Subjective Reality of the Narcissistic/(Borderline) Parent

Preface:

Equivalence of Core Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Dynamics

Narcissistic and borderline personalities are variants of the same underlying core dynamics.  While their superficial presentations differ, both the narcissistic and the borderline personality have the same underlying core structures.

Narcissistic and borderline personality structures represent the coalesced product of the “internal working models,” or “schemas,” of the attachment system. 

The attachment system creates “internal working models” regarding expectations for self-in-relationship and other-in-relationship.  Within the attachment system for both the narcissistic and borderline personality structures, the internal working model for self-in-relationship is “I am fundamentally inadequate as a person” and the other-in-relationship expectation is that “I will be abandoned by the other because of my fundamental inadequacy.”

The difference between the narcissistic and borderline personalities is that the borderline personality experiences these core beliefs directly and continually, resulting in continually disorganized emotions and relationships, whereas the narcissistic personality is able to develop a psychological defense of narcissistic self-inflation that prevents the direct experience of self-inadequacy and fears of abandonment.  Instead, the narcissistic personality projects the self-inadequacy onto others, who the narcissist then devalues and rejects for their inadequacy.  Puncture the narcissistic defense, however, and the underlying borderline emotional disorganization becomes evident in hostile tirades of venom and vitriol.

Kernberg, O.F. (1975). Borderline conditions and pathological narcissism.. New York: Aronson.

“One subgroup of borderline patients, namely, the narcissistic personalities… seem to have a defensive organization similar to borderline conditions, and yet many of them function on a much better psychosocial level.” (p. xiii)

Subjective Reality

For the narcissistic-borderline personality structure, truth and reality are fluid constructs that are subject to the ever changing emotional needs of the moment.

For both the narcissistic and borderline personality structure, regulating their intense emotional distress originating from their core sense of primal self-inadequacy and fear of abandonment takes precedence over external restrictions, even the external restrictions placed on them by truth and reality.  If they need truth or reality to be different in order to regulate their emotions, then they simply assert a different truth, a different reality.

“Narcissists are neither disposed to stick to objective facts or to restrict their actions within the boundaries of social custom or cooperative living… Free to wander in their private world of fiction, narcissists may lose touch with reality, lose their sense of proportion, and begin to think along peculiar and deviant lines.” (Millon, 2011, p. 415)

For the narcissistic/borderline personality, there is no objectivity to reality or truth. Reality and truth are subjective experiences that can change as the subjectivity of the narcissistic or borderline personality requires.  If the narcissistic/borderline personality requires the sky to be red, they simply assert the sky is red, and that becomes reality. If 10 minutes later they need the sky to be green,  they simply assert that the sky is green and that becomes reality.

For the narcissistic and borderline personality structure, “truth and reality are what I assert them to be.”

If we try to hold them accountable to a set and verifiable reality, the narcissistic/borderline personality will unleash a hostile assault of accusations, creating communication chaos with unrelated accusations, fabricated distortions, and flat denial of reality that follow so rapidly upon one another that the factual accuracy of any accusation or denial can’t be addressed.

The ability to assert whatever truth and reality is required in the moment thrives in chaos and dies in clarity. As long as chaos reigns, the narcissistic/borderline personality is free to assert and change reality and truth as needed.

Theodore Millon, one of the premier experts in personality disorders, describes the narcissistic propensity to dissolve into idiosyncratic thinking that is unconnected to reality,

“Were narcissists able to respect others, allow themselves to value others’ opinions, or see the world through others’ eyes, their tendency toward illusion and unreality might be checked or curtailed. Unfortunately, narcissists have learned to devalue others, not to trust their judgments, and to think of them as naïve and simpleminded. Thus, rather than question the correctness of their own beliefs they assume that the views of others are at fault. Hence, the more disagreement they have with others, the more convinced they are of their own superiority and the more isolated and alienated they are likely to become. These ideational difficulties are magnified further by their inability to participate skillfully in the give-and-take of shared social life… They are increasingly unable to assess situations objectively, thereby failing further to grasp why they have been rebuffed and misunderstood. Distressed by these repeated and perplexing social failures, they’re likely, at first, to become depressed and morose. However, true to their fashion, they will begin to elaborate new and fantastic rationales to account for their fate. But the more they conjecture and ruminate, the more they lose touch, distort, and perceive things that are not there. They may begin to be suspicious of others, to question their intentions, and to criticize them for ostensive deceptions…

