How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? Has this question been bothering you lately? Is it because you discovered you are living with a narcissist? If so, then let me tell you, you are not dealing with a person you are dealing with a type of mental disorder, which is hard to curtail.
Narcissism is a type of personality disorder. In this disorder, the person feels superior to himself or herself. A narcissist is possessed with inflated self-importance and patronization. They crave appreciation, admiration, and importance for their physical and mental attributes.
Usually, we think a mother in law is being unfair to a daughter in law when we find such qualities in her but when you know the signs and when you see her interacting with others in the same fashion, then you need to understand that this is a side of her personality. Maybe other family members along with you are finding it hard to adjust to her overpowering nature.
How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law and save your sanity
In addition to a wife’s relationship with a husband, the relationship between a daughter in law and a mother in law is very important for a prosperous household. Some are blessed, and they hit the jackpot while others don’t. But you can always make ways to understand your mother in law and try to find ways to deal with the root cause of the problem. This will help you understand her and hence you can bridge all gaps in the relationship.
Do you know that there exist nine types of mother in laws in India? From compassionate to greedy, from fearful to needy, we have seen all but the mother of all the mother in laws is the narcissistic mother in law. And before I tell you how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law, let me tell you that your mother in law will never agree that she is a narcissist.
How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? A person with such traits is a great manipulator and they love their image. They will stay good in front of others, pretend to be very compassionate but they are not how they appear to be. Dealing with such personalities is itself a very challenging job; Hence, we can start by identifying if we are dealing with a narcissist with the help of the below-mentioned points.
Five signs your mother in law is a narcissist
One cannot expect empathy or consideration from a person with such behavioral issues. If you have to live with someone like this and especially if that someone is your arrogant mother in law, then your question, how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law is very much valid and thought-provoking. To deal with a narcissistic mother in law, you need to recognize her first.
We cannot choose mother in laws or any relationship, but we can only try to make things work with what we have got in this life. Relationships are a great contributor to any individual’s life, as the right relationship can help you bloom and a bitter relation with someone in your life could completely destroy your mental peace. You know your mother in law is a narcissist when:
|1. She needs constant admiration|
|2. She frequently demeans others|
|3. She is very defensive about herself|
|4. She is full of herself|
|5. She can never empathize|
1. She needs constant admiration
A narcissist mother in law is always hungry for admiration. She believes she is the sole owner of the house and everything belongs to her. People should appreciate her for everything she does. It is not only sad for a daughter in law to get to live with a mother in law who is self-possessed and hellbent on ruining things. But the other family members also might suffer because of her outrageous behavior.
I remember an old incident; I was newly married and my mother in law was cooking some authentic south-Indian food. There were many items out of which I could not eat one item; I politely refused with a smile. It somehow hit her ego, and she threw the serving spoon and said, you think you are a better cook or what? No one ever refused to eat what I prepare, how come you have a problem? I was stunned as from my point of view I just refused to eat something I can’t, and even at my house before marriage, there were a lot of food items which I didn’t like to eat, even if my mom forced me to, I used to get annoyed and she always laughed teasing me. But how situations change when you cannot even politely refuse to eat something you don’t like, how does it define her cooking skill? When it is just a matter of choice.
We all have our own tastes and preferences, but living with a narcissist leaves us with no choice but to appreciate them in whatever they do. After this incident, I was labeled that I don’t like her cooking and I could not help but gulp everything she ever made. She made it because I am not allowed to cook. The kitchen is strictly her area, and I might be a trespasser who could prohibit it. I identified this sign and drew a distance.
2. She frequently demeans others
It is all about power for a narcissist person. They enjoy dominating people, manipulate them, and even fake smiles to show they are pure and happy souls. If you are an emotionally volatile daughter in law then the situation would be worse for you as the probability is your mother in law will not only demean you but your parents and your children too. Taking over is their nature; they create situations wherein you look like a culprit and then they take advantage of the situation.
She could be sarcastic and belittle you in front of others. Looking at these warning signs, you might ponder even more than how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law. In my post, why do Mother in Laws cause Problems in Family and Relationships? I have specifically tried to outline many reasons a mother in law cause problems and how her ignorant behavior could lead to ruin the peace and harmony of the house.
