Mental health, Narcissism, Relationships

4 ways to survive Christmas with your narcissistic parents

Christmas dinner table with a book on a plate

Is that time of the year. When you go home for Christmas to your narcissistic parents and they ask you even before unpacking or taking off your coat if you brought them any presents. Or they criticize your new haircut.

You get worked up inside wondering why can’t they say ‘Hello’ first and be normal like other parents. You’re wondering when are they gonna change. However, you brush this thought off and take a seat on the sofa in the hallway. You notice that your parents don’t even look at you or talk to you. They talk to each other. They’re in an argument. Your mother calls out your father for not being polite to you and he’s getting worked up. He starts yelling at her. At this point, your anxiety levels grow higher and higher.

You then decide to leave them alone and retreat to a quiet place. But, OMG! You realize that it has only been ten minutes since you’ve arrived.

How are you going to survive the entire Christmas with them?

If you were raised by narcissistic parents, this scenario might be familiar to you. It might not have happened exactly the same but if you ever visited your parents for Christmas from abroad (or another city) you know that it’s only a matter of time until conflict and tension will rise and the atmosphere at home will make you wanna pull your hairs out. You forgot how it was to throw passive aggressive statements at others, to provoke others by offending their looks, intelligence or opinions.

This is exactly how I felt in my family home, especially around holidays. There is one exception, though. I couldn’t retreat to a quiet spot in the house because I wasn’t let by myself. Whenever I came home for holidays as a student, I was wanted in the kitchen for a huge part of the day, every day. I had to help mom with cooking or listen to my dad when he’d tell his stories or life lessons. It didn’t matter if I had something to say or not, they just had to have me there.

Now that I don’t have to spend holidays with them anymore as I severed the contact with my entire family, I wonder how other people with narcissistic parents face this time of the year. Therefore, I decided to compile a list of ways to manage Christmas when you’re stuck at home with your toxic family.

1. Don’t give them reasons to pick on you

Agree with whatever they say about your Christmas duties. If they offend you and it hurts a lot, go out of the house and spend time with a close friend. Tell him/her how awful your parents make you feel. Expressing your hurt feelings to a person you trust is going to make you feel better. If your friend is supportive, it will give you strength and confidence to deal with your family.

2. Pay them compliments

If you were raised by narcissistic parents, you know that they love attention and praise. Then, give them what they need. Give praises to their Christmas decorations, food and the presents they bought. (even though you hate their presents each year because they make it about them)

Remember that unhealthy narcissism is caused by extreme abuse or trauma in the parent’s life. In order for the parent to deal with the traumatic event, he or she developed a false self that is ‘perfect’ in their eyes. However, in order for the parent to keep up the illusion of this perfect self, he/she needs constant praise and adulation. You can’t change a narcissist, so it’s better to agree with them to not get hurt.

3. Don’t react emotionally

In order to have peace of  mind at Christmas, use Gray Rock like your life depended on it. Gray Rock is a method of keeping yourself in a calm and non-reactive way. For example, if your mother picks on the clothes you are wearing, tell her ‘It is interesting that you don’t like my outfit’. If she asks why, you can say that people have different tastes and you don’t have to be alike. Then, change the subject and don’t allow her to delve into the same issue.

Sacha Slone is a narcissistic abuse expert who talks about Gray Rock on You Tube. Learn more about this method from her video below.

4. Take regular ‘breaks’

Another method of dealing with narcissistic parents around Christmas is to take breaks. If your father starts insulting you at the dinner table, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. Or go outside and take a breath of that freezing air. Until you come back, your dad has already forgotten about your discussion and he might be engaged in a conversation with another relative. If your parents pissed the hell out of you, you can go out and take a walk to the city or in the park. You can swear and call them assholes there without being afraid that they’re gonna hear you. Release the anger energy that you accumulated during a heated discussion at lunch or dinner.

All in all, being with your self-involved parents for Christmas might be a difficult task. Yes, you want them to change and treat you better but that’s not going to happen. Using the coping strategies above will help you get over this period of year that, unfortunately doesn’t bring joy and glitters but only tears and fears. And, please remember that you always have the option to stay home or travel somewhere instead of seeing your family. Don’t feel obligated to spend time with your narcissistic family members if that doesn’t make you feel good.

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Merry Xmas.

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2 thoughts on “4 ways to survive Christmas with your narcissistic parents

  1. Good read Marlena thx. I had these kind of problems with my dad but now that he’s gone we’re just skipping christmas altogether by escaping to Tenerife, which is a great solution as now that the family is broken the whole idea of christmas celebration feels grotesque and masochistic, only bringing back memories of how our family was still happy, long ago.