Jade Small
Jade Small
February 23, 2024 ·  3 min read

Should You Keep Narcissistic Grandparents Away from Your Kids?

How to handle the parent-child connection is a major challenge for many adult offspring of narcissistic parents. Even after trying to understand our parents’ dysfunction and the emotional or physical abuse we experienced as children, we may form inaccurate judgments about them being grandparents that might harm not only ourselves but our children as well. According to Psychology Today, there are certain assumptions to be mindful of.

5 Misconceptions About Narcissistic Grandparents

1. Wishing Won’t Heal: Breaking the Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse

Wishful hoping that our narcissistic parents might care for our kids more or treat them better than they did us indicates self-blame for their shortcomings. Adult children often believe we are unlovable and to blame for our parents’ abuse. We may imagine our kids will have our parents’ love we didn’t. Every youngster deserves love and care. Narcissists don’t respect others’ humanity, and your kids won’t be any different.

2. Time Marches On, Narcissism Entrenched: How Aging Exacerbates Narcissistic Traits

Age may have mellowed my parents. Age can make people more centered, accepting, and generous. This rarely happens with narcissists. Instead of accepting age-related losses and weaknesses, narcissists deepen their deliberate denials and projections and increase their victimhood and manipulation.

3. A Transactional Love: Cautioning the Childcare Exchange with Narcissistic Grandparents

Maintain grandparent-grandchild relationships. Like the good things our parents provided us, they may do good for our kids. Remember that narcissists always view relationships as transactional. Your parents will try to care for your kids for their position or service, just like they do with you. If they help monetarily or with childcare, there will always be a cost for you and your kids.

4. The Ripple Effect: How Grandparents’ Behavior Can Impact Children

Your parental issues should not affect your kids. Childhood is about developing oneself and interacting with others, and kids learn from their parents and other elder family members. If your children spend time with their grandparents, they will internalize their attitudes and behavior and your and your partner’s narcissistic family hierarchy roles. Your children will experience their grandparents’ hazardous, conditional “love” and it will shape their identity.

5. The Illusion of Protection: Why Shielding Kids from Narcissistic Grandparents Isn’t Enough

I can shield my kids from my parents’ narcissism. Many parents think they can let their kids spend time with their narcissistic grandparents without harming them. We can help our children cope and buffer some consequences, but we can’t let in the good without the terrible. Narcissists are antisocial, even towards children, treating them competitively, opportunistically, and without empathy. When her grandkids have wants or emotions that bother her, your narcissistic mother will disregard and pathologize them. Narcissistic fathers fat-shame their children or engage them in fat-shaming others.

Generational narcissism traumatizes everyone. Bullies like passive-aggressive or loud narcissists obtain energy from denigrating and exploiting others. They cause a destabilizing fear response—a sort of hyperarousal that may be subtle or intense—that disrupts brain development and depletes the body over time.

Common Narcissistic Grandparent Behaviors To Look Out For

Narcissistic grandparents exhibit the same negligent and abusive behaviors as other narcissists, with some distinctive patterns. The goal of the following behaviors is the same whether they are obvious or implied:

  • Assess your or your partner’s parenting.
  • Disregard familial rules
  • Financial control—gifts, dinners, trips, memberships, etc.
  • Sibling scapegoats and favorites
  • Play favorites and scapegoats between siblings
  • Classify family members as either/or
  • Use food and gifts as weapons
  • Family triangulation
  • Divide yourself and your kids.
  • Divide yourself and your partner.
  • Show off your kids to garner sympathy from friends and acquaintances.
  • Using promises and threats to control inheritance

Final Thoughts: Don’t Let Them Win 

Adult offspring of narcissistic parents may cut communication to protect themselves and their children. Others structure and contain parent-child time in ways that seem pleasant enough to warrant the drawbacks. Both ways, everyone loses—narcissism’s tragedy. So, the best thing you can do is not to let the narcissist win.

Read More: Why the Time Spend With Grandparents is Priceless

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