3. She is very defensive about herself
Due to her overpowering nature, she can never take criticism. Even when a family member will try to take a stand for you and if at all that person is your husband and her son, you make her your biggest enemy. A narcissistic mother usually raise either a very sensitive or a narcissistic child, you are in double danger if your husband is like her as well but if you find him empathizing with you, then believe him; he understands because the probability is that he has been a victim of his mother’s personality disorder more than you.
How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? As to defend herself, she might go to any extent because her image is very important for her. In order to prove her right, she will put blame on others and manipulate things.
4. She is full of herself
Yes, they are. Everything is about her. Her life, her achievements, her story, her parenting. The one listening to her gets completely lost in the middle of the conversation because such type of person leaves no room for others to enter and be a part of the conversation. they just want to be heard and appreciated for their stories.
Whenever I tried to strike a conversation with my mother in law, as an attempt to let her get to know me as a person, I realized she was never interested. If I would say I loved to dance, she would say she was a stage performer. These in-active listening skills are conversation killers and you completely shut down yourself and let things go out of your way because you realize you cannot win a space for yourself in her life.
5. She can never empathize
The worst thing about a person with the traits of a narcissist is that they can never empathize, they can never understand the amount of hurt and disgust their behavior could cause to others living around them. They cannot love unconditionally for them everything is an exchange. If they love their children, they want their success and achievements as their trophies of parenting.
As a mother too, a narcissistic mother lacks empathy for the feelings of her children and does not consider their basic needs. If you find yourself stuck with a mother in law who can never understand your pain, then understand she will never ever listen to your side of the story. She will criticize you behind closed doors and in public, she will show you her prized possessions.
Tips to deal with a narcissistic mother in law
Now, with the help of the above warning signs, I am sure you can identify if you landed up with a narcissist mother in law and now I will share five quick tips to deal with one. How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? You need to deal with her staying mindful and show her you can live with it, and this is how:
|1. Become less accessible|
|2. Don’t blame yourself|
|3. Give up on changing her|
|4. Stay assertive in your approach|
|5. Don’t let her negativity enter you|
1. Become less accessible
How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? By being less available for her. Start by drawing healthy boundaries and becoming less accessible to her. The more you will confront her, the more it will destroy your mental peace, remember sign number three you cannot win over a narcissist.
2. Don’t blame yourself
The most natural phenomenon is that when a person fails to manage something he or she doubts himself. No, you cannot be responsible for everything. Especially when you are dealing with an arrogant mother in law who is least interested in your feelings. You need to choose yourself over someone who cannot see things beyond her.
3. Give up on changing her
I insist that you leave all the hopes of changing her; you cannot change her. Understand if a person is a narcissist then it is a part of his personality that can hardly be altered. The more we will urge on changing that person, the more he will become defensive and things will go haywire. Stop making efforts to change them rather start taking efforts to maintain distance and stay positive to create a balance.
4. Stay assertive in your approach
Stay positive and stay assertive. It will help you fight the daily problems caused by your mother in law. The best part is that in such cases most of the time husband and the other family members also know of the mother in law’s nature so you do not have to prove anything to anyone. Involve your husband so he is aware of the frequent crashes. Just be yourself and be kind to others.
5. Don’t let her negativity enter you
It is a quite natural thing to happen when you are surrounded by so much criticism, bullying, and demeaning you loathe. You cry and you curse your situation, but just imagine what it could lead to? Your mental health. Dealing with someone so hard is already a pain in life and now when you decide to let her negativity enter in you, you pass that negativity to your husband and your children, think about it and regain balance.
Steps towards Mental Wellness
Dealing with someone who continuously criticizes you, belittles you, and demeans you is the most difficult part of anyone’s life and it gets worse when you have to stay with them. Situations like such will only create a stressful environment and make things worse at a cellular level. Understand that you need to take care because things like these take a toll on our sanity and we go into a no-hope zone.
- Take time for yourself
- Indulge in a little self-care
- Pursue a hobby
- Let go
A very important part of human life is that it has to go on despite what may come. You are allowed to cry; you are allowed to complain, but giving up should never be an option for you. You need to continuously work on yourself while dealing with external factors. Dealing with a toxic mother in law is worst but you can always take positive steps towards a healthy you from the inside which will lessen the effect of the outside factors. Take charge of your life. Let no domination and overpowering behavior of others rule your life.
Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.