Narcissism

So You're Stuck at Home With Your Narcissist Parent

The pandemic has taken away your freedom from the narcissist.

Posted Apr 05, 2020

Photo by Alessandro Bellone on Unsplash
Your narcissist parent can turn quarantine into a nightmare.
Source: Photo by Alessandro Bellone on Unsplash

You have a narcissist/gaslighter for a parent. Going to work was your reprieve from the narcissist's antics. Work was like a vacation. Or maybe you only had to see your parents on weekends. Even then, you kept the visits short. But now your parent is living with you during the quarantine. 

How do you cope when you are now stuck in the house 24/7 (for the foreseeable future) with a narcissist? You're reverting to old behavior patterns, and you're starting to not recognize yourself. 

Keep in mind that the following may not be long-term solutions to your relationship with a narcissistic parent. Also, this post applies if your narcissistic parent is relatively self-sufficient, and you are not in the role of sole caretaker

Does the Narcissist Need to Be There?

If you are finding life with the narcissist intolerable, it may be time to see if you or the narcissist can stay at another location. It may mean that either of you needs to self-quarantine for two weeks, but the alternative is being stuck in one place with your narcissist parent. If you have children at home, and the narcissist is your parent, the narcissist is the one who needs to leave. Nothing says you have to tolerate them at your home.  

Have Scheduled Alone Time

Set up times when each of you has a specific area to yourself. You may tell them that you will be watching a show from 8-9 p.m. in the family room, and that they are welcome to use that room afterward. If the narcissist insists that they must also watch a show at the same time in the same room (typical), give them another option or cede the room to them. The point is to get time to yourself. If backing down means you still get another space to yourself, so be it. Remember, this is a temporary solution.    

React with a Nonreaction

The narcissist will try to stir up drama, even if it is disagreeing with you over a simple thing. Don't give in to reacting with emotion, as difficult as that may be. Narcissists/gaslighters feed off explosive emotion. Act bored or confused when the narcissist tries to pick a fight. When they say something they know is a hot button for you, try responding with, "I'm really confused about that." Acting bored or confused repels narcissists. You are no longer a challenge to them. 

Use the "Broken Record" Technique

Another way to avoid giving the narcissist any ammunition is to repeat your answers over and over. The narcissist is looking to pick you apart. Sometimes a simple "no" repeated every time the narcissist asks you a provoking question can do the trick. Again, we are talking about survival in the same house temporarily, not long-term living. 

Treat Them Like They Are 6 Years Old

Narcissists are like grown-up 6-year-olds. They stomp and walk away when they don't get what they want. They purposely push people's buttons. What works with 6-year-olds usually works with them. That includes giving yourself a time-out.     

View This as a Sociologist

Pretend that you are collecting data for a sociological study. What behaviors do you notice in the narcissist? When you are able to detach from the behavior and look at it like you are doing a scientific study, the behavior may seem not to bother you as much anymore.  

Have House Rules 

Posting some basic house rules in a conspicuous place may be helpful for everyone, but especially when you have a narcissist in the house. Your narcissistic parent is bound to break the rules just because they exist. But when she claims that you are making up the rules, you can direct her to them. These can be standard rules of civilized behavior, such as "Speak respectfully," and "Use an indoor tone of voice." 

Model Good Behavior 

Your kids benefit from seeing healthy adult behavior. As much as you may want to stoop to the narcissist's level, don't take the bait. Your kids need to see how a grown-up should behave—now more than ever. Model for them how you interact appropriately with a difficult person.  

Know Your Limits

Know your "line in the sand" for the narcissist's behavior. If you catch the narcissist undermining your parenting, that may be cause for them to leave your home. If they engage in any verbal or physical abuse, that is grounds for them leaving your home. Just because there is a quarantine doesn't mean you have to tolerate abuse. Narcissists' behavior is a choice. And you can choose not to tolerate it.  

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