How To Spot A Narcissist In The Family And 8 Ways To Deal With Them

Sarmistha Neogy
·8-min read

Oprah Winfrey’s headline-making interview with American-born Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Prince Harry, was nothing less than explosive. From sharing how oppressed they were at their palace, to Markle talking about her suicidal thoughts, to speaking out about their son not being given a royal title. The interview had everything from their perspective.

Which is why, it left the supporters and critics divided. On the one hand, Markle received an overwhelming support for outing the ‘oppression,’ on the other critics pegged Markle as a narcissist. Her own sister reportedly went on air to call her a “narcissist who is not capable of empathy or remorse or shame.”

While it may not be correct to label somebody suffering from a mental disorder a narcissist, experts suggest that the interview did reveal a lot about such personalities. And it is a trait to watch out!

Licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC called a narcissism a selfishness at the (usually extreme) expense of others, plus the inability to consider others’ feelings at all.

Either way, narcissists can be everywhere, in families, at work, and apparently even in palaces! They are not hard to spot and it can he rather exhausting to keep up with them. But before you learn how to deal with a narcissist family member, let’s find find out how you can spot one in your own home.

Typical Traits Of A Narcissist

how to deal with a narcissist family member
how to deal with a narcissist family member

Image courtesy: iStock

When someone uploads too many selfies on their social media profile or only talks about themselves, our first reaction is “Oh what a narcissist!” But let’s not take leniency is labelling everybody that. A true narcissist is somebody with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

It is a mental health condition characterised by lack of empathy for others, a deep need for excessive attention, an inflated sense of importance, and often has troubled relationships.

In fact, as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, up to 6 percent of adults may have a narcissistic personality disorder. And most of them exhibit the following traits.

1. Sense of superiority

how to deal with a narcissist family member
how to deal with a narcissist family member

It is the primary trait of a narcissist. They have a sense of entitlement and in the chart of hierarchy, place themselves at the top. It doesn’t matter what their position in the family may be, but entitlement comes naturally to them, and mind you, this is not limited to adults.

2. Urge to control everything

Narcissist want and demand to control everything around them. Their sense of entitlement makes it seem logical to them that they should be in control—of everything.

3. Blame others for their loss

They have a tendency to pass on the blame to others. When things go as per their way, they take the credit for it, and when they are criticised, they blame others for the mistake.

how to deal with a narcissist family member
how to deal with a narcissist family member

Image courtesy: iStock

4. Show lack of empathy

These people can be selfish and self-involved. They are usually unable to understand what other people are feeling or empathise with anybody.

5. Have a fear of rejection

Another visible trait of narcissist person is that they are constantly afraid of being ridiculed and rejected. As a result of this trait, they find it difficult to trust others.

6. Believe in being perfect

A narcissist believes that everything needs to be perfect. They like to live in a bubble, where they are perfect, you should be perfect, events should happen exactly as expected, and life should play out precisely as they envision it. Well, this is an impossible demand.

if you spot any of these red flags, whether in your kids or even your spouse or other family members, it may be a good idea to intervene. Knowing how to deal with a narcissist family member, not only helps that member but also eases unnecessary pressure off you. Here’s a look at some practical tips to try.

How To Deal With A Narcissist Family Member

1. Don’t call them a narcissist

Well, it is quite natural and an obvious statement to make, but strictly avoid it. People with narcissistic personality disorder can’t reflect on their own behaviour and instead become obsessed with proving that you are the one with a problem.

They do not work on people’s feedback, no matter how constructive it may be. You can instead offer another route for them to try. Chances are your suggestion may get rejected, but at least the seeds are now planted in their minds.

2. Focus on you and your choices

Being around a narcissist can be emotionally draining and trigger unnecessary self-criticism. You can choose to limit your time with the said person. Instead, focus on the things and activities that matter to you and uplift your spirits.

You don’t have to stick around this person, if they don’t make you feel happy. The idea of having choices often helps and may make you feel less stressed.

3. Speak for yourself

A narcissist person often lacks empathy. Some people with narcissistic personalities enjoy making others squirm and uncomfortable. If that’s the case, try not to show your annoyance, as that will only urge them to continue.

However, if you really want to learn how to deal with a narcissist family member then speak up, especially if it is somebody you’d like to keep close in your life. Try to do this in a calm, and gentle manner.

how to deal with a narcissist family member
how to deal with a narcissist family member

Image courtesy: iStock

4. Find a support system

Spending too much time with a person who has a narcissistic personality can leave you emotionally drained. It is therefore important for you to create a strong support system.

You can rekindle old friendships and try to nurture new ones. Organise more togethers with family members. Basically, try to divert your mind from the toxic relationship.

5. Understand when the person may need professional help

People will NPD often think that they do not have any problem and the issue lies with everyone around them. It is a mental health condition and may require help.

However, if you feel you cannot help them yourself reach out for professional help.

6. Don’t argue with them unnecessarily

Arguing with a narcissist about their action often is fruitless. They will tend to picture everything in a manner so that the fault is all yours and all the victimhood as theirs. It is not possible to change what they think.

how to deal with a narcissist family member
how to deal with a narcissist family member

Image courtesy: iStock

7. Set boundaries

A person with a narcissistic personality can often be quite self-absorbed. They might think they are entitled to touch your things or invade into your personal space. Some may also give unsolicited advice and take credit for things you’ve done.

They often tend to cross many boundaries. It is important that you demarcate your boundaries and clearly let them know what you feel.

8. Stop keeping them in the spotlight

A narcissist person will work hard to keep themselves in the spotlight. However, this often means forcing you to push aside your own desires. You need to stop it immediately and communicate to them how you feel abandoned by their behaviour.

This type of personality can crop up easily in children who may be pampered. But really thrives during adulthood and can affect the children of narcissist parents in the long run. Because the fact is that being raised by a narcissistic parent is both, emotionally and psychologically abusive.

How Narcissist Parenting Affects Children

Just to help you understand, here’s how narcissist parenting affects children.

  • The child will always feel neglected

  • His/her feelings will not be acknowledged

  • The child will suffer from self-doubt and will not learn to identify or trust their own feelings

  • Identity of the child will be lost. He or she will be treated as an accessory to the parent.

  • Feelings of the child will be secondary and looks will be the prime importance

  • The child will be made to think that image is more important

  • He or she will not be encouraged to develop their own sense of self

  • The child may suffer from some level of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and/or anxiety in adulthood

The same applies to having your children around a family member who may be a narcissist. Either way, ensure that you lead by example. The best approach is to parent with empathy, which is the antithesis of narcissism. And if you spot narcissistic traits in your child, its best to nip it in the bud from quite early on.

Teach them about the importance of empathy, sharing, and caring. Children always emulate their parents, and if they watch you live by these moral values, they are sure to follow suit. Remember that it is easier to mould kids into being caring adults, but it is often difficult to mould an adult who has already formed a narcissistic personality.


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