothing is ever one person’s fault.

        I guess my other question is how do I deal with this now? When they come over for Christmas dinner or birthday celebrations, she’s barely civil to him, sometimes she’ll put him down by telling him “You don’t need to eat that extra piece of cake You’re fat and you need to lose weight,” or after he cracks a joke she says, “You’re not funny”, sometimes she ignores him completely, sometimes she just is short with everything she says to him, sometimes it’s other things. Some times are not as bad as others, but it always hurts me and my sister so much to see them like this and to hear her treat him like this. How do I deal with those situations, especially those that are at my house? Also, what do I do with the anger and heartbrokenness I have at watching my 71-year old father live out the rest of his years with a spouse that was supposed to love and support him through all his life only to find out now that she didn’t love him and he doesn’t have any companionship (not even friends) in his golden years? That makes me so sad and so angry at mother. I do pray about it a lot.
        Recently, I had the opportunity to tell my mother that it breaks my heart when they’re together (at a family gathering) to see how they interact with one another. You guessed it…she’s innocent and he’s guilty of every problem they have. I just wanted to lash out and name off every instance where she had been the wrong party, but I know that’s flesh and not by spirit and would have given the devil a foothold.

        A little more about me: I’m 39, my sister is 43, brother 33, and other brother 29 and we are all very close. I’m wonderfully happily married to the most wonderful, understanding, supportive man and I thank God for him constantly. Mother makes him mad, too, because he hates how she treats my Dad, and sometimes me. I live about 45 minutes away from my parents as we all do, except for the 29 year old who still lives at home (he’s another situation I’ve been praying about for the last 10+ years, but that’s a story for another day). Originally, I started counseling (Christian) 5+ years ago to help teach me how to deal with mother because I knew that the relationships we had were not “normal” and that was the first time I had ever heard about a Narcissist personality. I had a tremendous Christian counselor who literally has helped change my life, but she gave up her practice a year ago to get married. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was 13.
        I thank you SO MUCH for the narcissist blog. What a huge blessing you are.

      • If you can stand up to your mother and get her to listen, that could be a very good thing. But you have to realize that she will probably turn on you and attack you. I think the best thing would be to lay out clear ground rules for their visit. She is not to talk badly to your dad or to anyone. But what will you do to enforce it? Narcissists are driven to push boundaries and break rules. They believe themselves to be above the rules. And, again, are you ready to take what she unleashes on you?

        You see, narcissists win these games. They believe they must win. They are ruthless and relentless. They push and pick and whine and challenge until you give up because you can’t play at their level. Confronting her will be a big deal. You have to count the cost and prepare for the response.

        Please understand that I am not telling you not to do this. This is what she needs. But you have to be strong and not take anything she says or does to heart. No matter what she says, you have to stand your ground. You might want to have some friends praying as you do that.

        And maybe you can find an opportunity to talk with your dad just to tell him that you believe him and stand with him. Don’t let him pull into the problems, but let him know that you are there for him. He can call you and know that you care.

        Remember, if your mother is a narcissist, she is probably incapable of loving another person. Grieve for her. Don’t excuse her cruelty, or get pulled into her drama, but understand that it wasn’t that she didn’t love your dad as much as it was that she doesn’t love anyone. You grieve for what should have been, not for what was lost. You can’t lose something you didn’t have. The best your father ever had was probably a fantasy. But he chose to stay and the journey isn’t over yet. You won’t fix this, but you can love him along the way.

        I realize that this is little help. There is no magic fix. This is their marriage. These are your parents. Yes, it is sad, but it is what is. Just don’t let it define your life.

        Please continue to keep me posted. I do care.

      • for Melissa,,,, I see that you are trying to rescue your dad. Why? In these families there are scores and points kept. My advise to you is to let your dad fight his own battles. I believe your sweet dad is using you to fight his battles. And I believe that you have been taught to work for love ….I also used to work for love. Let the chips fall where they may be and quit rescuing your father who should have gotten therapy a long time ago. Also your dad was taking meds because his wife is mentally ill and not him. Many of us take meds because of the mentally ill narcissist who beats us up. We medicate because the N should be on meds. Stop rescuing and stand back and observe.

  7. Lab

    Thank you for this very loving post. It is helpful for those of us who feel compassionate toward our parent, but desire wholeness for ourselves and future generations at the same time. It helps to realize that it’s not me choosing distance. It’s my parent choosing with their actions.

  8. Thanks for linking me to this article. My belief is that because I have tried “boundaries” in the past with my mother (you cannot say this, do not act like that, etc.) and it has not ever worked, that no contact is the only true option. Honestly, before deciding that, we had attempted to invite her here for a holiday and she told me she would rather have no contact if we wouldn’t come to her instead (we live about 5 minutes apart). She need things in her control so badly that boundaries are not an option. I understand your advice on this is an ‘ideal’ as you say. I don’t think we have that ideal situation. It is good to hear the perspective you offer and I appreciate the comments from other readers as well.

