17 thoughts on “Are We Obligated to Care for Aging Narcissistic Parents?

  • January 23, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you very much for the helpful article!
    I already went no contact with my father because he was driving me completely crazy. I really couldn’t stand the situation anymore. The problem is I was unfortunately still struggling with my bad conscience.
    You’re right! It’s not me to put him in that position, but himself.

    • January 23, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      That damn false guilt! We all have it. I think it’s because we’re hard-wired to have good parents and love our good parents. So when they’re bad and we’re angry at them, the false guilt just happens because of the hard-wiring. Just live with it. Learn to ignore it. Stay busy. It weakens when you ignore it. Takes years — stick with it! 🙂

      • October 8, 2018 at 10:29 am

        It Was the daily dose of guilt given as children keeps us guilty years later….learning to let it go now.
        Finally I understand my childhood better…now it’s time for me!
        Thankyou for your piece, quite enlightening…

  • May 4, 2018 at 2:09 am

    Thank you for the power of your article, Lenora. My malignant narcissistic parents created a mighty fine toxic system. Finally, at age 58 I have come to terms with my truth that I have no “family.” I have given myself permission to let the idea of “family” go for good–parents and all three brothers. (I’m the only girl.) I came across your article at the right time, as I had just arrived at the decision that I could no longer support my cruel, eighty-five year old mother’s behavior, and after having released each brother one by one, over an extended period of time. It’s an incredibly lonely place to be, this place of familylesnesss. Reading others’stories is incredibly comforting.


  • May 28, 2018 at 11:31 am

    It was only last sunmer that I could name by father’s condition: Narcisstic personality disorder, my mother the enabler, his tool. “If you don’t do this or tell him that, I will be beaten up.” I am an only child. I finally left when I was 29. And I moved back because they could not find a tennant, build an extension next to their house and on it went with me and my husband and my children. Then my mother got ill, pretended she would not die, so as not to have to lay open her debts, part of which we already had paid (could not tell my father he did not earn enough). She died five and a half months after diagnosis. They were fighting until last, drawing us into the fights, she pressuring me, my husband and the kids. She became almost narcisstic too. She left me my narcisstic father to care for in the same house, a mountain of debt that we have to pay because our annex is involved and without their part of the house, ours is not worth its full value. Had 51 years of this and now some more and dragging my own family and my marriage into this….no changing the past, no changing the present, no change in the near future. I do wonder why I was born. I envy your no-contact.

  • May 29, 2018 at 9:45 am

    I finally had to go “no contact” with my profoundly disordered father when he was 88 years old. I could no longer take his cruelty and manipulation. I informed my sister and brother that I would no longer provide meals or anything else to our father and that it was their turn to take care of him. My siblings flipped between extreme anger toward me (how dare I require THEM to handle the old asshole!) and believing the lies my father told them about why I no longer responded in any way when he tried to hoover me back. Father lived another 3 years after that, and died in a most fitting way. During a brief hospitalization for a minor problem, he threatened the hospital nursing staff with getting a gun and shooting up the place because they would not do what he demanded. They immediately transferred him to the psychiatric unit where he could have no visitors, and apparently raged himself into a fatal heart attack 3 days later because he could not get his way. I have never shed a tear for him but I do miss my siblings.

    I, too, had to let go of my family. We’re getting older now but the burden is on them to understand why I chose no contact. I have explained it till I’m blue in the face. I doubt my brother will ever understand, or admit he understands.

    Lenora – I first learned about going no contact when I found your blog. Thank you for shining light on an insidious mental illness.

  • October 22, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you so much for this! The comments have also been so comforting. I’m 54 and I’m done with my aging parents. They have been the nastiest, most unsupportive parents. I’ve been blamed for everything that ever went wrong. I was the classic scapegoat. Once I had my son, he became the new scapegoat. My golden child sister had the golden child grandkids. My own parents set out to destroy my son. They set out to turn my own child against me. At 54, and my son is 25, we’ve stepped away. I cannot have anymore of the extreme hurt and chaos in my life. I have relieved myself of all guilt and this just cemented my decision. ❤️

    • March 4, 2019 at 12:31 am

      The Arrival of Today

      A Mother’s Lament
      By Cheryl Bottjer

      I woke with a dream-filled head and stumbled into my day with the hope of witnessing something special — something that will fill my lungs and mind with sustenance.

