How To Set Boundaries With Narcissistic ParentsFeb 17, 2023
Setting boundaries can be hard enough; setting boundaries with our parents can be even more so. Even in adulthood, we will often look to our parents as more authoritative than ourselves. There is still this hierarchy, and setting boundaries against our parents can be uncomfortable. If our parents are narcissists, it can feel impossible.
A narcissistic parent will often treat their children as a source of validation or as a projection of their insecurities. The children are extensions of the parent, to be poised and positioned as the parent wishes.
A narcissistic parent will put their own needs in front of everyone else's, even their children’s. Because of this, it can be extremely difficult to establish and enforce boundaries. A narcissist will push against boundaries and be intrusive to get a response or validation that they are craving.
When you're looking to set boundaries with a narcissistic parent, here are some tips to help you.
Be Mindful Of What You Say
It would be best if you thought about what to say and are very clear with your wording. Having a plan is key. The narcissist will try to twist your words around to confuse you and make them seem like the victim. When you speak, you will need to be clear and concise. Think and choose your words carefully.
Know What Your Limits Are
Boundaries keep you safe and help you focus on what you need mentally and physically. You need to be able to know what your limits are, and you need to be able to understand and say what it is you will accept and what you will not tolerate.
Being assertive does not mean being aggressive; it means being direct with what you want. It means being calm, maintaining eye contact, speaking in a direct and clear manner, and presenting yourself confidently. Being assertive with a parent can be hard. If you need help being assertive, look at it like you are putting on a mask of someone who is confident, strong, and in charge.
Stay Focused On Them
Don't let them pull you in different directions. Keep the conversation focused on them and the boundary that you are setting. Don't take the bait if they try to goad you into an argument. They want to get a reaction from you, don't give it to them. Every time they try to derail the conversation or steer it in a different direction, refocus the conversation back.
End The Conversation When Necessary
Once the conversation derails or becomes toxic, end it and leave. A narcissist may try to push and fight you at every turn. Once a conversation fully derails, it does not matter how much you are prepared. You have lost control of that conversation and will likely not get it back. Continuing to engage won't accomplish anything and will continue to spiral further away. You need to be mindful of how the conversation is going and move on once the conversation causes more harm than good.
Don't Justify Yourself
Your boundaries are just that, yours. You don't need to give anyone in-depth reasoning as to why. Narcissists' goal is to get into your head and get you to second-guess yourself. The quickest way to do that is to force you to explain why and then twist what you say around and around until you are so tied up that you can’t defend or justify why you need these boundaries.
Let Go Of Any Guilt
You should not feel guilty about setting boundaries. When it comes to our parents, toxic or not, we can feel that we owe them. That setting these boundaries will hurt them. That we don't have the right to say what we will or won't accept from them. But boundaries are healthy and necessary for everyone and should be respected. This is about YOUR health and safety, and you shouldn't be concerned about how protecting yourself will offend other people.
When you start setting and enforcing your boundaries, you can expect the narcissist to push back. They will try arguing, blaming, and will try to twist the situation. They are fighting for your attention and to get a reaction from you, so it is important that you don't feed into their ego. Just keep yourself calm and continue to enforce the boundaries that you need.