21 thoughts on “5 Manipulation Tactics Narcissistic Parents Use To Control Their Adult Children

  • April 20, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Dang you grew up in my house and lived my life.
    It still blows my mind how these types are so alike in the abuse of their children.

  • April 23, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Don’t forget the “you’re so ungrateful” guilt trip and silent treatment designed to punish and make you think you’re invisible and beneath them. Those were my mothers favourite. For my father, who I always thought was the primary Narcissistic person in my family, but only recently started to wonder whether it was actually my mother all along who had brainwashed me against my father…he like to gaslight a lot and found it very amusing to play sick pranks on me, exploiting my youthful gullibility…then call me a fool or stupid later! Made himself feel very clever at my expense. He never felt good unless he was putting me down or making me feel like crap, and the constant comparisons to my brother, the golden child, were just so nasty. I’m so grateful I worked out their games early on and learned ways to protect myself before I finally removed myself from their bullshit mind games alltogether. They can make me look like the bad guy to all their friends, but eventually some of them will start to understand that I left for a reason…and didn’t come back. That says a lot.

  • April 23, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    This describes the overt narcissist. Worse is the covert one, whose subtleties of abuse are hard to pin down but just as, if not worse, painful.

  • April 24, 2019 at 9:09 am

    As the intelligent, well-educated & college- educated adult who is single with a free will in the independent life, I always have a right to say ” No” to my toxic mother and my toxic brother who now is a family physician with his M.D. degree by protecting myself and my life. Then I make none of any contacts with them, I refuse to invite them to visit me at home as they’re totally banned in lifetime as I don’t want to see them again. So that I choose to be separated from them as that’s up to me in making decisions to decide so here. My adult life is off- boundary. Now I have my close & supportive friends and others in the local area in my own way.

  • April 24, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Please note everyone with a sibling abuse history, narcissistic parent abuse is same as having a sibling narcissistic abuse. Sometimes even worse because you spend more time with your, in my case older sister, then with your working parents!

    Also be aware of COVERT narcissist ( my mother ) – always in a poor victim mode and OVERT narcissist.

  • April 24, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Describes my mother to a T. I couldn’t figure out what happened to me in my former years that left me feeling flawed and unworthy. I related it to my abusive, alcoholic dad and decades went by before I began to understand that my mother was a full blown sneaky narcissist. None of my achievements were praised or celebrated rather, mother always knew someone who was smarter or who did it better. No matter what, she would put me down in every way possible. She mocked me a lot and would blame and shame most of the time then, she would deny it. Who me? she would say, acting the innocent. Ah, and the silent treatment… I remember that so well. If I said no to her in an attempt to assert myself, and set boundaries, then she would threaten me and not talk, sometimes for a month. Then she’d gossip to her friends about her horrible daughter. She was terrible for riding rough shod over me and as far as she was concerned, I had no right to complain. My sister is just like mother but, thank god that I left home at a young age and stayed away from the toxicity of home. The message I was given was that I wasn’t good enough and that I was a disappointment. Tough on her!

    • May 5, 2019 at 3:58 am

      I can relate to everything you said.
      It’s so hard to comprehend how a mother can treat her own child this way. I have two children and would never treat them like I’ve been treated. Full blown abuse. I went no contact for good. I’m the scapegoat and thankfully I had the courage to walk away.
      God Bless!

  • April 26, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Really informative – will share with my students

  • May 5, 2019 at 3:54 am

    Thank you for sharing this insightful article as well as many others. It’s spot on!
    The more we learn about this sick behavior the better we are because we learn to walk away from the abuse. Stop listening to the lies and set ourselves free from the prison. We’re better off going no contact because we need to protect ourselves and practice boundaries. Find people who love us unconditionally, support and encourage us.
    Unfortunately we learn that our family of origin are all fakes. I trust few people now.

  • May 7, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    All of those tactics could be also applied to adult children. My husband’s son, my adult step son and his wife decided that since I was retired that all I should want to do is babysit their children. Although I babyat sometimes, I was not about to be the go to person to babysit. When I refused, they got angry and stop bringing the grandkids around.

    • August 4, 2019 at 4:16 am

      Sorry to hear that they used their children to retaliate. These people are chronic users. I am glad that you asserted yourself and established a boundary. I know someone who is being asked to babysit multiple children day and night because she is “family”. She doesn’t have time to think or even breathe.
      If they were healthy they would negotiate a workable babysitting arrangement or simply let the children enjoy your company when you are available.