“Deficient in social controls and self-discipline, the tendency of CEN narcissists to fantasize and distort may speed up. The air of grandiosity may become more flagrant. They may find hidden and deprecatory meanings in the incidental behavior of others, becoming convinced of others malicious motives, claims upon them, and attempts to undo them. As their behaviors and thoughts transgress the line of reality, their alienation will mount, and they may seek to protect their phantom image of superiority more vigorously and vigilantly than ever. Trapped by the consequences of their own actions, they may become bewildered and frightened as the downward spiral progresses through its inexorable course. No longer in touch with reality, they begin to accuse others and hold them responsible for their own shame and failures. They may build a “logic” based on the irrelevant and entirely circumstantial evidence and ultimately construct a delusion system to protect themselves from unbearable reality.” (p. 415)

Yet the narcissistic/borderline personality can superficially present well, so that the extent of their psychopathology goes unnoticed, even by mental health professionals.  According to Cohen (1998),

“The perception [of narcissism in a patient] is hampered by the fact that narcissistic individuals may well be intelligent, charming, and sometimes creative people who function effectively in their professional lives and in a range of social situations (Akhtar, 1992; Hendler, 1975)… While narcissism is recognized as a serious mental disorder, its manifestations may not be immediately recognized as pathological, even by persons in the helping professions, and its implications may remain unattended to. (p. 197)

Beck et al., (2004) note that narcissists can display “a deceptively warm demeanor” (p. 241) and Millon (2011) describes that “when not faced with humiliating or stressful situations, CENs [confident-egoistic-narcissists] convey a calm and self-assured quality in their social behavior. Their untroubled and self-satisfied air is viewed by some as a sign of confident equanimity” (p. 388-389).

The borderline personality can also present well superficially. The borderline style will present as a victim of cruelty from others that elicits a nurturing/protective response from unsophisticated mental health professionals.  As long as these mental health professionals do not challenge the constructed “reality” presented by the borderline personality, then these mental health professionals will be co-opted into becoming allies within the splitting dynamic of the borderline personality, and will be rewarded with displays of gratitude as the all-good wonderfully understanding and protective other within the borderline’s splitting dynamic. 

Being the idealized, all-wonderful, perfectly understanding and protective other can be quite seductive for the naive and unsophisticated mental health professional, who is by nature a helpng person.  But it represents a failure of professional knowledge and understanding in favor of the personal ego-gratification of the mental health professional.

The borderline personality is quite adept at presenting in the victim role to elicit protective nuturance from others.  A leading figure in personality disorders, Aaron Beck, notes that is is often difficult even in his own clinic to recognize the borderline personality presentation,

“Underdiagnosis constitutes a big problem that results in insufficient treatment. In many cases we saw, it took years of fruitless attempts to treat these patients before it became clear they were in fact suffering from BPD [borderline personality disorder].” (Beck et al., 2004, p. 196)

Special Population

The children and families evidencing attachment-based “parental alienation” represent a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge, training, and expertise to professionally diagnose and treat. 

Among the domains of knowledge necessary is a professional level of expertise regarding the presentation features and underlying dynamics of narcissistic and borderline personality structures.  Expertise in narcissistic and borderline personalities is not typical for most child and family therapists since personality disorders are an extremely rare presentation in children, and a rare presentation in parents. 

Child and family therapists tend to focus on the common disorders of childhood, child oppositional-defiant behavior, attention deficits and hyperactivity, autism-spectrum problems.  A professional level of expertise in narcissistic and borderline personality characteristic presentations and dynamics is typically not something most child and family mental health professionals possess. 

In most, if not nearly all, cases of typical child and family issues the therapist can trust that the reports of parents are within an acceptable range of truth and reality.  This assumption is not necessarily accurate when interacting with narcissistic and borderline personalities.  Mental health professionals working with this “special population” of children and families require specialized professional knowledge, training, and expertise related to narcissistic and borderline personality characteristics and dynamics so that they may be alert for the profound distortions of truth and reality associated with narcissistic/borderline personality processes.

