Happy play time filled with discovery and exploration rather than scheduled camps during the Pandemic may be difficult to carry out if a child is faced with a self-centered, self-absorbed, highly controlling, self-involved, unempathic parent who places his expectations and needs ahead of his kids ALL the time.
In some households kids who have been shielded from the strain of living with a narcissistic parent because he or she goes out to work, now find this parent directing their movements to meet the adult’s not the kid’s needs. This is a serious challenge for kids beyond the scope of this article, but a challenge worth touching on.
Kids Who Parent Parents
When a parent expects their kids to parent them, that is wait on them all the time, only follow their parental dictates about what to do and when, these are very challenged kids who may feel isolated more than most kids during the Pandemic. Why? Because this parent is ever-present in their daily lives not encouraging free play and innovative ways to spend their time.
The narcissistic parent’s way is the only way or kids are criticized, punished, made to feel guilty for doing nothing but trying to have some independence, and often quite scared. As if the Pandemic itself and demonstrations in their cities aren’t disturbing enough, to live with someone who actually victimizes them in their own home from normal growth and development is bewildering, confusing, frightening, and interferes tremendously with building one’s own sense of self with one’s own mind.
Kids become afraid to express their own beliefs, opinions, intentions, and feelings because they might not agree with the narcissistic parent’s views. This interferes with their growth and development, stifles them, and defies all boundaries needed between parents and kids. The worldly stressors at hand now make these particular kids invisible. It creates a huge challenge for the non-narcissistic parent who probably also fears confronting their spouse.
When the non-narcissistic probably empathic parent is now isolated with their spouse and kids, tensions increase exponentially. Narcissists aren’t generally violent physically, but emotionally they rule the household. It takes a lot of courage for the non-narcissistic parent to seek mental health professionals to talk to remotely online to got video support and guidance. But such professionals are definitely out there and on alert for this potential problem.
I strongly encourage such parents to seek outside help even if they need to do so secretly at first in a closed room online. This will decrease your family’s isolation appreciably, help connect with the outside world, and get recommendations for then sharing with the narcissistic parent the choice made to open such restricted family life to a confidential outsider.
Such courage is difficult but immensely healing over the long haul. By the time the world opens up again, that professional can continue to see the non-narcissistic parent and kids in person firming the gains made during isolation. Even having the courage to begin this path is healing.
(Hollman, Are You Living with a Narcissist? How Narcissistic Men Impact Your Happiness, How to Identify Them, and How to Avoid Raising One, 2020.)