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Raising Your Own Children Differently as the Child of a Narcissist

When you are raised by narcissists, you may be nervous about raising your own children. You don't want to be the same as your own parents, or to raise your children with the same scars. However, you may not know where to turn for parenting resources. You can't ask your parents for advice, so sometimes you feel stuck.

It's perfectly normal to feel this way as the adult child of a narcissist. You weren't raised in a way that you want to replicate. In order to do better with your own children, you need to find a template for healthy parenting. You can look to friends' parents, online forums, parenting books, or parenting classes.

Attachment Parenting

When I became a mom, I wanted to make sure that I was forming a close and loving bond with my children. I made sure to explain reasons when I told them no, give them plenty of snuggles, respond to their needs, and make myself emotionally available to them. This is what led me to Attachment Parenting.

Attachment Parenting is a parenting style that emphasizes the loving bond between the parent and the child. It is a way to foster secure attachment in your child, and ensure that they will feel safe with you.

According to Healthline,

Attachment parenting is a modern parenting philosophy based on the attachment theory, which was coined by the work of two child psychologists. This research-supported theory is based on the concept that a parent’s connection and responsiveness to their baby’s needs have an everlasting effect on their baby’s future emotional health and relationships.

Babies and young children are extremely vulnerable, and completely reliant on their adult caregivers to meet their needs. When a baby cries, they are voicing their needs. By being responsive to your baby's cries, you can ensure that you are setting them up to have a trusting relationship with you later in life.

As children of narcissists, this is something we probably didn't experience growing up. I remember my mom telling my partner to "just put her down and let her cry - you need to do things" when he explained the attachment parenting approach to her.

Our youngest would only nap if someone was holding her, and this isn't something a narcissist can grasp. Especially if you have a sensitive child, you may have to go out of your way to practice attachment parenting. However, this will help you form a strong bond with your child as they are growing.

Take time for self care

If you are a mom who is suffering PTSD from your own childhood, it is important to practice self care. Taking care of your own needs isn't selfish. It allows you to be at your best, so that you can give your best to your children as well. If you are struggling with your mental health, it may be disruptive to your parenting, too.

The National Institute of Mental Health provides the following tips for mental health self care:

  • Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.

  • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.

  • Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.

  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.

  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.

  • Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.

  • Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.

  • Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

When you are a mom with a mental illness, being mindful of your own needs can be a big help to you, your family and your children. If you have PTSD from coping with your own narcissistic parents, making sure that you are seeing a trauma informed therapist is a key first step. Making time for your own healing and inner peace can go a long way towards making you a better mom!

Parenting Resources

If you are looking for additional parenting resources, it can be great to participate in online communities with other moms. These can easily be found on social networking sites like FaceBook. There are lots of ages and stages parenting groups that you can tap into to get tips from other moms with kids the same age as yours.

Similarly, when you make friends with other moms at your child's school or daycare, it is extremely helpful too. This way, you can schedule play dates together, share advice and experiences, and help with each other's kids.

The Resources tab on my website has links to resources for both parenting and PTSD. You can always check out these links for additional support.

If you are looking for a parenting class in your local area, the Child Mind Institute has some helpful tips for finding a class near you that is the right fit.

There are also lots of great parenting books out there on Attachment and Gentle parenting, which can help you to parent quite differently than your own parents. Check out these book lists from the Attachment Parenting Institute and Mom Makes Joy.

Additionally, if there are any other topics you would like me to cover here on the blog, please feel free to let me know in the comments!


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