Do Narcissistic Grandparents Have Any Rights?

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In healthy people, the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be a beautiful and loving thing. From an evolutionary perspective, grandparents help ensure the survival of the grandchildren by helping to raise them, providing them with needed resources, and giving them the benefit of their years of wisdom. When the grandparents are narcissists, however, all that changes. 

Narcissistic grandparents will emotionally abuse their grandchildren just like they did their own children. Emotionally abused children will often want to prevent their abusive parents from seeing their grandchildren. That can be tragic, but grandparents have very few rights in this regard. 

If you have narcissistic parents who want to see their grandchildren, but you don’t trust them, you need to know what your rights are as well as how you can manage the situation if you don’t want to cut them out of your life. Let’s take a look at what your rights are as a parent and how you can manage narcissistic grandparents. 

What Rights Do Narcissistic Grandparents Have?

Narcissistic grandparents, like all grandparents, have very few rights in the United States. The laws are constructed to favor the rights of parents above all else. Of course, sometimes, the parents are not fit, and in some of those cases, grandparents have petitioned the courts for custody of their grandchildren. 

What Rights Do Narcissistic Grandparents Have

Still, those cases are few and far between. While a few states, like Hawaii, have tried to pass grandparent laws to allow for visitation rights, those have mostly been ruled unconstitutional by higher courts. According to FindLaw, “The laws surrounding grandparent’s visitation rights vary by state but are always intended to support the best interests of the child.”

As of this writing, there are no states in the US in which grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren. It is usually only in the case where children have been removed from their parents that extended relatives like grandparents might petition for custody. 

What this means is that if you’re the child of narcissistic parents or if your spouse’s parents are narcissistic, you can prevent them from seeing your children. Many children of narcissists elect to do so, and of course, as narcissists, those banned grandparents will often threaten lawsuits and more. 

The reality is that they have little standing as long as you’re a fit parent. That doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t pull all kinds of manipulative tricks to get close to their grandchildren. 

They might even lie about your parenting ability. Their sense of entitlement is so strong that they can’t stand to let you keep them from doing something they want. While you can ban them, you should expect some pushback. 

How Do Narcissistic Grandparents Treat Their Grandchildren?

Narcissists are always looking for people they can manipulate into propping up their fragile self-esteem. Moreover, they see everyone in their life as an extension of their own identity. They believe that as extensions of their own identity, the other people in their life should want to do what the narcissist believes they should. 

How Do Narcissistic Grandparents Treat Their Grandchildren

That’s why they will use all the same tactics they did with you. These include lying, projecting, triangulation, and gaslighting, among others. While all of them do damage, as you know, perhaps the worst of these is triangulation. 

Triangulation is when they tell one family member one thing and another one something else. They often do this between siblings to divide them. They don’t want the children to have anyone else to turn to when they have doubts about what’s going on. 

The problem is that this can create a rift between siblings that will last a lifetime. But narcissistic grandparents won’t stop there. 

They will also pick a ‘golden grandchild’ and shower them with praise and love. They may give them gifts that are more expensive than you would like, for example. They want the other grandchildren to compete for their attention. 

These toxic grandparents are using their grandchildren to prop up their image as superior individuals. They don’t care that they may do extensive damage because, in their mind, they believe they have every right to manipulate their grandchildren. 

It goes without saying that they will also lie and gaslight to make themselves appear better. They will also lie to you about what they are saying and doing. This is why you have to take steps to protect your children from the kind of abuse you suffered. 

Do Narcissistic Grandparents Love Their Grandchildren?

This is really a difficult question to answer. Narcissists are human, and as such, they have human emotions. The problem is that their personality disorder creates such a distorted reality that they really can’t express their emotions in a healthy way. 

Do Narcissistic Grandparents Love Their Grandchildren

Narcissists fear intimacy because they don’t want anyone to get close enough to see what they believe is their true nature. They keep everyone at arm’s length, and they never show vulnerability. That includes vulnerability in their emotional expressions. 

They often push people who are close to them away to prevent them from seeing into their true nature. This is one of the reasons that they often fear empaths even as they are attracted to them. Empaths can often see through their facade to the vulnerable and traumatized child inside. 

So even though narcissistic grandparents may love their grandchildren, it’s likely they won’t show true emotion in that regard. If that grandchild is their chosen ‘golden child,’ they may shower them with attention and gifts, but there is an agenda behind this attention. 

In the end, any displays of affection the narcissistic grandparent shows toward their grandchildren are unlikely to feel like love on the receiving end. 

What Can You Do to Protect Your Children?

What Can You Do to Protect Your Children

There are several options parents have to prevent narcissistic grandparents from seeing their grandchildren. They can cut off all contact, and the grandparents will have little legal recourse. 

If you don’t want to cut off all contact, however, you will want to take certain steps to ensure your grandchildren are protected. 

Define the Line

Because you are parents, you get to define the line their narcissistic grandparents can’t cross. You’ll want to protect your children from their toxic grandparents and you can do that by setting clear boundaries. You can decide when and where they will be allowed to see your children, and you can insist on supervised visits. This might be the best option to prevent narcissistic manipulation. 

Choose the Conversation Topics

You can also determine what your toxic parents are allowed to talk to your children about. You will likely have to monitor their conversations to ensure this kind of boundary is not violated. That will also help to prevent other abuse. 

Limit the Time Together

It will also be important to limit the time your toxic parents can spend with their grandchildren. That will limit the exposure your children will have to the kind of toxic behavior narcissists exhibit. This will be important for your children’s well-being. 

Set a Limit on Gifts

This is another determination you can make that will limit the types of gifts they can give to your child. It’s common for narcissistic grandparents to shower their ‘golden grandchild’ with expensive gifts that you might not want them to have for whatever reason. This can keep that kind of manipulation from happening. 

Final Thoughts

Narcissistic grandparents are just as abusive toward their grandchildren as they were toward their children. One of the ways they manipulate both their children and grandchildren is through the use of emotional triggers. They get to know what bothers you and won’t hesitate to push your buttons if they can use it to their advantage. That’s why it can be important for both the children and grandchildren of narcissists to heal those old wounds that leave behind emotional triggers. 

Let me show you a great way to do that. I have developed this 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. It is designed to help you recognize, defuse, and ultimately heal old wounds and their emotional triggers. If you would like a free copy of this handy guide, just click on this link. I’ll send it directly to your inbox.


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Narcissistic abuse takes a terrible toll on your life. I’m Patricia, and my mother is a narcissist, so I know what you’re going through. These blog posts will help you understand narcissism better and give you tips for dealing with the narcissists in your life. Healing starts here!

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