The best medicine for children of narcissists, according to Behary, is having people to mediate: friends, other family members, or a mentor who can step in and intervene. I've come to rely on my friends, sister, and boyfriends for emotional support. They've helped me see that my value doesn't come from being married, having kids, or climbing to the highest ladder-rung in my job. Those relationships have boosted my confidence, so now I don't have to wonder, "What would mom think?"
In addition to surrounding yourself with loving friends, Campbell recommends encouraging Mom when she is empathetic or caring by telling her what a good parent she is. Use their personality to your advantage, and hopefully they'll increase the behavior that you want in the long run.
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Behary suggests a different approach: holding Mom accountable. Narcissists don't like to hear about their faults and will often become aggressive when they're confronted with mistakes. (When I told my mother that there were aspects of my high school years that I would have changed, she told me that she thought she'd been a "perfect parent.") But Behary advises that daughters set boundaries and create accountability. She recommends using a script that gives Mom the benefit of the doubt: "I know you care about me, but it's hurtful when you do this." Be prepared for her to say that she's only thinking of you and be ready to politely restate your position ("Thank you, I appreciate your concern for me, but I'm telling you how I feel.") Mom may never have been told that what she's doing hurts you—and that may be enough to get her to change.
In other cases, the only way to deal with mom's behavior is through an ultimatum. Behary often tells narcissistic mothers that they must either learn how to work within boundaries or lose the relationship with their daughter.
"You have leverage," Behary said "and can say, 'I don't want us to lose our relationship, but I'm afraid that's where we're headed because I'm finding it intolerable.'" Ultimately, says McBride, the daughter of a narcissist has to decide if she wants to have simply civil contact with Mom (if any at all) instead of the intrusive, encompassing relationship she's been used to.
Whatever your approach, your boyfriend will need to be prepared to meet her. McBride recommends prepping him to answer a barrage of questions or criticisms about clothes, cars, education, or job. The goal is to help keep him from coming away feeling judged. After that, you can create a united front and build support to enforce boundaries. How To Ease Mother-In-Law Conflict
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I'm still figuring out how I ultimately want to deal with my own mother. But, in the meantime, I've surrounded myself with supportive friends who help tear down my distorted ideas. I'm beginning to understand that relationships can be successful even if they don't end in marriage and that I'm good enough with or without a partner. I've come away from my most recent relationship confident that I'll meet someone who loves me for who I am, regardless of what Mother thinks.