In addition, narcissistic and borderline personality dynamics are not necessarily easily recognizable.  However, narcissistic and borderline personality dynamics are DIRECTLY RELEVANT to the diagnosis and treatment of attachment-based “parental alienation” so that these personality dynamics are directly relevant to professional competence with this “special population” of children and families.

Professionals who are diagnosing and treating attachment-based “parental alienation” require specialized professional knowledge, training, and expertise for professional competence with this “special population” of children and families, and one of the most important domains of specialized expertise is in the recognition of narcissistic and borderline personality dynamics within the family.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

References

Beck, A.T., Freeman, A., Davis, D.D., & Associates (2004). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. (2nd edition). New York: Guilford.

Cohen, O. (1998). Parental narcissism and the disengagement of the non-custodial father after divorce. Clinical Social Work Journal, 26, 195-215

Millon. T. (2011). Disorders of personality: introducing a DSM/ICD spectrum from normal to abnormal. Hoboken: Wiley.

7 thoughts on “Subjective Reality of the Narcissistic/(Borderline) Parent”

  1. In the case of attachment-based “parental alienation” is it safe to say that one of the parents always has narcissistic/borderline personality disorder? Since this is a learned behaviour, is it likely that the child will also display the characteristics of this disorder?

    1. By definition, an attachment-based model for the construct of “parental alienation” requires the presence of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent. There is no way to achieve Diagnostic Indicator 2, the presence in the child’s symptom display of five specified narcissistic/borderline personality traits other than the child’s psychological influence by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

      If a family situation involves parent-child conflict but the child does not display all three diagnostic indicators for an attachment-based model of “parental alienation,” then some other process other than an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is responsible for the parent-child conflict. The processes of attachment-based “parental alienation” always involve the presence of a narcissistic/(borderline) personality with the allied and supposedly favored parent.

      Negative parental influence can occur outside of the presence of a narcissistic/(borderline) personality within the family and is called the child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through a cross-generational parent-child coalition with one parent against the other. Attachment-based “parental alienation” is one form of cross-generational parent-child coalition, a particularly malignant and virulent form, that occurs with the addition of parental narcissistic/(borderline) psychopathology.

      Will a child exposed to a narcissistic/(borderline) parent develop these characteristics as well? The answer is somewhat complicated. There will be a significantly elevated risk for the child’s development of charaterological issues along the lines of narcissistic and borderline traits. The developmental origins of narcissistic and borderline personality traits are to be found in distortions of the underlying “internal working models” of the attachment system. The formation of these underlying distortions in the attachment system that lead to the formation of narcissistic and borderline personality traits are the product of relationship trauma during childhood, called “complex trauma” or “developmental trauma.”

      This relationship trauma is passed on trans-generationally, meaning that the pathology is passed on across generations so that the pathology of the parent is transmitted to the children, although in a slightly less severe form with each trans-generational iteration. Also, the mediating influence of normal-range parenting from the non-pathological parent can also lessen the impact on the child of one parent’s psychopathology.

      Rappoport has a nice article available online, “Co-Narcissism: How We Accommodate to Narcissistic Parents” if you google the search terms, Rappoport and Co-Narcissism.

      In the research literature there is a study regarding the trans-generational transmission of borderline personality traits,

      Barnow, S. Aldinger, M., Arens, E.A., Ulrich, I., Spitzer, C., Grabe, H., Stopsack, M. (2013). Maternal transmission of borderline personality disorder symptoms in the community-based Griefswald Family Study. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27, 806-819,

      This study found that “maternal self-rated BPD symptoms predicted BPD features in offspring about 5 years later… BPD symptoms pass on from mother to child, even if the mother reported subthreshold BPD symptoms.” (p. 812)

      The particular pathological feature of most concern in the trans-generational transmission of relationship pathology is the transmission of the “role-reversal” relationship in which the child is used as a “regulatory other” to meet the emotional and psychological needs of the parent. This type of severe relationship pathology can be passed through several generations of parent-child relationships, and it is this type of pathological relationship that is a central feature of “parental alienation” in which the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is using the child, through the child’s induced rejection of the targeted parent, to meet the pathological emotional and psychological needs of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

      Kerig (2005) reports that “There is evidence for the intergenerational transmission of boundary dissolution within the family. Adults who experienced boundary dissolution in their relationships with their own parents are more likely to violate boundaries with their children (Hazen, Jacobvitz, & McFarland, this volume; Shaffer & Sroufe, this volume).” (p. 22)

      Kerig, P.K. (2005). Revisiting the construct of boundary dissolution: A multidimensional perspective. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 5, 5-42.

