It became clearer and clearer to me with each blog post that I write, and with each meme or story that I read. My XMIL (mother in law) is a Narcissist, too. Narcissists of a feather, huh?
So why didn't I already know this? I needed to learn more. So I began digging through articles. I learned that Narcissists can, and in fact, do raise their children to be that way as well, whether intentionally or not.
While I was with my NX, I didn't make the immediate connection because I was still in the situation. It took getting discarded, plenty of therapy and eyes wide open to see what was in front of me all along. I always thought she was just a nasty woman. But looking back, all the characteristics are there.
I would consider my XMIL to be a somatic narcissist. She dwells on the importance of appearance. Though she is not a supermodel (quite the opposite actually), she does take extra care in picking out clothes to wear and maintaining her every-other-week manicures. She must keep up appearances, after all.
In my post Narcissists And The Holidays, I mentioned how my XMIL took over planning the entire baby shower when I was pregnant with my daughter. My then best friend was supposed to be the "host."
Anyway, from what my NX was exposed to as a child, he learned no other way to behave. That it was okay to view himself as superior to others. It seemed odd to me really, because going by the family dynamic that he grew up in, he was considered to be the black sheep of the family. Always got into trouble, always fought with his parents. My ex did not fit the typical model of a Narc raised by a Narc mother. But then again, nothing is typical when it comes to Narcissism.
On the surface, you would think that Narc parents would create a Narc child based on them treating their child like he or she is entitled and privileged.
On the contrary.
According to an article by David Ludden PhD published on Psychology Today, a study done by Dutch psychologists Eddie Brummelman, Sander Thomaes, and Constantine Sedikides suggest that it is when parents give too little warmth to the child that the child will develop narcissistic tendencies.
The researchers conducted a long-term study in which they measured children’s personality and observed the ways their parents interacted with them. They found that children who developed high self-esteem also had parents who expressed fondness and affection for them—but did not overly praise them. However, children who developed narcissistic tendencies had parents who showered them with praise and constantly compared them to other children who had accomplished less than they did. In a nutshell, parental warmth led to self-esteem, whereas parental overvaluation led to narcissism.
It is that study that suggests there is a big difference between telling a child "Great job" versus "You're the best." The former is indicative of helping the child to establish a healthy self-esteem, while the latter is indicative of superiority and narcissism.
That still seemed odd to me. My XMIL didn't give him warmth (maybe when he was young, she did), nor did she treat him like he was superior. In fact, based on how I saw her treat him, he was treated like the family failure.
It is for that reason that I feel he learned most of it by watching his mother. Children are astute observers and we adults don't give them enough credit. So it is because he learned to treat others as lowly and beneath him, that he felt entitled to special treatment and that he needed to embellish his accomplishments in order to appear more important, that he became a Narcissist just like his mother.
Do you have an experience with Narcissists in the same family? Comment below. And as always, I appreciate you for sharing your stories with me.
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Greetings, my warrior survivor friends! Welcome to my blog. I'm Julianna, the owner and creator of this site. Check out the My Story section to read about why I started this blog. Thanks for stopping in. And feel free to comment on any post, share your own thoughts and stories. I would love to hear from you!
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