      I fill my empty watering can and walk to my garden to see if perhaps combining duty with happenstance will reveal an event, but nothing gives rise to the occasion.

      I pull the sand deposited by the snow plow away from a small plant. It is pathetic — just like me.

      The black flies flutter around my eyes and ears, momentarily paralyzing those senses, while seeking to be fortified at my expense — I am not hospitable.

      Today, like many other days, I hope to find the courage to step out of the dark, confining shadow of an orchestrated fate into the bright, immeasurable vastness of an unexamined future.

      I shall attempt to accomplish this by not rehearsing the usual dialogue that maybe I should have done something different, like others purport to do, as if to be exempt from circumstance.

      I am sorry, my son, that I was unable to champion above the machinations that charted for us, without empathy or remorse, the course of our destinies. It is my desire, through knowledge and understanding, to be reunited with you, but you are lost to me for now amidst our designated legacy of betrayal and grief!

      I know that it is unreasonable that I should expect for you, in your youth, to triumphantly defy the odds; to somehow validate my existence while struggling to define your own life — for it has taken me a lifetime to arrive at today!

      I think for today that I shall seek peace and solitude in the landscape for which I cherish, and fill the futility of my day with words spoken from my heart. For I love you and I miss you, my dear son!

  • October 25, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Leonora – Your honesty and precision take my breath away. Your clarity and directness are utterly profound. I am a video psychotherapist who specializes in helping adults who have been Scapegoated by narcissistic family members put the emotional pieces of their lives back together again. Often, as I know you are aware, survivors are dealing with a number of serious challenges, including Complex PTSD, chronic anxiety, complicated grief, relationship addiction/attachment trauma, identity confusion and low self worth. Folks in this situation need to be heard, believed, protected from further abuse and helped to recover. Sadly, there’s a serious shortage of therapists who understand, never mind know how to help people who have been so utterly victimized and betrayed. I am extremely grateful to have found your work, and would love to touch base with you as we are committed to same truth. If you get a chance, feel free to hop over to my site and have a look at the articles I have written on scapegoating, as I believe we share similar perspectives. All the best with your continued brilliant work.

  • November 23, 2018 at 3:28 am

    This article really helped to show me what both my former in-laws were. I do not have narcissistic parents but I discovered after marriage that there was something seriously wrong with my in-laws. They were narcissists and unfortunately passed on those Narc traits to my former wife, who enabled her parents and joined in their emotional, verbal and financial abuse directed at me. Even my stepdaughter joined in because her narcissistic grandma abused her emotionally and verbally and she also was a witness to her mother and grandmother abusing me. Her mother and father were both controlling people who couldn’t stand not being able to control another human being, and my former wife and her 2 brothers also became extremely controlling.
    These awful people saw me as an object – as a piece of property to serve their demands. My former wife would not buy a home with me because she wanted her mother’s home, and expected me to look after her mother and father (who lived in his own home as well). She also bought her brother a home and financially supported him for 8 of our 10 years of marriage. Our marriage came last to her; the needs/wants of her elderly, selfish father and mother came first. I was not to participate in my own sports or hobbies because that interfered with looking after her NFather or NMother. There were to be no date nights because that would offend NMother. Any weekends off were to be spent cleaning NMother’s filthy cottage or looking after NFather’s house. NFather’s house needed cleaning, he needed personal care, his driveways needed shoveling, his yard needed maintenance….the list was endless, and as he was too infirm and my former wife and her NMom didn’t want to put him in a nursing home (so his $ could be used to support a GC brother) they pushed a lot of this on me. I was expected to sacrifice my health and even career if necessary to look after him. When I was physically injured and unable to work for 2 months because of looking after him, they denied it and kept insisting that he come first. Her NMom demanded a portion of my salary and expected me to carry out all maintenance or repairs of her house, even ones I knew nothing about. Because she was too cheap to hire a professional.
    Going no contact was not an option as my former wife would not allow it and demanded I ‘put up with’ her family’s bad behavior. The only way to go no contact was to leave my marriage. This was a very painful decision to make but it was apparent to me by then that I would never come first to my former wife and that her birth family would always matter more.
    This article helped show that narcissistic people cannot change because they genuinely see nothing wrong with what they’re doing to others. My psychologist has told me that both my former wife and her parents have a total lack of empathy which is a major red flag of a narcissist. Now after almost a year of no contact I am living my life again.