  • October 16, 2019 at 3:14 am

    This is scary! My parents have all those triats and are physically abusive. They still nowadays compare to other people and I am always worthless and crap even tho I have achieved a lot for myself and struggled through it all. They expect me to endure their horrible words and tactics but I just can’t I hung up. I’m so angry and upset because they will never change. I want to give all my love but I can’t because they take it for granted 😡. I was ill for a few days and didn’t even ask me of I was okay nor get well soon (I know its a small thing) but they don’t care at all and I have gone distant from them a lot and I am very happy without them but then I get sad because when I watch movies and TV shows and see other parents with their child I get a bit sad and wish they where my parents

  • October 20, 2019 at 11:16 am

    this resonates with my mum who is narcisstic fully. last 30 yrs full of mental abuse. but what is the solution when her daughter got ill and needs a help from her? i am in this situation and though i try to limit the contact i need to ask her to help out sometimes physically…

  • October 21, 2019 at 6:41 pm


    It’s not my place to give advice but what I’m going to say is based on 70 years of first hand experience and growing up with a narcissistic mother and having learned the lessons that I needed to learn and that is…. Letting Go!

    Narcissistic parents don’t change. So don’t live in hope that they will change into the loving parents you want. It’s not going to happen. Let it go!

    No matter how good or how kind you are to them, it will never be enough. Don’t twist yourself into a pretzel or bend over backwards to please them. They will never be happy because they are not happy individuals inside of themselves. They have something missing at the very core of
    them. Let it go!

    It’s up to you to decide if you want contact with them or not. You say you’re happy away from them. This speaks volumes! Be kind to yourself and create a healthy distance. Let them go!

    They are abusing you…..

    You DESERVE better than this.

    You are a worthwhile and good person… hold on to that thought!

    Don”t take onboard the put downs, insults, accusations, shaming, guilt tripping etc. When they say horrible things to you, remember this… It’s not about you! It’s about them and their lack. Let their crap go!

    I wish you all the very best in life and good luck too. X

    • November 8, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Set boundaries, go no contact. My malignant father cheated on my mother and after she passed away he hooked up with his nephew’s/my cousin’s wife. Family rallied around my cousin when he went to divorce court and my father could not believe we supported “the enemy” in court with evidence of their affair. Narcs have no shame and their own children a disposable. Good riddance to toxic family members!

  • November 13, 2019 at 4:56 am

    My nm used/uses her Will to control. I will cut you out of my Will if you do not do as I want. I walked away 21 months ago. She can or may have cut me out of my inheritance. I don’t care. I’d rather have peace than be manipulated and triangulated by such a sick person.

  • November 23, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I am so grateful to have found this site. For a moment, I began to question my status as a mother. I have a 31 year old daughter from a previous marriage. I’m shaking my head as I write this. I still can’t believe I’m here.

    In as much of a nutshell as possible, I was active duty in the Navy when her father and I divorced. Because I was on sea duty, physical custody was given to him. I was deploying. It wasn’t long before she realized she can play one parent against the other. He would give her anything in the beginning so she would want to stay with him.

    I recall my visitation, driving two hours from San Diego to an empty house. I’d wait for hours. Call, only to get his voicemail. He’d finally show up with her late in the evening. After a two hour drive back, you could say my first day of visitation was shot. This keep away game went on for years until finally I requested the court mandate a neutral pick up and drop off point. They did. It was the Sheriff station, blocks from the house.

    There was finally a third party that could document if she was not there when I was to pick her up. To document when I dropped her off and he wasn’t there. One of his favorite things to do was hand me wait until he finished a swing shift at 11:30 pm. Sitting in my car or Denny’s with our daughter for hours. I still had to commute two hours back to San Diego.

    Due to the intervention of the Sheriff Dept, things got old. The immediate thrill of abusing my time was no longer. He began placing boundaries on this child who was spoiled and out of control. She would call, crying, begging to live with me. Please mommy, please. Three times, in total, I would have the attorney file papers requesting a change of physical custody. Each time she would appear in court and say, I want to stay with my dad. Each time stung more than the last.

    I met someone, remarried and had two amazing sons. They filled that painful void in my soul with a joy o haven’t felt in years. Fast forward to today. December 2018, she was arrested for a DUI. Her bond was $220,000. I thought she hit and injured someone.

    No! Turns out it was her second DUI at 30 years of age. Unpaid traffic tickets up and down Los Angeles county. She spent two weeks in jail, being transferred from one to the next. After a year of fines, community service, I had the bright idea thinking a change of venue would help her get her act together. She was living with her father all her adult life.

    She enrolled in college part-time. Found a part-time job. Things appeared great. Not three weeks after moving in, she began coming home between 2-3 am pissy drunk. Lying, giving the silent treatment to her two brothers and myself. I didn’t notice at first but she began a passive aggressive behavior of gaslighting.