    • Rachel, my thought with the link was to alleviate the concern about honoring parents. I understand that there are times when even strong boundaries don’t work. It sounds like your mother must control or she wants no relationship. Since you cannot allow her to control, then the choice is hers. You must do what is best for you. Nothing will change her or the relationship you have with her. But “no contact” may be the best for you. You may, however, find that was not what she really wanted. For her it was just a threat. For you it is a firm decision. She may attempt to find ways to fight that as well. Just be true to yourself and trust in the Lord’s love.

  9. catfishmom

    I am so grateful to have found this post tonight. I am the adopted daughter of a narcissistic father and a passive mother. At 47 years old I had a breakdown of sorts and realized that not only had I grown up in this narcissism, but I have also married a narcissist of a different color. I am divorcing now and trying to set boundaries with my father…I am lucky to have a good therapist and a strong faith, but it has been so very difficult. I am also a highly sensitive person. I have reconnected with my family of origin, and they have been wonderful to me, especially my father who has shown me what a healthy father looks like….

  10. catfishmom

    I do want to add that I understand why my father is a narcissist…I feel for him, but after so many years it may be time to give myself some protection…just trying to figure out for myself what that looks like…

    • UnForsaken

      This is one of the defining articles that drew me to this site. I’m so glad you found it too!

      Need to read this again……

  11. Batya Ahul

    “I believe that I honor my parents when I become a healthy, functioning adult and when I am able to pass that health on to my children or to use that health to bless the people around me. It does not honor them for me to continue their brokenness through my life. Even if they don’t see the need for me to be a person separate from them, I still must be able to establish and maintain boundaries, own and value my feelings, make independent decisions, and learn to share myself as a real person with others. If, through their narcissism, my parents have dishonored themselves, I honor them best by finding a way to break the evil patterns in my life and in the lives of those who follow me.”

    Pastor Dave thank you so much for your wonderful Godly wisdom, like other commenters here this post lead me to your site & the above paragraph has released me from so much guilt and pain.

    Although I had created geographical boundaries from my narcissistic parents, I still struggled with others & was caught in an “honour my parent” trap which resulted in me buying them expensive presents for Christmas, birthdays etc- these gifts became expected from me & little if any gratitude was ever shown for them. I also gathered from social media that my mother used these gifts as a tool to create the image of”look at these wonderful gifts from my children, I must be an amazing parent”.

    Not only had my parents never reciprocated, but through years of psychological, emotional & physical abuse from my mother (which my father witnessed/or was aware of but never intervened probably because he was too busy ‘orbiting’ my narcissistic mother) this left me with a core belief that not only was I responsible for everything that was wrong in the world but I also that I had no right to exist. I now know that this is a lie, but struggle every day as this was my normal for so long. I forgive & forgive & forgive & try & remind myself that Christ died for me- I am worth that much!

    So much of the time I am stuck in “fight or flight” mode which is just exhausting- I’m always anticipating that something will go wrong. Because I could never trust my parents just to keep me safe (every child has the right to feel safe & loved!) I really struggle trusting God (or anyone for that matter) & have very little peace. before I was married I just worked, worked & worked so I would be too exhausted to think, but now I am married (to thankfully a wonderful man but who is yet to know Christ- I didn’t think I deserved a Christian husband, but am praying that he will be saved every day- he does thankfully come to church with me) with 2 beautiful young boys, everything has slowed down & I end up in negative thought patterns which Itry & fail to interrupt with prayer & scripture. I know this whole generational pattern is from the enemy who came to seek & destroy- I just wish Jesus would hurry up & return, I’m tired of this world & I just want to go home.

  12. BJ

    I am so incredibly grateful for this site. Reading these helpful posts and comments has grounded me in the fact that I am not alone in dealing with a narcissistic mother. So often I used to get caught in the trap of what I’ve missed out on, as so many of my friends have beautiful relationships with their moms. But to hear that others are going through the same fight as me both breaks my heart, but encourages me too. We can do this!
    I struggle so much with what honoring my parents should look like. This post has been SO helpful! I have found that no amount of boundaries work with “her” and have now decided to cut all ties. Like another reader’s post above, I too have a father with dementia and find it hard to completely break free. But he chose to stay with her, take the abuse, never stand up for us kids, and I cannot fix their twisted marriage. My focus is to protect my children from the hell I have had. I absolutely love what you said Dave in the last paragraph of this post. I really need honor them by becoming the person God wants me to be. If I can find one thing to be grateful for concerning my mom was that she gave me life and took me to church. There I found Jesus, everything else concerning her has been a sick, twisted, emotional abusive mess. At 42 I have more physical problems than I should have for my age, I see now that the anxiety she causes in my life is the leading cause for 95% of my health issues. Everyone around her will die a slow painful death, and I’m not willing to take part anymore. Removing myself from her is the only way I’ll truly heal in every sense of the word.
    I have hope because I have Him! I want to leave a legacy behind for my children and grandchildren that exudes grace and love. While I feel so inadequate to even model those things, I am grateful to God for never leaving me and always guiding my every step.
    So often I shake my head – things didn’t have to be this way. But they are, its a somber reality for some of us that these narcissists seek to destroy any happiness we can find. As I remove myself from her, living only minutes away, I must intentionally keep my heart soft so as not to hate her. She will die a lonely woman when she realizes she’s alienated her four children with her horrific behavior. I so resonated with what you said in one of your replies above in that sometimes I seriously think relief will come when she has passed on. Its a horrible thought, but unfortunately so very true.

