Will narcissists see the light as history is being made around them? Spouses, parents, children, and others are quarantined in their homes. How does the narcissistic man fare in these close quarters? Can he relinquish his need for superiority, endless explanations of all his knowledge, the need for exceptional attention and validation, a yearning to dominate? I’ll speak of men because they are the majority of narcissists, but you may think of women you know as well.
Living in close quarters, be it in a mansion or a small few bedroom flat, narcissists want center stage. But being self-centered day in and day out under these circumstances of uncertainty and illness isn’t the place for the man who likes to revel in his grand reputation in the world. If he wants to stay well and keep others well, he like everyone else, needs to keep social distance. Suddenly, we’re all equals facing these times. A trait of humility narcissists don’t have.
The Narcissistic Parent
Typically, the narcissistic parent wants to be revered and dominate his kids. He wants his expectations for them to be their expectations for themselves. But their world has dramatically changed. They are being tutored by their parents and/or taking up the challenge of online distance learning instead of getting out of the house daily to be with their peers in school. Their narcissistic father may be too demanding, too commanding, and wanting too much of their not only respectful, but nearly absolute regard as number one when they have their own needs on their minds.
Parents during these times need to be able to talk and listen carefully to their kids’ needs (see previous post) as they adapt to these changes. Teens, especially, may feel irritated and angry because their natural desire for independence is being curbed because they stay at home for hours upon hours.
If emotions flare up, can the narcissistic father not take it personally? Since empathy isn’t his strong suit, this is difficult. It also isn’t his tendency to think of his impact on others, such as his kids, but rather their impact on him.
Narcissists want to benefit from relationships with others, even their children who they want to view him as exceptional in their eyes. But these kids’ lives are different now. Maybe they were able to focus on their father’s self-absorbed needs if he came home for a few hours after work, but not now, all day long. Making their father think he’s always correct, knows the most, and is the most important is too much to expect of kids at any time but now it’s especially difficult.
So, are kids lashing out? Are these fathers lashing back— instead of learning how to be understanding and not take their kids’ needs for security and safety as a priority?
How to Get Along and Effect Change in the Narcissist During Times of Stress
Suddenly because daily life has changed, the narcissist may be one of the people who find it most difficult to adapt. Suddenly he is not the center of attention. He may know someone who’s ill. He may be coming down with symptoms himself. He is neither immune physically nor emotionally above these circumstances, so how do we help him? Yes. Help this man who makes you so angry and feel so uncared for so often.
Can these historical changes affect personality changes? There’s no research on this. WE are making the history now. It seems possible, if everyone is aware that hidden behind the superior attitude of the narcissist are feelings of inferiority. To help him, give him merit when it’s deserved and praise him when he thinks of others. Doing this often, may loosen up his narcissistic grip.
Now, let me share some tips that might begin to help everyone live together more civilly if not eventually more empathically.
Empathic Adults Can Share These Tips with their Kids
- Find ways to have psychological space. Certainly, physical space helps this like going out for walks and bike rides keeping in mind social distance of course.
- Give the narcissistic dad time to talk about himself. It might be annoying, but he can’t change overnight and expects and needs lots of attention. It may seem unfair to make him a priority, presuming you are feeling well, but it will calm him, relax him, feel cared for, something we all need in different ways. Attention is his way.
- If you as the non-narcissistic parent notice your child or teen feels too dominated by their narcissistic dad, suggest to your kids to hold back their criticism while excusing themselves politely and do their own thing apart from him. Anger begets anger in narcissists. So, help your child channel those feelings to give them the energy to develop their own interests away from their father. In other words, avoid power struggles.
- Empathy doesn’t come easily to narcissists, so advise your kids not to feel personally rejected if their dad doesn’t have regard for their struggles adapting to change. Remind your child privately, it’s not their fault their dad is out of sorts no matter what he may blame them for. This is tough on the other parent and a lot to expect from kids but encourage them to treat their dad as they wish to be treated—understanding he’s out of his element. It’s a hard lesson to learn in hard times, but maybe an empathic one that will serve them in other ways with other people.
- Encourage kids to go online with their friends, have good video chats to feel less isolated.
- Kids learn by example. So, if you, as the partner of a narcissist, feel mistreated, not spoken to kindly, or appreciated, try to keep in mind this is the narcissistic partner’s way of expressing his own discontent and even hidden inferiority. Do your level best to not take his unkind words to heart AS IF you deserve them. Monitor your own self-esteem and treat yourself well and your kids will see how your narcissistic partner isn’t throwing you off kilter.
- Remember to praise your kids for their empathic responses to others in earshot of the narcissist. It’s not only important for your kids to be praised so specifically for their attempts at understanding others, but may demonstrate for the narcissist something essential to keep in mind: empathy during unusual times of uncertainty.