      An article by Macfie, McElwain, Houts, and Cox on the trans-generational transmission of role-reversal relationships is also relevant for understanding the risks posed to children from parental relationship pathology.

      Macfie, J., McElwain, N.L., Houts, R.M., and Cox, M.J. (2005) Intergenerational transmission of role reversal between parent and child: Dyadic and family systems internal working models. Attachment & Human Development, 7, 51-65.

      Craig Childress, Psy.D.

  2. Is there any way to “interview” a potential therapist to determine if they have the experience to deal with a parent with NPD and truly help a child in distress because that parent shows no empathy for the child’s feelings about anything?

    1. Is there a way to interview potential therapists? Not that I’m aware of. At least not without being expert yourself, and my estimate is that perhaps as many as 90% of child therapists will not be knowledgeable in the areas necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of attachment-based “parental alienation.”

      You can seek a therapist who is knowledgeable in Structural Family Systems therapy (principle theorist: Salvador Minuchin), but these therapists are rare because family systems therapy requires more advanced training than most general child therapists receive, and even if you find a knowledgeable therapist the fundamental problem will be the treatment-related need for the child’s protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery. If we cannot first protect the child from the psychological retaliation of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, how can we ask the child to expose his or her authenticity?

      Think of it like an infectious pathogenic agent (the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline parent) that is infecting the child’s attachment system. If we try to treat an infection with antibiotics but the child is continually being re-exposed to the pathogenic agent even as we are trying to eliminate the infection with the antibiotics, our treatment will fail. The first step in treating an infection is to isolate the child from the source of the pathogenic agent to prevent re-infection with the pathogenic agent even as we are cleansing the system, the body in the case of a physical infection and the child’s attachment system in the case of “parental alienation.”

      Treatment of attachment-based “parental alienation” requires the child’s protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery.

      Based on my knowledge and experience with this type of family pathology, I will no longer accept for treatment a case of attachment-based “parental alienation” without first acquiring the child’s protective separation from the distorting parental influence of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery. This will likely require the cooperation of the Court, so that the more fundamental question becomes how to obtain the cooperation of the Court. The answer is for no therapist anywhere to treat attachment-based “parental alienation” without first acquiring the child’s protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery. This will require Courts to either order the child’s protective separation during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery or else forgo professionally recommended treatment and abandon the child to developmental psychopathology.

      Once mental health speaks with a single voice, this decision can be placed before the Court, to either order a protective separation of the child or else to forgo treatment and abandon the child to developmental psychopathology.

      This then leads to the question of how to achieve this professional standard of no therapist anywhere treating attachment-based “parental alienation” without a protective separation. The answer is to achieve a professional definition of this group of children and families as a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge, training, and expertise to appropriately diagnose and treat, so that ALL therapists treating this “special population” will possess the necessary professional expertise in the nature of the pathology and its treatment. How is this achieved? By describing a model of “parental alienation” that is based entirely within established psychological principles and constructs that then allows for the establishment of professional “standards of practice” regarding the CONTENT of professional knowledge necessary to treat this “special population” of children and families. This is what an attachment-based model of “parental alienation accomplishes.

      Until mental health speaks with a single voice, however, there will be no solution to “parental alienation” available for a variety of reasons. Any solution we achieve must be for ALL targeted parents or there can be no solution for any individual targeted parent. Trying to find a solution for any specific case, for your specific case, without first establishing the solution for all cases will not be effective.

