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Holidays With A Narcissist Parent

I grew up with one – a narcissist mother who never was satisfied with anything and expected the impossible from everyone.  The holiday season that was supposed to be filled with family get-together’s and love instead turns into a competition over who bought the best gift or who had the nicest Christmas decorations.  The narcissist mother who pretended to love both of her children when her family was around for the holidays or paint herself as a victim to anyone who would listen.

I believe my mother loved the holidays, but for all of the wrong reasons.  She decorated her house from top to bottom and took great pride in how carefully she placed all of her Christmas knickknacks and how beautifully she adorned her tree year after year.  It was the only time of the year she opened our home to other people; neighbors and my stepfather’s co-workers would walk around our home and “ooh” and “aah” at my mother’s Christmas decorations and tell her what a great job she did as they munched on her homemade gingerbread cookies and sipped on her special hot cocoa.

Mom loved giving gifts, but not because she enjoyed watching the happiness on the people’s faces she loved.  What Mom loved was the credit she would almost demand once a gift was opened.

“If you only knew the effort I went to in order to get you that!”

“No one would have waited in line as long as I did for that.”

“What’s wrong with your face?  Why don’t you like what I got you?  Don’t you appreciate it?”

“I did good didn’t I?  I went above and beyond what you expected!”

Gift opening on Christmas morning became a show for everyone who was around Mom and fake smiles were aplenty as we opened up the gifts Mom got for us.  If we didn’t do cartwheels and squeal at the top of our lungs each time a gift was opened, Mom would pout.  She would sit back on the couch, cross her arms, and stick out her lower lip like a five year old until we praised her for her “unique” gift giving skills.

But no one could ever get Mom anything she ever wanted; ever.  No matter how much time anyone spent on trying to find a gift that would make Mom happy, nothing was ever good enough.  It was either the wrong color, the wrong size, or the wrong brand and she made it very clear that we didn’t try hard enough to find something special for her.

“Oh.  That’s what you got me?  Hope you kept the receipt.”

“What makes you think I would like that?”

“Why in the world would you waste your money on something like that?

“I go to all of that effort for you and this is what you give me?”

Seeing family on Christmas Day was a nightmare in itself with my narcissist mother.  She acted envious of everyone being together, she scowled during family photos, and would always cause some scene either before or after dinner so that the entire room would stop and pay attention to what was going on with her.  Mom would manufacture some sort of drama every single holiday with the family and I remember too many Christmas’s where Mom grabbed my sister and I up and stormed out of her sister’s house in a rage.

It’s draining to deal with someone like this day after day, but even more draining to deal with them on a day that is supposed to be about giving, love, and family.  As a child, I and many others had no choice but to grin and bear it and play the games the narcissist wanted us to play in order to keep the peace.  All we wanted was to open our presents and play with our toys like normal children, but we ended up catering to the childish needs of our narcissistic parents all day.

As an adult, we can choose to not spend our special holiday season with our narcissist parent.  We can choose to remove ourselves from the drama that our parents create and make our own happy memories with our family and friends.  As adults, we can choose to let our narcissist parent to sit and dwell on their own drama rather than allowing them to bring their drama to our front doorstep and ruin our holidays.  Go out, be with your family and friends, celebrate to your hearts content and don’t allow the narcissist’s self-pity and need for attention ruin one of the best times of the year.

Holidays With A Narcissist Parent

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). Holidays With A Narcissist Parent. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Nov 2017
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