When you think of a grandmother, you likely think of a kindly older woman who dotes on her grandchildren and works with her children to improve their lives. But a narcissistic grandmother doesn’t fit that mold. Narcissism affects even the love a grandmother can express. The narcissistic grandmother isn’t at all like the stereotype.
Narcissism creates a distorted view of reality, and because of that, even a narcissistic grandmother is self-absorbed and often cruel. She can easily disrupt the family dynamic and cause chaos. She will lie and use other manipulative tactics to get her own needs met at the expense of others.
If you have a narcissistic grandmother or if your mother is narcissistic, it’s important to know how she might treat her grandchildren. You likely already know the narcissistic abuse she can dish out, and you’ll certainly want to protect your children from those tactics. Let’s take a look at 11 things she likely did to her own children and that she will do to her grandchildren as well.
1. Narcissistic Grandmothers Lie
All narcissists lie, including narcissistic grandmothers. As researchers in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ariel University in Israel found, narcissism disrupts the intuitive truth-telling model that causes most people to be honest. Truth-telling is the default because it’s less complicated.
Narcissists, however, do whatever it takes to maintain the grandiose image they’ve created of themselves. They hide any perceived flaws, and they lie to manipulate people into giving them the narcissistic supply they so desperately need.
A narcissistic grandmother will lie to both her children and her grandchildren too. She won’t ever take responsibility for anything she has done that might have caused a problem. She will put the blame on anyone else, including her grandchildren.
Narcissists can’t admit to any wrongdoing. Even if they are caught red-handed in a lie, they won’t admit to it, or they will blame the need to lie on someone else, often the victims of their manipulation. Watch this video to learn more about how to deal with a narcissist’s blame shifting. It has some great tips.
For example, she might say something like, “I had to lie to make sure you didn’t do something stupid.” Lies are a common feature of narcissistic behavior, and even if presented with facts that show they’re lying, the narcissist will deny it.
They might also try to use other manipulative tactics, like erupting in a rage, to get their victims to stop focusing on the lies they’ve told. It’s a no-win situation for their victims. Without solid proof of a lie, you won’t get the narcissist to admit they did anything wrong.
Even with solid proof, they will blame-shift to avoid taking responsibility for what they have done. They will also minimize any problems their lies have caused.
2. Narcissistic Grandmas Gaslight
Another manipulation technique that narcissists typically use is called gaslighting. It’s based on an old movie of the same name where the husband tries to convince his wife she is crazy. He keeps adjusting their gaslights and then denies there’s any difference. He’s trying to make his wife think she has lost it, and that’s what the narcissist is trying to do too.
They want their victims to lose trust in their own perception of reality. If that happens, the narcissist has greater control over them, which is exactly what they want. A narcissistic grandmother will use this tactic for many reasons.
If she is caught in one of her many lies, she will use it to distract and deny any wrongdoing. She will also use it to make her loved ones, including her grandchildren, feel dependent on her for an accurate understanding of what has happened.
The more you can’t trust your own intuition and perceptions, the more you need someone like a narcissist to help you interpret reality. But more than that, the narcissist can use it to make you doubt yourself.
They might tell their victim that they’re just being too sensitive, for example, or that what they thought happened didn’t really happen. If you fall for this tactic, it gives the narcissist free rein to do anything they want to do. They will simply gaslight you into believing it didn’t happen.
3. Narcissistic Grandmothers Triangulate
Triangulation is playing both ends against the middle. A narcissistic grandmother will tell one grandchild one thing and another one something entirely different. They will also tell their own children one version of the story and their grandchildren something different.
There are several reasons why they do this. First, they love drama, so they like to spin tales and watch the ensuing chaos disrupt the family dynamic. Another reason they love doing this is that it makes them feel powerful. They are the puppetmaster pulling the strings of their various subjects.
Being the only one who knows the various storylines feeds the narcissist’s delusions of grandeur. They are the superior one who really knows what is going on while everyone else is scrambling.
That level of power gives them more control over the situation as well. They often start the ball rolling, watch the drama unfold, and then they begin tweaking the situation by adding new storylines and changing previous tales they’ve told.
For them, it’s all a big game, and they are the one in control of the winners and losers. Imagine how powerful they feel. Because a narcissist lacks empathy, they have no sense of the damage they are doing. They may ruin close relationships between siblings and sow distrust between children and their parents. They don’t care as long as they get their needs met.
4. Narcissistic Grandmothers Choose a Golden Grandchild
Just as a narcissistic mother will choose a golden child, she will also choose a golden grandchild. This is a child she will shower with loving attention, but it’s not what it seems to be.
In every family involving a narcissist, there is a golden child and a scapegoat. The golden child is treated as a special child while the scapegoat is, as the name implies, blamed for everything that goes wrong.
