Narcissistic Grandparents Tactics
Narcissistic Grandparents Tactics

Navigating the grandparent-grandchild relationship is often a cherished part of family life. However, what happens when this relationship takes a challenging turn? Join us as we delve into the world of narcissistic grandparents tactics and learn how to deal with them. In this article, we’ll explore how certain grandparents can unknowingly employ narcissistic behaviors that impact family dynamics and even destroy lives.

Discovering these narcissistic grandparents tactics and their impact on grandchildren can be eye-opening, offering you insights into potentially damaging family dynamics. We’ll provide you with strategies to maintain harmony, ensuring the well-being of your loved ones. So, let’s explore this intriguing subject further and learn how to foster healthier family relationships while dealing with narcissistic behavior.

Definition of Narcissistic Behavior

Narcissistic behavior stems from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a mental health condition characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. While it’s crucial to remember that not all grandparents with narcissistic traits have NPD, understanding the core characteristics of narcissism is essential for recognizing their behavior.

Narcissistic grandparents may exhibit a range of behaviors that revolve around self-centeredness, manipulation, and the desire for control within the family. These traits can manifest in various ways, affecting not only the parents but also the grandchildren within the family unit.

In the following sections, we’ll delve into how these narcissistic traits specifically manifest in grandparents, exploring ten common tactics they may employ. Understanding these narcissistic grandparents tactics is the first step towards effectively dealing with them and ensuring the well-being of your family.

How Narcissistic Traits Manifest in Grandparents

Narcissistic traits can manifest in grandparents in ways that impact the grandparent-grandchild relationship and the broader family dynamics. Here, we’ll explore how these traits become evident in their behavior:

#1. Grandiosity and Attention-Seeking

Narcissistic grandparents often seek constant admiration and attention. They may exaggerate their own achievements and importance, making every family gathering about them. For example, at a grandchild’s birthday party, they might insist on being the center of attention, diverting the focus away from the child.

#2. Manipulation and Guilt-Tripping

These grandparents excel at manipulation, often using guilt as a powerful tool to achieve their goals. For instance, they might guilt-trip their grandchildren or their parents into complying with their wishes. They may say things like, “If you loved me, you’d do this for me,” putting emotional pressure on family members.

#3. Lack of Empathy

Narcissistic grandparents frequently struggle to understand or acknowledge the feelings and needs of their grandchildren. For example, they may dismiss a child’s emotions or experiences, invalidating their feelings.

#4. Triangulation

Triangulation is one of the most common of narcissistic grandparents tactics. Triangulation involves creating conflicts and divisions within the family by pitting family members against each other. Narcissistic grandparents might manipulate situations to turn one family member against another, causing stress and tension within the family.

#5. Boundary Violations

Respecting boundaries is often a challenge for narcissistic grandparents. They may invade personal space, make decisions without consulting parents, or ignore established rules. For instance, they may overstep by disciplining their grandchildren without parental consent.

#6. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is another common example of narcissistic grandparents tactics. Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where they distort reality to make others doubt their own perceptions or sanity. This can be particularly confusing and damaging for grandchildren, causing them to question their own experiences and feelings.

#7. Competitiveness

Narcissistic grandparents may perceive their grandchildren as rivals. They might feel threatened by their successes or individuality, leading to unhealthy comparisons between grandchildren.

#8. Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail is another tactic they use to control their grandchildren’s actions. They may make their grandchildren feel responsible for their happiness or well-being, creating a sense of obligation.

#9. Conditional Love

Narcissistic grandparents may express love and approval only when their conditions and expectations are met. For instance, they might withhold affection unless their grandchildren conform to their demands, causing emotional distress.

#10. Narcissistic Rivalry

In some cases, narcissistic grandparents engage in a power struggle with their own adult children, using their grandchildren as pawns to exert control. They may manipulate situations to create tension between their adult children and their grandchildren.

Understanding the signs of a narcissistic grandparent and their tactics is vital for dealing with narcissistic grandparents. In the following sections, we will provide strategies and advice on how to handle these situations and mitigate their impact on your family.

