Fran’s heart ached so much for her narcissistic, bullying, abusive son.  Even worse for her than his hostility and anger towards her was that he couldn’t or wouldn’t take care of himself even though he was 41.

He was bright enough and talented enough to succeed but he was an incompetent loser.  He lost jobs, apartments and girlfriends.  Fran was afraid if she didn’t bail him out he’d get depressed and turn to drugs or suicide.  He begged for her help but when she’d advised him or gave him the money he wanted, he’d turn nasty.  Then he’d blame her for all his problems and yell at her to stop controlling him.

Fran felt guilty and tortured herself.
She thought since he was an arrogant, entitled narcissist, it must be her fault.  Since he hated her, she must have done many things wrong.  His therapist agreed with him.  The only way she could think of atoning for whatever sins he thought she’d committed was to keep giving him everything he wanted and to accept his verbal and emotional bullying and abuse.

Her narcissistic parents had abandoned her when she was young and she’d vowed never to abandon her child.  She felt compelled to rescue him, to save him from himself and the hostile world.

We can’t rescue someone who doesn’t want to be rescued.  Only he could save himself.
Yes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  You can’t save a person’s soul when his pit is bottomless.  Fran couldn’t save him from himself, from the laziest, greediest, most entitled parts of himself.  

Giving him what he wanted would only enable him to stay a selfish bully.
Fran’s son didn’t really want to learn to be independent.  He always complained but he wouldn’t make the steps he knew he needed to take.  He wanted Fran to make all the effort so he could get what he wanted easily, and then reject and lash out at her.  That game was more important to him than succeeding independently.  He’d much rather fail and have excuses to justify his failure and his reasons for blaming her.  

First, they have to be transformed on the inside.
First, they have to become people who are determined to pull themselves up no matter how hard that is.   Then, they have to take difficult steps to help themselves out of the pit they dug for themselves.  Only after Fran’s son made concerted effort over time against adversity could offered help be helpful.  And it would be better coming from someone else.  Fran had to take herself out of the rescuer/meddler role.

What to do while we’re praying for their transformation.
This is the hardest role because it goes against our promises to ourselves and our natural inclination to reach out and put a healing balm on our baby’s pain.  We must remember they’re no longer babies.  And pain, suffering and natural consequences can be the greatest stimulators to their developing the strength, courage and determination they need to survive.

Fran decided to break the game – without his “understanding” or permission.

  1. She told her son she was finally weaning him.  She’d stop paying for his phone, car insurance and rent.  She’d stop covering his debts when he’d overspent.  To help him, she’d stop meddling in his life; she’d stop rescuing him. She was no longer a hovering mommy to a little child.  
  2. She’d continue being a cheerleader encouraging him to solve the problems and difficulties he made for himself.  Maybe, when he bottomed out he’d get the help he needed on his own.  Maybe not.  But she’d let him fail and bear the consequences.
  3. She said she wouldn’t listen to his problems and suffering.  They were boring and trivial.  She’d be glad to talk with him about was exciting in their lives; books, movies, music, art, etc.
  4. She said her home was no longer his home; his childhood room no longer his room.  He was an adult now and had to be a guest in her home.  And he knew the rules for behavior of a guest who’d be welcomed back.  Then she gave him all his childhood stuff and converted his old room into a studio for herself.
  5. She said if he showed himself incapable of making great use of his gifts and talents, she’d find other people who would make something great with her love and money, and appreciate her in return.

Of course, her son blew up and tested her resolve.
He ranted and raved at her.  When he couldn’t bully her into submission, he begged and pleaded and threated to die on the streets.  When that didn’t work he tried worming his way back to her money bit by bit.

And of course, she sometimes gave in but she then went right back to her chosen course.  One moment of weakness did not set a precedent.  And of course, it took months of manipulation attempts before her son finally started becoming independent.

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:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. 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.

AuthorBen Leichtling