Narcissism is a personality disorder that involves an inflated sense of self-importance and manifests as an intense preoccupation with one’s own personal appearance, desires, and needs. Narcissists are selfish, domineering, and manipulative. They also lack empathy for others and routinely disregard for the needs of those around them. In this post we shall be looking at a very particular family dynamic – that of the narcissistic grandmother and the golden grandchild.
It is inevitable that having a narcissist in the extended family creates an environment of tension and instability.
A narcissistic grandparent will manipulate family members and play them off against each other, in the process creating instability within the family unit.
Such power battles cause discord and the resulting environment can be both stressful and damaging to the mental health of other family members caught in the crossfire.
The Narcissistic Grandmother
Narcissistic grandmothers can be difficult to interact with and often make family relationships tense.
To better understand the complexities of this situation, let’s take a look at the main characteristics and behaviors of these toxic grandparents.
Grandiosity. A narcissistic grandmother will usually have an inflated sense of self-importance, believing that she is superior to everyone else in the family and deserves special treatment.
She will often take credit for the successes of other family members and expects to be seen and treated as the leader of the family.
Manipulation. Narcissistic grandmothers tend to manipulate people around them in order to get their way and maintain control over people and situations.
They may use guilt trips or passive-aggressive behavior to pressure people to give them what they want.
Selfishness. Narcissistic grandmothers are often focused on getting their own needs met at others’ expense – expecting special privileges such as taking up the most space in a room or speaking the longest in conversations even when it is not warranted.
Lack of Empathy. A narcissistic grandmother lacks empathy, making her seem callous or uncaring toward other people’s feelings and experiences – especially those who don’t agree with her point of view.
Criticism. Narcissistic grandmothers are highly critical of others, always looking for flaws in other people that can be pointed out, mocked, or belittled, and which serves to further fuel their own superiority complex.
Need For Attention. Narcissistic grandmothers tend to demand constant attention from those around them and may become angry if they do not feel they are receiving enough validation from family members or friends.
The Narcissistic Grandmother and the Golden Grandchild
The golden grandchild is the favored child of the narcissistic grandmother. She is the one who gets all the attention and is the beloved center of her grandmother’s world.
This relationship can be both incredibly fraught yet deeply loving, as the golden grandchild often works hard to maintain her special position in her grandmother’s life.
The following are some of the ways that the narcissistic grandmother treats her golden grandchild.
Possessiveness. A narcissistic grandmother may be overly possessive and controlling of the golden grandchild, expecting them to always act in accordance to her wishes.
Envy. She is likely to be envious of the child’s accomplishments, rather than feeling proud of them and celebrating with them.
Unrealistic expectations. The golden grandchild may feel like their successes are never good enough for her, no matter how hard they work or how far they come.
Manipulative. Narcissistic grandmothers can be manipulative, often using guilt-trips or other strategies to get what they want from the golden grandchild.
Overly critical. Grandmothers may also criticize the child’s appearance or performance and actively try to undermine their self-esteem as a way of keeping control over them.
Plays favorites. She will play favorites between siblings or cousins and make sure that it is clear which one she likes best – the golden grandchild.
The Impact on the Golden Grandchild
The narcissistic grandmother can have long-term, damaging effect on the life of the golden grandchild.
In adulthood, the golden grandchild may struggle with low self-esteem and depression as a result of the constant manipulation and guilt-tripping they experienced from their grandmother.
They may also have difficulty expressing themselves authentically or living according to the values that are important to them as a result of being so tightly controlled during childhood.
This is because rather than helping the child develop their own opinions and beliefs, the narcissistic grandmother forced her own views and expectations on them, leading to feelings of confusion and resentment.
Having such an overly controlling or critical figure in their life can also cause the child to become very afraid of making mistakes, leading to a lack of confidence in themselves and their abilities.
There is also the danger that they develop codependent tendencies, leading to problems in their relationships with other family members, friends, and romantic partners in later life.
Protecting the Golden Grandchild from her Narcissistic Grandmother
Parents can protect their child from the damaging effects of their narcissistic grandmother by creating boundaries, setting a positive example and intervening if necessary.