  • December 14, 2018 at 7:08 am

    All I can say is thank you.
    The following is a single quote from 5 very long e-mails I received from my 74 year old mother in response to me telling her I knew she had gone to my children’s school and that she should not do that without talking to me first:
    “Since you were both born, I’ve had to walk on eggshells around you and your brother so I wouldn’t commit a faux pas you would find unforgivable”.

    I started searching the internet for help on how to care for my aging narcissistic mother.

    I don’t have to. I’m a dead kid. Dead kids cannot care for their parents.
    I’m a very much alive parent and need to remain so.

    • December 14, 2018 at 11:21 am

      Beautiful. I’m so glad my article was of help to you!

      ~ Lenora

  • January 19, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Thank you for the verification! After years of counseling I am now 58 have been low contact for over 10 years, I had forgotten how bad it can be. I met with parents and social worker as I cannot tell the lies from the truth mom is 80 . SW says to me walk away, do not look back, and do not feel guilty. And Im going to do it. I got married 5 months ago it has caused considerable jealousey from Mom she is trying to convert hubby who sees a pathetic older woman who appears helpless. Three days later he says wait let me get this straight she is wanting you to move in with them and care for them. Yep smh Im moving on.

  • January 26, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    I googled elderly and ill narcissistic mother and read your post again! I cared for mom from age 11 until age 50 when I realized how much I had given, how much I’d allowed her to control me. I also realized that no matter how or what I gave it would never be enough. She continues to try to suck me back in. I’d really like to go no contact because it makes me angry and upset. Then I start to question if she was really that bad. She call with guilt and love bombs and I’m reminded that she was and still is.

  • February 17, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for this article! I have struggled all my life with parents who put me last. Everything else came first…the dog, the shopping addiction, the alcoholism, the domestic violence, the petty squabbles, the screaming and on and on. I felt invisible my whole life as if the only reason I was born was to cater to the other egos who bore me. The first 18 years of my life, I was expected to be a caregiver to my narcissistic mother while my father ran away by working overtime as much as possible and using the inside of a bottle the remainder. It caused psychological damage I am trying desperately to repair now that I am in my latter 40’s. I have restricted contact but get guilt trips every time that I do. I have already stated quite plainly that if my father dies first, I will NOT be taking care of my mother. And I won’t. It is a long road back to some state of normalcy and it is one that I am grateful for. Their dysfunction taught me much over the years and in their own unintentional way, I learned what NOT to do from those two messed up people that never should have had a child (much less a dog). It is a consolation of sorts, I suppose.

  • July 14, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I hope my narcissistic mother has a similar happy ending to the one in the story. She deserves as much. Abandoned a teenage son, a husband, the family home. Played 6 siblings against one another for 70 some years. Never speaks an honest word. Lies, cheats, steals. Abused all of her children and her sisters. Takes everything for granted and uses people. Much more. After parenting her for the better part of 50 years, I’m 58, she discarded me hard when a penis gave her attention. She put on a show for the penis. The penis, oldest brother narc, can have her. I hope the narcs drive each other crazy. She has wanted his attention for as long as I can remember. I think he might be a surrogate husband for her.

  • July 14, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    By Cheryl Bottjer
    (Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse)
    (written from the perspective of her abuser)

    At Last

    My daughter is growing old now,
    at last!

    Her back is rounded now as she stands

    Her lips slant downward with no smile

    Her hair is gray and brittle and
    her skin is dry and limp

    Her breast are not a part of her
    because the left is scarred and hurts

    I told everyone that I wished to have her cancer because that notion seemed to serve

    She carries her sadness in her belly
    as if it were a beast

    Her eyes no longer sparkle and
    are vacant so to conceal

    The story I told against her
    its truth of which I shall never reveal

    To me she is tough
    having survived my ordeal

    She cries out in anguish
    hoping to be heard

    But no one is listening
    because you know she swears

    Her son never contacts her.
    For that event I have so craftily reserved

    I hope my daughter calls me though
    so I know the struggle is alive and still deserved

    I looked in the mirror today and who did I see?
    It was my daughter looking back at me!


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