Are you discovering how difficult it is to handle your narcissistic mother—even though you are now a full-grown adult? Controlling the communication is key, but there are other important factors to consider.
It’s challenging to be the child of a narcissist, no matter at what age. When you are young, you are at the mercy of your mother’s narcissistic behavior and poor decisions. As you grow older and move out on your own, it may feel like you have been released from a toxic prison. Surely now you will be free from the poisonous influence from your narcissist mom.
Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Many adult children of narcissists struggle with overcoming their emotionally abusive upbringing. Still, I have discovered through my own experience that you can deal with that tricky relationship, if you are willing to put in some effort.
Of course, you might choose to let go of your narcissistic mother and go no contact, but even that requires some strategizing. Continue reading for some advice on how to handle your narcissistic mother and make better choices for your own life.
1. Setting Checks and Maintaining Balances
First, now that you are a full-grown adult with a residence of your own, you are free to put some limitations on the relationship with your narcissistic mom. This may mean that you set limits on how often you see her, or how long you interact with her at any given get-together, or on where you meet. You’re not obligated to meet her demands.
Second, those limitations must be in the service of generating your own emotional equilibrium. The more time you spend with a toxic person, the more it impacts your own mental health. So, maintain a balance in your life by setting clear boundaries and sticking to them.
2. Confronting Your Truth and Dealing with Consequences
While very few of us actually enjoy confrontation, sometimes a reckoning with the truth can be psychologically liberating and emotionally fulfilling. You may find that you need to be vocal about the truth of your childhood in order to accept your mother’s narcissism. Ultimately, speaking your truth to your mother in a non-aggressive and reasonable manner leads to forgiveness and healing.
Be prepared, however, for her reaction. Narcissists do not like to be held accountable for their behavior and will often respond with hostility or deflection. Using the silent treatment is another method through which narcissists try to reestablish control. Make sure you have the patience and confidence to endure a period of silence.
3. Accepting Love with Limitations
A lot of the damage done by narcissistic mothers is caused by their conditional demands on love. True parental love should be unconditional and devoted to what’s best for their child. The narcissist doesn’t have the capacity to love in this manner. Now that you are an adult, you can learn to accept what love your mother can offer while disavowing her narcissistic behavior.
One way to help yourself reach that acceptance is by thinking about your mother in neutral terms. That is, when we think about our parents, we tend to idealize them or compare them to other, better parents. Instead, start trying to think of your mother as just another human being, with flaws and foibles of her own. Now you’re not inflating her influence too unrealistically or denigrating her failures too vehemently.
4. Making Rules and Living by Example
One of the constant problems faced by adult children of narcissistic parents is that they often fail to realize that they are no longer under mom’s control. You can live exactly the way you want, the way that makes you feel healthy and independent, not in a way that pleases her irrational demands. You make your own rules—and you should do so without guilt.
If you live your best life, then you become a model for others in your life, your partner and children, your co-workers and friends. You can even become an example for your own narcissistic mother who will see, if not always remark upon, how happy and healthy you are. Living life well takes away her arsenal of weapons.
5. Becoming the Leader of Your Own Life
Once you find your own pathway through life, then you will be able to lead yourself away from your toxic past and into a better future. This means that you have the choice to love your mother—as all children long to do, no matter how awful their childhood might have been—without needing to accept her control over you. You are in charge of the relationship.
If she is unable to accept your independence or respect your boundaries, then you also have the choice to walk away from her unreasonable behavior. Do not waste your time waiting around for her to change. You’ve already suffered under the burdens of her bad behavior. You are no longer obligated to follow her lead; instead, you lead your own life without apology.
Dealing with any kind of parent as an adult requires a regime change. New rules are established, while different patterns of behavior emerge. When we must handle the needs and demands of a narcissistic mother, we are stepping into challenging territory. Narcissists do not relinquish control easily, and they do not change readily—or at all.
This is why you must become the leader in the relationship, drawing your own boundaries, setting your own limitations, and accepting only as much as you decide you can. Being allowed to speak your truth and discover your independence is key to maintaining the relationship. The most crucial element here is that you decide what is best for you and your adult family.
Developing strategies for dealing with your narcissistic mother is a must after you’ve grown up. If you don’t, you’ll find your life can become unbearable. A free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide” can help. You will learn how to say no and even push back against her manipulative tactics. Just click this and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!