Vera couldn’t sleep and couldn’t stop obsessing on her two adult children who were continuously selfish, bullying and abusive. She knew it hadn’t started when one was displeased that the wonderful wedding Vera and her husband had provided wasn’t lavish enough, while the other was angry that Vera and her husband hadn’t bought her a house as a wedding present.
They’d always been entitled, demanding and narcissistic. They’d begun working on the third sister to estrange from their parents also.
Vera was overcome with grief and failure. They were so angry; she must have done something wrong.
Not true. Vera hadn’t done anything particularly bad to them. She hadn’t even over-indulged them. She’d tried to teach them the value of hard work and the importance of gratitude for the things they got. But they hadn’t wanted to learn those lessons. They’d whined, complained and demanded when they didn’t get what they wanted. They thought the world owed them everything they wanted.
Vera kept asking, “Why so many selfish, narcissistic, entitled, adult children now?”
Her friends gave Vera explanations that depressed and immobilized her; that made her feel powerless, helpless, hopeless:
- If the kids are spoiled it must be the parents’ fault. She’d either been too harsh or too indulgent. And she should never talk about it. It was too embarrassing.
- The children were subverted by the experts, the media and their friends. The forces in the world were too strong for them to resist.
- There must be something wrong in the water or the tooth paste because so many adult children were like that. Or, maybe, Vera simply had bad genes that ruined her children.
I do think many commonly accepted rules of parenting are wrong. For example, I think it’s false that making children happy builds inner strength, character and kindness. But knowing that now is not going to help Vera or other afflicted parents.
These excuses and justifications for her adult children only made her feel more ashamed and guilty. She kept obsessing on every incident she could remember in order to identify the thing she must have done wrong. Then, maybe, she could apologize and reconcile
Explanations that gave Vera clarity and hope were:
- It’s not Vera’s fault. An epidemic of selfish, entitled, arrogant adult children has occurred in every society I’ve studied that has gotten wealthy. For example; we have Greek plays written 2,400 years ago, after the Greeks conquered Persia, where the next generations of adult children treated their parents even worse than adult children do now.
- No matter what happened to them, the individual adult children always made the choices. Fear, greed and the pleasure of torturing someone only stimulated their selfish, narcissistic behavior. Vera decided the problem was her children, they were making choices while being swept away by their thoughts and feelings. They chose to be weak, lazy and cowardly. They chose to remain childish; manipulating or beating their parents into giving them goodies.
Could Vera teach them they were being selfish, arrogant and narcissistic?
She saw that everything she and her friends had tried with their children had failed. The problem couldn’t be solved by lectures, education, scripture. You can’t educate people who don’t want to be educated. You can’t educate people who enjoy feeling victimized and responding with righteous anger. You can’t get a scorpion to stop stinging, a vulture to stop wanting carcasses to pick on or a narcissist to change her spots.
Those children would have to learn the hard way; through suffering when their tactics no longer worked. Narcissists need a complete change of heart. Miracles are above Vera’s pay grade.
Were her friends right when they told her to always keep the door open, no matter how much pain they inflicted on her?
No. Keeping the door open made the predators happy and gave them feelings of control and power. One of her daughters had even said she wanted to inflict on Vera ten times the pain she’d felt when she hadn’t gotten what she wanted. Keeping the door open only reinforced her daughters’ joy at tormenting and torturing her. Keeping the door open guaranteed failure.
Vera decided to protect herself from predators and parasites who wanted to bleed her dry.
She told those daughters she was done with them the way they were. She was no longer their servant, slave or whipping-girl. She stopped making excuses for them, stopped reaching out and stopped apologizing. When they attacked her, she laughed at their temper tantrums or told them off angrily; especially in public.
She told them she’d find people who would return her love and kindness with love and kindness of their own. She cut them off and started going out and being as happy as she could.
She told them she’d always love the potential for good she still saw in them, but she despised the narcissistic, characterless people they’d chosen to become. She hoped their struggle to make themselves happy would help them develop good character. She knew they could do it if they wanted to.
This path has the possibility of success, which is better than the guarantee of failure on the path of accepting blame and always reaching out.
Of course, it was hard. Vera’s heart was broken for a while.
Her daughters were stunned and upset. They’d lost all their power and control. One became even more vicious but the other learned the hard way. And that daughter and the youngest one turned against the vicious one.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.