The golden child is spared from responsibility, while the scapegoat is often given responsibilities beyond their maturity level. Both children are abused, though, at first glance, it seems the scapegoat is bearing the brunt of it.
In reality, the golden child typically suffers more devastating effects from the abuse than the scapegoat. The abuse the scapegoat suffers is obvious even to the child as they get older. They tend to develop more resiliency as a result of what they have endured.
The golden child, on the other hand, often doesn’t realize they’re being abused until the damage has been done. They aren’t allowed to do things for themselves, and they are encouraged to feel entitled to everything they want.
They don’t develop the skills they need to survive and be independent of their narcissistic mother. It can result in them developing narcissism or suffering lifelong mental problems. These same things can happen to a golden grandchild.
Additionally, when a narcissistic grandmother chooses a golden grandchild, it can easily create a rift between that child and their siblings. It can prevent them from forming the close relationships that many children form with their brothers and sisters.
Of course, the narcissistic grandmother does this to feel powerful, to have someone they can control, and to develop another long-term source of narcissistic supply.
5. Narcissistic Grandmas Undermine Parental Authority
A narcissistic grandmother can’t do what she wants to do with her grandchildren unless she can get the parents out of the way. She often will undermine your parental authority to give her more sway with her grandchild.
Gaining that kind of control over her grandchild makes her feel incredibly powerful, especially if the parents struggle to stop her. She feels more certain of her superiority as a result.
Moreover, if she can gain control over her grandchild, she has another willing source of narcissistic supply. She will manipulate that child as much as she wants, and she often turns them into codependents.
To do all of that, however, she has to form a special relationship with her grandchild. That means undermining their parent’s authority. She has to whittle away at it with subtle gestures that question the parents.
She might do things like buying the child something the parents didn’t want them to have, and then, she’ll say, “This is just between us.” She makes them feel like they have something special that makes disobeying their parents okay.
The more a narcissistic grandmother is successful at doing something like this, the more your children will misbehave. Their grandmother is teaching them that they don’t have to do what their parents tell them.
Even if she tries to get them to keep it between the two of them, a child will often carry a lesson learned in one part of their life to other areas. Parents experiencing this kind of thing note that their children start challenging everything they say.
6. Narcissistic Grandmothers Isolate Their Grandchildren
As a narcissistic grandmother uses her other manipulation tactics against her grandchildren, she also begins the process of isolating them from the rest of their family and their friends. The narcissist makes the child feel as though they are above the other people, superior to them.
She may tell them that they shouldn’t waste their time spending time with these people who are not as good as they are. Successful narcissistic grandmothers will do this subtly so that the child doesn’t really know what’s happened.
They start out taking their grandchild everywhere the child would like to go. Like a narcissist who is wooing a lover, the narcissistic grandmother uses her considerable charm to make the child feel special or unique.
She wants them to crave her attention and praise, and when she’s gotten them hooked on her charm, she begins making demands on them. Just as with anyone else in her life, she develops unrealistic expectations of her grandchild.
The stages of any relationship involving a narcissist are idealization, devaluation, and discard. The idealization stage is where the narcissist idealizes their victim. They charm them, make them feel special, and make them believe the narcissist is thoroughly enamored of them.
But they set unrealistically high expectations for their victim and the relationship. When the victim can’t live up to those expectations, and no one can, the narcissist begins devaluing them. That can ultimately lead to a discard, and this is even true of a narcissist’s family members.
There are some narcissists who will even abandon their entire family and start a new life altogether. As with any other relationship in the narcissist’s life, the relationship they have with a golden grandchild will move through these stages too.
7. Narcissistic Grandmothers Groom Their Grandchildren
Narcissistic grandmothers are doing what other types of abusers are doing. They are grooming their victim, even their own grandchild. They are manipulating them to get them to accept what will come next.
This is the pattern of most narcissists. They charm their victims, make them believe they are special, and make them feel like they are the center of the narcissist’s world. When they start to show their true colors, they work hard to make the victim believe there’s something wrong with them.
The narcissist can’t be bad because they’ve been so great. It is such a sudden change that many victims can’t understand or believe what’s happening. They think it must be their perception. Of course, the narcissist takes advantage of that sensation to gaslight their victim and make them believe they’re the one with a problem.
This is why it often takes the victims of narcissists to realize there’s something genuinely wrong. They just can’t reconcile the wonderful person they know with this suddenly very different, very abusive person. The same is true for the grandchild of a narcissist.
This is particularly devastating for a young grandchild who isn’t mature enough to really understand what is happening. They don’t know they’re being abused, and as a result, they often don’t say anything to anyone else, including their parents.
By the time they do realize they’ve been the victim of emotional abuse, they are too ashamed to admit it. That’s another thing that works to the narcissist’s advantage.
8. Narcissistic Grandmas Buy Love
Another thing a narcissistic grandmother will do is try to buy the love of her grandchildren. She will buy them expensive things that you can’t afford or that you might not even want them to have.