      In any specific case you can try to obtain the Court’s recognition of the psychopathology involved. In some specific cases this has been effective. If you achieve the Court’s recognition for the nature and degree of the psychopathology so that the Court orders the child’s protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery, then I would probably look to interventions like the “Family Bridges” program of Warshak or the “High Road to Family Reunification” protocol of Pruter. I have not reviewed the specific content of the “Family Bridges” protocol but I have reviewed the “High Roads” protocol and can recommend it. Both of these interventions are brief intensive psycho-educational interventions, and I’m aware that the “High Road” protocol of Pruter requires a follow-up stabilization period of treatment lasting several months, before the distorting parental psychopathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is reintroduced.

      The ultimate solution is for targeted parents to demand professional competence from the mental health profession. There is nothing “new” in any of the constructs used in an attachment-based model for the overall construct of “parental alienation.” All of the constructs and principles of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” are established and accepted psychological principles and constructs. In diagnosing and treating a severe distortion to the child’s attachment system within the context of parental narcissistic/(borderline) pathology, mental health professionals treating this “special population” of children and families should possess a foundational knowledge of the attachment system, including trauma reenactment, and personality disorder dynamics irrespective of their knowledge of the specifics of an attachment-based model for the construct of “parental alienation” that I describe.

      There is nothing “new” in any of the constructs used in an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.” All of these constructs and principles are well established and accepted psychological principles and constructs in professional psychology. Targeted parents must begin to demand professional competence and expertise from the mental health profession.

      In the medical profession, plastic surgeons are not allowed to treat cancer and podiatrists are not allowed to do brain surgery without first possessing the necessary professional knowledge and competence to diagnose and treat cancer or perform brain surgery. Why should mental health professionals be allowed to diagnose and treat issues about which they are fundamentally ignorant and uneducated? If a targeted parent is ever in a position of educating a mental health professional about the principles of attachment-based “parental alienation” then this is a clear indication that a plastic surgeon is treating cancer, i.e., that the mental health professional is practicing beyond the boundaries of professional competence in this specific case. Mental health professionals should possess sufficient expertise to educate the general public, not the other way around. You should not have to educate your physician about cancer if the physician is treating your cancer.

      So is there a way to interview therapists? How about the same way you would interview your physician treating your cancer, describe the symptoms and ask the physician what his or her diagnosis is. If the physician diagnoses your cancer as high blood pressure or diabetes, ask if it could instead be cancer. If the professional’s opinion is that your situation isn’t cancer, ask why. Ask for the reasons in your particular situation that makes it high blood pressure or diabetes and not cancer.

      Perhaps seek a second opinion, and if the two opinions differ ask that the two mental health professionals discuss the diagnosis and treatment plan.

      Yet, from my perspective, in order to solve “parental alienation” for any one family we must solve it for all families. The key is to establish this group of children and families as a professionally recognized and designated “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge, training, and expertise in specific content areas in order to appropriately diagnose and treat. Until we achieve this solution within professional mental health, the solution for targeted parents and their children will remain out of reach.

      Craig Childress, Psy.D.

      1. Thank you so much for this detailed reply. In this case, the situation falls under an article you wrote on false allegation of parental alienation where the parent accused of alienating the other parent is the normal parent attempting to protect the child from the severely narcissistic parent – the situation you describe as “A child seeking to avoid a relationship with a narcissistic parent represents an authentic response of the child to severe and chronic failures of parental empathy.” These normal parents walk a minefield trying to help a child with a truly emotionally abusive NPD parent who will NEVER accept that his child is less than 100% devoted to him, though the child is literally in tears telling the mother about the complete lack of being “heard”, constant “fighting” etc. Any attempt to give the child relief from the NPD parent will result in the normal mother being accused of the alienation AND the courts often fall for this and place the child with the abusive NPD parent. So we were hoping to find a way to be sure any therapist used for the child will not be charmed by the NPD and make the situation worse for the child. We will try your suggestion of interviewing the therapist as you would a physician for a cancer diagnosis. It is truly frightening for a normal parent to be in this position! Any reassurance given to the child that they are not “crazy” can be construed by others as alienation, And usually the normal parent has experienced these behaviors when she was married to the NPD and knows how true it all is.

