Do you find yourself ensnared in a relationship with narcissistic parents?
It’s a terribly difficult situation in which to be. You know that you love your parents—after all, they’re the only ones you have—yet their behavior annoys you at best and threatens your well-being at worst. They don’t even seem to realize they are hurting you.
Sometimes your only recourse is to distance yourself from this toxic relationship, at least for a time. The damage it does to you is significant. The dysfunctional dynamic is not your fault nor is it your responsibility. They must make an effort to repair the damage, but until then, you simply need to get away.
Read on for some specific strategies on how to disentangle yourself from this toxic connection.
Freeing Yourself from Poisonous Parents
If you have exhausted your options (and your patience) for dealing with your toxic parents, then you have no other choice but to get away. This may be easier said than done, but there are some self-affirming ways in which you can distance yourself from the emotionally destructive bond you share with them.
1. Quit Pleasing Your Parents
Narcissists have impossible standards and they are impossible to please. Though you have likely been raised to cater to your parents’ whims, you need no longer feel obligated. Their desire for attention and admiration are unreasonable, and you are not responsible for making them happy.
Start living your life on your own terms, and refuse to give them emotional power over you. If you constantly seek their validation, you will only end up disappointed and hurt. You are entitled to make your own choices, regardless of what they think.
2. Don’t Break Your Boundaries
Even though your parents are pretty much terrible at setting boundaries, that doesn’t mean that you have to live by their example. Instead, set clear boundaries and be absolutely firm in maintaining them. This is as much about self-respect as it is about demanding respect from them.
If your parents continually test your boundaries or break the rules you set, then you have every right to simply cut off contact. Any relationship that isn’t built on mutual respect cannot be healthy and fulfilling.
Setting boundaries might be uncomfortable at first, but learning to set limits and to say “no” is quite empowering when handling toxic parents.
3. Stop Sharing Too Much
Alongside respect, trust is a crucial component of any healthy relationship. If you confide in your parents and they breach that trust, then you must start managing what you share with them. You are under no obligation to share personal experiences or intimate feelings with them.
When parents use your confidences to criticize you or humiliate you in front of others, they prove themselves to be untrustworthy. If they trample all over your privacy and share information without permission, then you cannot rely on their discretion.
Remember that this is not your problem. What is within your control is how much and what kind of information you do share.
4. Accept Their Limitations
Begin to recognize that you alone cannot change them (maybe nothing can). Especially as people grow older and more established in their habits, they are resistant to change. If your parents have relied on narcissistic strategies to navigate their entire lives, then you will have a futile fight on your hands if you attempt to change them.
Instead, accept that they are who they are, and their limitations are their own. Should you choose to work around those limitations, such as only visiting them at their home for designated times, then you may be able to maintain contact.
But you shouldn’t feel obligated to work with their (frustrating, unreasonable) limitations. You have the power to decide.
5. Reject Reasoning and Rationalizing
You should also quit trying to reason with your parents or rationalizing their behavior. In the first case, attempting to reason with someone who is emotionally immature and psychologically manipulative is frustrating and pointless.
In the second case, justifying toxic behavior only negatively impacts your own well-being—and lets them off the hook.
If your parents aren’t interested in or cannot listen to your perspective, then your best bet is to disengage. Otherwise, you will only be dragged into the dysfunctional drama that defines their lives. It doesn’t have to define yours.
6. Remove Yourself from the Situation
You are also not obligated to be constantly at your parents’ disposal. Narcissists have a tendency to make unreasonable demands and expect everyone to be at their beck and call.
You are not obligated to immediately return a phone call or text, to show up when instructed, or even to spend the holidays with them if you feel it might be too toxic.
If you do decide to have contact with your parents, always have an exit strategy prepared. Thus, if the atmosphere begins to deteriorate, if you feel their behavior begins to threaten your stability, then you have a predetermined way to get out.
7. Self-Care is Super Important
Finally, growing up with toxic parents is exhausting. It’s stressful and unpredictable, and it eventually impacts your overall health and well-being. Make time for yourself and indulge in regular self-care.
Start with the basics, like getting solid sleep and eating well, then be sure to address your emotional and psychological needs, as well.
Seek professional help, if necessary, and surround yourself with supportive and mentally healthy friends and family members. Find an outlet for your stress and grief through meditation, exercise, hobbies, and general fun.
You will find it easier to deal with your parents if you yourself are happy and whole.
Detaching yourself from your toxic parents may be your only option in order to protect and care for yourself. It’s a difficult process, but the above strategies will help you to maintain equilibrium and to disengage from a poisonous relationship. Your obligations should be to your own mental and physical health and your general well-being.
Remember that you are not responsible for your parents’ disorder, their actions, or their happiness. If they cannot respect your wishes or hear your point of view, then the best course for you is to detach, distance yourself, and disentangle entirely.
Detaching from toxic parents can be difficult, but a free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide” can help make it easier to do. You will learn how to say no and push back against narcissistic manipulation, even from a vulnerable narcissist. Click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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