Boundaries should include limits on how much time the child spends with their grandmother, in order to minimise contact as much as possible.
Furthermore it is important that the child is not left alone with their grandmother during visits, as this could leave them vulnerable to manipulation and emotional abuse.
It is also important that parents do not allow the narcissistic grandmother to dictate how their child is raised or disciplined.
Instead, it is important for parents to set consistent rules and expectations so that their child has a safe, healthy environment in which to grow and develop.
In addition to these protective measures, parents need to be willing and ready to intervene if they notice their child’s narcissistic grandmother belittling them, manipulating their emotions or engaging in other manipulative behaviors such as unhealthy or unfair comparisons to other children.
And finally, it is important for parents to model healthy communication techniques so that their children have a positive example of how to interact with others.
How can the Golden Grandchild undo the damage caused by the Narcissistic Grandmother
Unfortunately the damage wrought by a narcissistic grandmother can last well into adulthood for the golden child.
However, by taking proactive steps to heal from the trauma, they will be able to break free and life a healthy and well-adjusted life.
Take Time for Self Care
A narcissistic grandmother can cause a lot of damage, and it’s important to take time for yourself to recover from the trauma.
This may include activities such as exercise, getting enough sleep, talking to friends and family about your feelings, and doing things that make you feel happy.
Additionally, it is important to recognize when you are beginning to feel overwhelmed so that you can take steps to manage your emotions and practice self-care.
Seek Professional Help
If the situation is causing long-term emotional or psychological distress, seeking professional help could be beneficial.
Speaking with a therapist can help you work through any issues you may have, particularly because they have the appropriate training and experience in dealing with mental health issues stemming from toxic relationships.
Improve Your Boundaries
To ensure that your narcissistic grandmother does not continue to cause damage in your life, set clear boundaries with her if at all possible.
This may involve limiting how much time you spend together or keeping interactions as brief as possible.
Reach Out For Support
Toxic family relationships are difficult to navigate alone. This is why it is important to build supportive networks outside of your family dynamic where possible.
This could involve leaning on close friends or having meaningful conversations with a mentor or therapist, so that you don’t feel isolated during difficult times.
Asking for help can make all the difference in protecting yourself against further manipulation by providing additional social support outlets as well as emotional guidance when needed.
Final Thoughts about the Outlook for the Golden Grandchild
The outlook for the golden grandchild can be a positive one if they are willing to take proactive measures to heal from the trauma that was inflicted on them.
With the right tools and resources in place, the golden grandchild has a chance to undo the damage caused by their narcissistic grandmother and live a life of growth, resilience, and joy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Narcissistic Grandmothers
How can I identify if my grandmother is a narcissist?
Some common signs of a narcissistic grandmother include constantly seeking attention, belittling or manipulating others, having a grandiose sense of self-importance, and displaying a lack of empathy towards others, including her own grandchildren.
How does a narcissistic grandmother affect her grandchildren?
A narcissistic grandmother can have a significant impact on her grandchildren’s emotional well-being.
They may experience emotional manipulation, neglect, or even abuse.
Growing up with a narcissistic grandmother can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and difficulties in forming healthy relationships.
How can I protect my children from a narcissistic grandmother?
Setting boundaries is crucial when dealing with a narcissistic grandmother.
Limiting exposure to toxic behavior, establishing clear rules and expectations, and seeking support from other family members or professionals can help protect your children from the negative effects.
How can I cope with the emotional impact of having a narcissistic grandmother?
Coping with the emotional impact of having a narcissistic grandmother can be difficult.
Seek support from friends, family, or support groups who can provide understanding and guidance.
Engaging in self-care activities, setting boundaries, and practicing self-compassion can also help in managing the emotional toll.
Can a narcissistic grandmother have a positive relationship with her grandchildren?
While it may be challenging, some narcissistic grandmothers can have positive interactions with their grandchildren.
However, it is crucial to establish healthy boundaries, seek professional guidance, and ensure the well-being of the children involved.