When you think of grandparents, you picture a cute old couple with unconditional love for your babies. They can be wonderful influences and great mentors for their grandchildren who will often go to great lengths to ensure your little one is happy.
But not all grandparents are the picture of sunshine and rainbows; some can be quite toxic for your kid’s well-being. In this article, we’ll discuss what narcissistic grandparents’ tactics you need to keep a look out for to protect your children from toxic adults.
Understand The Definition Of “Narcissistic” Grandparents
There is no standard definition of narcissistic grandparents. They do what narcissists do, but some strategies are more suitable to their role as a secondary caregivers to your children. If you suspect either or both grandparents have a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), look out for these obvious signs:
• They need to be the center of attention and feel loved.
• They have an over-inflated ego and a sense of self-importance.
• They lack boundaries.
• They have a sense of entitlement.
• They demand that they be treated with respect.
• They undermine your (their child’s) authority.
• They exhibit “mean girl” behavior, pointing out flaws that kids don’t have any control over.
• They have a tragic lack of empathy for anyone’s feelings but their own.
Having this type of person in your life can disrupt your family dynamic and can be highly detrimental to your child’s emotional health.
6 Tactics Of Narcissistic Grandparents: The More You Know
Children are innocent and naive, especially when it comes to their grandparents. This also makes them very gullible. Hence, it is imperative that you’re aware of narcissistic grandparents’ tactics so you can keep them from feeding on the vulnerability of your little ones. Take a look at some of the most common tactics that narcissists use:
1. Buying Loyalty
Narcissistic people tend to buy their way into their grandchildren’s life. They will often shower their grandchildren with gifts, especially ones their parents couldn’t or wouldn’t get them for some reason. As we are wired to feel gratitude towards the gift-giver, this exchange establishes a special relationship between the child and the grandparent, fostering a relationship based on loyalty.
And because your kids get the gifts against your express wishes, it shows that you have no parental authority, which creates confusion in the mind of your little ones.
2. Filling A Need For Attention And Admiration
Narcissistic grandparents present themselves as compassionate people, offering their grandchildren advice and endless emotional support in a way that portrays the parents in a bad light. This may seem innocent enough, but it fosters a culture where your kid turns to their grandparents whenever they need help, which fills their need for constant attention and admiration.
3. Fostering Divisions
Narcissistic grandparents try to isolate their grandchildren from their siblings, parents, and other family members. This is done to take complete control over communication between family members and eliminate any support system in place. The result is that the grandkids don’t have anyone to turn to and get an outside perspective on their relationship, which may reveal abuse (if any).
Gaslighting is a common type of abuse that narcissists use to make their victims question their sanity. They’ll either blatantly lie about what happened, offer another version of their victim’s story and make up gossip that makes them seem emotionally challenged, or make them believe that they are overly sensitive.
This is done to gain power and control over their grandchildren by undermining their confidence and making them doubt their feelings and perception of reality. This morally depraved behavior has its roots in psychopathy, and its effects can last a lifetime.
Manipulation is another tactic that narcissists rely on. Narcissistic grandparents will play divide and control by telling one grandchild one thing and something entirely different to the other. They may even involve their own children in this mess, creating an incredibly damaging culture of triangulation.
Creating misunderstandings and chaos gives them an ego boost but causes rifts between family members, resulting in drama — just what your average narcissistic person thrives on.
6. Picking Favorites
Narcissistic grandparents will make one grandchild the center of all their attention, love, and affection to take control of them. To the other grandchildren, they will either be indifferent or point out flaws to make them feel bad.
The idea behind this tactic is to get their grandchildren to compete for their attention, and while it does that, it can create a divide between siblings time may not heal.
How Can You Protect Your Children From Narcissistic Grandparents?
As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. Sometimes, that means keeping an eye out for narcissistic tactics and doing everything in your power to ensure they’re not a threat to your child’s mental, emotional, and sometimes physical well-being.
If you know or suspect your child’s grandparents are narcissists, here are some expert-backed ways in which you can protect your children from such toxic behaviors and even prevent any long-term damage to their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Let your child’s narcissistic grandparents know what is acceptable and what is not. It would also be a good idea to familiarize them with the consequences of violating these boundaries, which could mean limiting contact or having no contact at all.
Limit the time your children spend with their toxic grandparents, and make sure the calls and visits are supervised and in a public space, such as a park or your child’s favorite restaurant. This will bring some structure into your child’s life while allowing you to monitor what kind of conversations and behaviors your child is witnessing.
Go No Contact
If your child’s grandparents have been wreaking havoc on your children’s health and don’t back down even when you ask them to, it may be time to cut ties with them. Cutting ties isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it can have a ripple effect on your entire family, but it is essential to protect your children from harm.
Most importantly, offer your children unconditional love and emotional support without expecting anything in return. It will also help if you have a sit down with your kids to help them understand that love shouldn’t be transactional and to trust their intuition, which can help them spot toxic behavior miles away.