  13. Janet

    Thanks so much for the wisdom, the words from God unto us his children. I too battle with the right definition of Honoring our parents. Your simple explanation gave rest to my heart. I love my N. Mom, but I have to take care of myself this last week just taking her to an appointment raised my blood pressure. Iam more distant and feeling better, praying for her, which is all I can do. God bless.

  14. Emma

    This post is extremely helpful to me. My husband’s father tried to and succeeded in controlling his life for many years. When my husband opened up his business, he employed his father who then proceeded to try to take it over, bad-mouthing my (very submissive) husband to the employees etc., the list goes on and on. When my husband finally decided that enough was enough, he was met with severe opposition. his father even got physical with him and told him all sorts of terrible things in front of our 12 year old kids. He called up the customers and told them that my husband beat him and put him out of the business (lies, as I was right at the scene) and spread vicious lies about my husband to all and everyone he could talk to. He said that he wanted us to lose the business, lose our house and that our kids should starve on the streets. He was verbally abusive towards me when I tried to say anything. My husband has since distanced himself from his father. He does not communicate with him at all. The kids and I are civil to them(I say them because his mom was supportive of his actions possibly due to a lifetime of verbal and physical abuse, even at age 60!!!) but they do not form a big part of our lives any more. I think a great deal of healing is required. But the end result is my husband started going to church with me (he was not christian) and we have seen Jesus work miracles (plural) in our lives. We are currently working on forgiveness and praying that we are able to forgive them and move on.

  15. The One

    I don’t know how I missed this blog. I’ve been following a few years now. But this is definitely true and helpful!

    • The One

      I really strived to have no contact with my Mom until she had a stroke recently. My aunts are only able to pitch in periodically as they are senior citizens themselves and families of their own. I have a younger brother, but we don’t communicate well. I’m almost afraid of him in a way because his behavior is volatile. I never know what to expect from him. My Mom is not married and really doesn’t have any one else to care for her. Prior to her stroke, I tried my best to avoid her. Now having to go from basically no contact to all in contact is traumatic for me. While I would never allow anyone to harm her, I just don’t want to be bothered! The business of caring for a loved one emotionally and administratively has been eye-opening, draining and stressful! Over the years, I’ve always honored my mother and helped her throughout the years when she was recovering from drugs, getting out of abusive marriages, allowing her and my brother to live with me etc. But as a middle-aged single parent, I could never get her to reach out her and voluntarily babysit for me without her having her hand out for money. The last time a guy showed interest in me, she was jealous, when I was in distress and needed motherly advice, I was left to flounder and long for some type of experiential wisdom from her, but I got nothing but silence and judgmental glares! Now she’s basically helpless! I am left as the sole contact for her. I stroke struggle with these feelings and I don’t if I’m wrong or right in Gods sight for feeling this way! I feel miserable. I have other matters in my life that I’m dealing with simultaneously ie work, pre-teen daughter, young adult daughter, my health etc. How does one cope?

      • Tc

        Wow…that’s a super super hard one and I feel very much for you. In all honesty, I’m not sure what I’d do in that situation. It’s as if you spent your whole life parenting HER, without her parenting you in return and then finally got free.from her….and now this. Does she have finances that can be used that you could hire help for her in her own place? Gosh, I know it would be iffy to get your brother involved to help if he’s volatile, but in theory he should try to do his part, it shouldn’t all be on you. Do you even have the finances to care for her in your home…and medical care? That shouldn’t all be on you. Can the state take care of her and try to get her better? I know that seems harsh, but God can be with her and help her wherever she goes.

  16. UC

    God bless you for sharing.
    I was tired of reading secular psychology opinions on the matter. I now have the strength to move on in love. I also have the courage to build healthy boundaries.
    To God be the glory.

  17. Liz

    Your last paragraph is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  18. Mike

    Thank you for posting. God bless.

  19. Lysa

    Wow, this is so wise. Thank you for sharing.

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