Today I read something chilling. I was on Twitter when I came across a link to an article on narcissistic parenting that looked like it would be interesting. I clicked on it, read it, and sat back unable to do more than let what I had read sink in for a while. For a long time I've known that something was wrong with the people in my family, now I have some more names for us. I don't want to be a narcissistic parent anymore. I want to do something to erase the past, at forty I can't really blame my parents anymore so it's up to me to figure out how to be a better parent. Part of the problem with being a kid and turning into an adult is sometimes you don't recognize problems as problems. Back in February my mom came over to help us pack. We thought we were going to move and then changed our minds. I still don't know if that was a good idea or not. I think not, but whatever. At the time my mom packed up the books that we had in our living room. I wasn't there when she arrived and she made herself useful by attacking the bookcase.
While she was there she told me that it was more important for her to feel good about what she was doing than it was for me to get the things I wanted done. I'm reading that sentence and thinking about some of the things that article described. A lot of narcissistic parents raise narcissistic kids and the cycle goes on until it gets interrupted. The article spoke about letting kids make choices of their own rather than insisting on things that you as a parent choose for them. It's important for children to have an identity of their own and unfortunately, a lot of children who are raised with these people have no idea that they're being manipulated, or if they do, they feel powerless to stop it. My parents weren't big into clothes which is fine. We didn't have a lot of money growing up so that was part of it, but my parents told me what I could wear and what I couldn't and when which they viewed as their parental right.
I see myself doing the same thing in a different way to my children. I'll bring home clothes for them when I'm out shopping. I tell them I'll take it back if they don't like it, but I could make more of an effort to make them feel included in their clothing choices. Sometimes I say no for reasons I don't get into at the time. I hate being that parent. I hate the fact that my children are growing up in a very cold and tense home the way that I did. I don't spend a lot of time with my kids. When we are together I have a tendency to be critcal of the things they're doing whether it's the dishes or the state of their room. I'm really disappointed in my children, but a lot of that stems from the way that they've been raised. My oldest daughter is in a class with a lot of very bright kids. She's not doing well and I don't really care about the grades, but I can see the factors that add up to her bringing home a report card that doesn't reflect her level of talent.
My youngest tends to be a homebody. She holes up in her room with her iPad and goes on Instagram. I read about children of narcissistic parents feeling invisible. We were at her soccer game standing on the sidelines on a bitter cold day. The wind whipped around us and I went to the car to get a blanket, but I couldn't get warm no matter what I did. A woman near us asked if I was okay and before I could say anything my mom put her arm around me and told the woman in no uncertain terms that I was just fine because I had made up my mind to be. After that I went to sit in my mom's van, peeling back my gloves to see my fingers that lacked circulation. Whether I was cold, tired, or hungry, or wanted new clothes at the mall when I had my own money to buy it with, my parents stepped in and intervened, controlling almost every aspect of my life. They did not spare the rod nor spoil their children and now they have five kids who are more or less repeating the mistakes that they made with their children, or at least those of us who have children are doing this to our kids.
I have an appointment with my therapist on the thirtieth. I haven't been in to see her in a while and I'm kind of afraid of what she's going to say when I tell her some of the things I've been thinking about lately. I don't know why, but I've been having a lot of trouble with food allergies again. Maybe it's just stress, I don't know anymore. I'm confused, bewildered, exhausted, depressed, cold, tired, hungry, and upset. I'm sure we'll get through somehow. I don't know how, we'll probably just stumble along the way we always do. After reading the article which says children should grieve and let the emotions wash through them I cried for a while. Then I took a bath, and went in to talk to my youngest who took a nap after school. I worry about her, I'm concerned about both of my girls, but I can't change the way that things are overnight. I snuggled with her for a while before she showed me her science test and went through a song that she and her friend are singing for the Fine Arts Fair.
I guess knowing this is powerful because now that I know what the problem is, I can learn more about solutions. It isn't all about me. My children deserve more interactive parents who love them for their inner beauty and just because that's what parents should do regardless of how children behave. I don't want my children to feel invisible. Things have improved more recently, but we have a lot of ground to cover in this area. The time spent just hanging out with my daughter reminded me that I can do small things for them and with them. Over time small things can lead to big change so right now even though I feel terrible about having yelled at them last night, I realize that I am human and will continue to make parenting mistakes. But I can also apologize and we can all move on again.