    It was little things. Knocking over my toothbrush in its holder, knocking over personal things on my dresser, putting her soaking wet wash cloth on top my dry towel after her shower. I’d call her on every event. The tension was building. I began to see she was doing these things deliberately to push my buttons. It continued over a month. During the summer in Las Vegas, I have the thermostat set to cool at 73•, to return home after a 12 hour night shift to find the patio doors wide open. The unit running all night.

    I was so on edge. Dreading the moment I’d hear her key in the lock. I was at my wits end. The harmony in the house was now tension. This past Tuesday I returned from work to find she placed a dirty pair of her panties on top of my scrubs I keep in the bathroom to wear again.

    I can’t remember if I was still breathing. I stood unable to move for a moment. I put the panties in the trash, washed my scrubs and decided that was it. She returned early that evening looking for the confrontation that became the norm. She was met with silence. She went to the bathroom to find the basket empty. She thought, she must have seen my panties? She casually walked around my presence as if to look for something provoking the opportunity for me to attack. No, not tonight.

    I was unable to sleep I was so angry and disgusted. The next morning I went to the Constables office at the court house. I paid and filed for a 5 day eviction notice. It was served the next day. She saw the notice when she came in after 2am. She said nothing. I had every light on on this house and was wide awake, I was ready for whatever scene she wanted to cause. She did nothing.

    The next morning she called friends and others to cry in despair that I served her a eviction notice. I began receiving phone calls and pleas to try and work with her. My foot! She is out. If she violates the 5 days, I won’t hesitate to pay for them to physically remove her. Thanks to articles like this one, I know I deserve better. We all deserve better. At the very least I deserve her respect, I am her mother! I wish her well but she will never be welcomed in my home again.


  • December 28, 2019 at 9:44 am

    My husband’s mother is a borderline narcissist. This article – items 3 and 4 especially – describes her recent behavior to a T. We had her stay with us over for Xmas as usual this year, since his sister’s husband won’t let her go to their house. She’s 92 now and her filters have come off. She refuses to recognize my husband as an adult. This manifests in ignoring his success in life because he chose a non-traditional occupation, denying that his brother is a gaslighting jerk, and worse.
    Lately my husband revealed to her that as a teenager a sheriff’s deputy abused him, shoving a gun in his mouth (they lived in a bad neighborhood with only deputies). She called him a liar. My husband was so enraged he wouldn’t see her for several months.
    Anyway this Xmas we took her to an expensive restaurant for Xmas dinner because I thought it would be a nice diversion from sitting listening to her talk about herself for 10 hours. When the bill came she said it was too high and we were irresponsible, since we are so ‘unsuccessful’ and made several rude comments. Our daughter had to listen to this offensive scene. I decided to fight back and pointed out that golden child sister’s husband just gave golden grandson and his wife a trip to Fiji for Xmas the day before. “Mom” retaliated that ‘”they can afford it because golden son-in-law has so much money.” In point of fact our house alone is worth twice what golden child sister’s home is worth.
    At this point I have resigned myself that we could be fabulously wealthy, own a huge estate, and be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and still not be good enough for her.

  • March 19, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    My brother married a narcissist. I only realized what she is now after she damaged a lot of lives. They have two children who are adults now and have several difficulties with living normal lives. I wondered when they were little why their mother never hugged or showed any love to those beautiful babies. Never knew why until she physically and emotionally destroyed my widowed mother. And destroyed my relationship with my only sibling my brother with lies and blackmail. We haven’t talked for 15 years. Someday we will be together again I’m hoping.

  • March 25, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Wow. I am so grateful that I found this article and the comments section. It’s brought me down from a near panic attack I just experienced from texting my dad.

    He’s a totally unhappy, power-hungry, alcoholic narcissist. His alcohol abuse is why I left him 5 years ago. I’ve never been able to explain to him *why* I left simply because I’m terrified of him (and he claims to not remember doing any wrong doing). I have panic attacks every time I get a call or text from him.

    He also pays for my taxes and medication so I’m not completely free from him until I can fully support myself. He uses this hold over me and blackmailing to get me to communicate with him. I didn’t realize until now that I have the right to simply say “no” to phone calls. My problem is always how he’ll react after I’ve stood up for myself. I lose sleep and my appetite whenever I interact with him.

    But this article just saved me from anxiety-triggered nausea so thank you. I feel less alone.

    • March 25, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Set boundaries, go no contact. It’s easier than you realize! That’s how they keep control, by forcing dependence. Over a year since I’ve finally gone 100% no contact after years toxicity towards my spouse and family, I plan on never seeing him again and he’s 72! Checkout Reddit /raisedbynarcissists for support and guidance too.


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