Sometimes they may even try to hide the expensive gifts or excursions they give their grandchild. If a parent pushes back, they will minimize their complaint. She might say, for example, “Oh, I just wanted him to have what he wants, and it’s nothing for me to get it for him.”
The grandchild doesn’t understand that the new toy they got comes with a much higher price than they are expecting to have to pay. The narcissistic grandmother will use this later to get what she wants.
She may say something like, “Don’t you remember that I did something nice for you? I got you that toy you really wanted. Won’t you do something nice for me now?” That will continue, and of course, her demands will increase.
What’s more, the nice things she once did for her grandchild will disappear altogether. For a narcissist, it’s a game of diminishing input. At first, they put in a great deal of work to ensure their victim is charmed into loving them or doing what they want.
When they have them hooked, they then start to reduce what they put into the relationship while the expectations for their victim increase. They will want more from their own grandchild even as they reduce what they are willing to give them.
Check out this video for some great information on how narcissistic personality disorder affects relationships. You’ll see these patterns persist in every relationship involving a narcissist.
9. Narcissistic Grandmothers Intrude
Another thing that narcissistic grandmothers do is intrude into the lives of their children and grandchildren. They drop by unexpectedly, and no matter what you might have planned, they expect you will drop everything and pay attention to them.
Unless you set and enforce strong boundaries, this will continue to happen. They will also do this to their own grandchild. A narcissistic grandmother may expect her golden grandchild to drop everything and come help her when she asks. She will ask frequently.
It is her intent to isolate her grandchild, and thus, the more she can demand help, the more she can achieve that goal. She may call on the weekends when she knows her grandchild has other plans or show up in the evening.
She will want to distract her grandchild from anything else they might be doing. She believes she is more important than anything else in their life, and she expects them to think that way too.
If the child and their parents don’t respond as the narcissist expects, she may become rageful and vindictive. She may come to view her own grandchild as an enemy. She will then do everything in her power to destroy that child.
10. Narcissistic Grandmas Create Drama
Narcissists, in general, love to create drama. They like nothing more than setting the stage and then watching the play. They feel powerful when they know that they had something to do with the drama unfolding.
They feel as though they are in control of the people around them, but even if what happens isn’t the result of something they did, they still enjoy watching how people maneuver as they face significant challenges in their life.
It gives the narcissist information about each person they can then use at a later time to get something they want or need. Given the narcissist’s damaged sense of identity, it’s almost as if they are studying other people’s reactions to the dramatic situations that play out in their lives.
The narcissist picks up on coping strategies, fears, and emotional wounds, and they then use that knowledge to manipulate the people they love. For a narcissistic grandmother, there is nothing better and more empowering than creating drama in their child’s family.
They will use their manipulative tactics to get the whole family fighting, and they can ruin the family. They can create such division that relationships are left fractured. In her distorted version of reality, when the people she loves are at each other’s throats, they have nowhere to turn but to their narcissistic grandmother.
11. Narcissistic Grandmothers Use “Flying Monkeys”
The term ‘flying monkeys’ comes from the movie, The Wizard of Oz. You might remember the wicked witch of the west had flying monkeys who helped her carry out her mayhem. Well, a narcissistic grandmother often has flying monkeys too.
She may use her other grandchildren, her spouse, your friends, or even your spouse to effectively spy on her grandchildren and find out information that she can use as she tries to manipulate her loved ones.
Flying monkeys are often people she has convinced to help her. She may have told them that her grandchildren are being abused, or by using projection, she may try to claim that their parents are narcissists and she needs to protect her grandchildren.
There are even cases of narcissistic grandmothers trying to take custody of their grandchildren away from their own children. They can honestly believe they would be superior parents. While such attempts at obtaining custody are seldom successful unless there is clear evidence of wrongdoing by the parents, it’s a stressful process to have to defend yourself.
Still, if a narcissistic grandmother did want to try to do this, she might use flying monkeys to gather information for her case. You should be wary of anyone you don’t know snooping around your house and your children. You’ll also want to talk to your immediate family if you suspect this is happening.
A narcissistic grandmother is far from the kindly old woman stereotype we like to believe. She can be cold and calculating, and nothing she does is without an agenda. She wants to manipulate and control her grandchildren just like anyone else in her life. She won’t hesitate to go after them as she did you when you were a child. It can be difficult to protect them, but one thing that helps is if you can teach them how to control their own emotions.
My 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers can help you teach them how to recognize their emotional triggers and defuse them. They can even learn to identify the original emotional wound and heal it. If they can do that, their narcissistic grandmother won’t be able to use their own emotions against them. She won’t be able to push their buttons. To receive a free copy of this handy guide, just click on this link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox. It can help your children avoid emotional abuse and bring your family closer together too.
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