  3. In cases of false allegations of “parental alienation” the narcissistic parent is actually the targeted parent who has failed to form a cross-generational coalition with the child, so that the child remains bonded to the normal-range parent. In cases of false allegations of “parental alienation” the child will not show the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation.” In particular, the child will continue to retain normal-range empathy. In addition, the favored parent will understand the importance for a child of having a bonded relationship with both parents.

    If one parent has a narcissistic/(borderline) personality, this arose from the childhood relationship trauma of this parent. The child should be taught compassion and tolerance for the emotional and psychological limitations of the narcissistic/borderline parent. Children benefit from a relationship with both parents, even parents with emotional limitations. Teaching the child values of compassion and empathy, whether for peers with developmental disabilities or for parents with personality failures, is fully in the best interests of the child.

    A normal-range healthy parent understands this, and so will support the child’s ongoing relationship with the other parent, even when this parent evidences severe emotional and psychological limitations. A capable and competent therapist can help in providing the child with balanced coping skills to deal with the pathology of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent. A narcissistic personality, however, will not tolerate guidance from the therapist that suggests failures from the narcissistic parent, so that a narcissistic parent is not likely to remain in joint therapy with the child for very long.

    If the child does not become seduced into the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, then the problematic interpersonal issue will become a high-level of parent-child conflict between the narcissistic/(borderline) parent and the child as the child asserts self-authenticity into the controlling dynamic of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent. The focus of support for the child should be on how to show appropriate respect, affection, and empathy for the narcissistic/(borderline) parent while still appropriately and calmly expressing self-authenticity.

    Normal-range parenting spans a range from more lax and permissive parenting to more structured and firm parenting. On a scale from 0 to 100, normal-range parenting would be in the range of 20 to 80. While professional psychology would tend to recommend balanced parenting that blends flexible and responsive dialogue with the calm and confident assertion of parental guidance and authority (somewhere in the range of 40 to 60 on a 100 point scale), parenting that extends beyond this mid-range balance is nevertheless within the normal-range and it is the legitimate prerogative of a parent to define the values within their family.

    The support of the healthier parent for the child’s positive and respectful relationship with the other parent, even if this parent has problematic personality traits, should avoid the therapist alliance with the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent. The profound absence of parental empathy from the narcissistic parent will become increasingly evident to the therapist as the child displays appropriate normal-range affection and respect for the parent while the narcissistic parent shows a limited capacity for self-insight and a limited tolerance for constructive guidance from the therapist.

    Along the spectrum of normal-range parenting, from the perspective of either individual parent the parenting practices of the other parent may appear problematic. For a parent on the more lax and permissive end of the spectrum, the parenting of a more firm and structured parent can appear overly harsh. While from the perspective of a firm and structured parent, the lax and permissive parenting of the other parent can appear too negligent and uninvolved. Yet from the balanced perspective of professional psychology, as long as each parent avoids the extremes of overly hostile and abusive parenting (range of 80-100) or pathologically neglectful parenting (range of 0-20), then broad latitude should be granted to parental prerogatives in establishing family values consistent with the culture and beliefs of the parent, and children should be encouraged to cooperate respectfully with the parent.

    When dealing with problematic parents (parents in the 70-80 or 20-30 range), children should be encouraged to develop empathy and compassion, and to cooperate as best they can with the parenting of the each parent individually. Parenting that is in the lax and permissive range tends to strengthen relationship formation (except as it approaches parental extremes of 0-20) while parenting in the firm and structured range tends to support the child’s maturational development (except as it approaches parenting extremes of 80-100).

    Problematic parenting from a narcissistic/(borderline) parent can ultimately provide a positive developmental challenge for the child’s increasing personal growth into compassion, empathy, and maturity. A focus by the healthy parent on the development of the child’s value system of compassion, empathy, tolerance, and respect, whether for a developmentally disabled peer or an emotionally challenged parent, rather than a focus on commiserating with the child’s complaints regarding the failures of the problematic parent, is likely to provide the healthiest parental approach .

    Craig Childress, Psy.D.

    1. THANK YOU! This really helps as a way to think about/approach this situation…I think the bottom line is that these kids with a narcissistic parent simply have a lifelong challenge ahead of them.
      Thank you so much for your time.

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