Narcissistic Grandparents Tactics: Impact on Grandchildren

The tactics employed by narcissistic grandparents can have profound and lasting effects on their grandchildren. It’s essential to recognize the potential impact these behaviors can have on young minds and emotional well-being. Here are some of the ways these tactics can affect grandchildren:

  1. Emotional Distress: Constant exposure to manipulation, guilt-tripping, and emotional blackmail can lead to emotional distress in grandchildren. They may experience anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem as a result of these tactics.
  2. Confusion: Gaslighting, where reality is distorted, can leave grandchildren feeling confused and unsure about their own perceptions and experiences. This can lead to a sense of self-doubt and mistrust.
  3. Insecurity: Conditional love and constant criticism from narcissistic grandparents can erode a child’s sense of security and self-worth. They may grow up feeling like they are never good enough.
  4. Interference in Parent-Child Bond: Narcissistic grandparents often seek to control and manipulate their adult children, which can interfere with the parent-child bond. This can be especially detrimental to the child’s emotional development.
  5. Difficulty in Setting Boundaries: Grandchildren who witness boundary violations by their grandparents may struggle with setting healthy boundaries in their own relationships later in life.
  6. Stress and Tension: Triangulation and competitiveness within the family can create an environment of stress and tension for grandchildren, making family gatherings or interactions uncomfortable.
  7. Impact on Self-Identity: Constant comparison to siblings or cousins and the pressure to conform to the grandparent’s expectations can impact a child’s self-identity and self-expression.
  8. Long-Term Psychological Effects: The impact of dealing with narcissistic grandparents can extend into adulthood, affecting how grandchildren form relationships, trust others, and view themselves.

Understanding these potential impacts is crucial for parents and guardians in addressing the challenges posed by narcissistic grandparents. In the next section, we will provide strategies on how to deal with these tactics effectively, safeguarding the well-being of your children and yourself.

How to Deal with Narcissistic Grandparents Tactics

Dealing with narcissistic grandparents tactics requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Here are several strategies and techniques to help you navigate these challenging situations:

#1. Set Boundaries for Yourself & Your Children

Establishing clear boundaries is paramount when dealing with narcissistic grandparents. Take the time to sit down with your partner or co-parent and discuss what boundaries need to be in place to protect your family’s emotional well-being. Make sure these boundaries are communicated firmly but respectfully to the grandparents.

  • Example: If the grandparents tend to criticize your parenting, set a boundary that prohibits unsolicited advice. Politely express that while you appreciate their concern, you and your partner are confident in your parenting decisions.

#2. Prioritize Care for Yourself & Your Children

Remember that self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for your well-being and that of your children. Don’t hesitate to seek support from therapists, support groups, or trusted friends who can offer guidance and empathy.

  • Example: Schedule regular self-care activities, such as meditation, exercise, or a hobby you enjoy. By prioritizing your own mental health, you set a positive example for your children.

#3. Limit Contact with Narcissistic Grandparents

When interactions with narcissistic grandparents become emotionally taxing, consider limiting contact. This doesn’t mean cutting them off entirely, but rather managing the frequency and duration of visits.

  • Example: If you typically visit every weekend, consider scaling back to once a month or as needed. Reducing exposure to toxic behavior can protect your family’s mental health.

#4. Be Mentally Prepared for Difficult Conversations

When addressing the issue with the grandparents, anticipate resistance and defensiveness. Be mentally prepared to remain composed during these conversations, emphasizing the importance of open and respectful communication.

  • Example: If you need to discuss a specific issue, rehearse your talking points beforehand. Stay focused on the topic at hand and avoid getting sidetracked by emotional outbursts.

#5. Avoid Confrontation as Long as Possible

In some situations, avoiding direct confrontation can help maintain a semblance of peace. Carefully evaluate whether addressing certain issues will yield positive results or escalate tensions.

  • Example: If a confrontation seems inevitable during a family gathering, consider postponing the discussion until a more private and appropriate setting can be arranged.

#6. Stay Calm and Emotions in Check

Narcissistic grandparents may provoke emotional reactions. Practice emotional regulation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness, to stay calm during interactions.

  • Example: If the grandparents attempt to incite an argument, take a deep breath, and respond calmly and rationally. Refuse to engage in heated arguments that may only escalate the situation.

#7. Focus on Positive Aspects

Shift your focus towards the positive aspects of your family life and relationships. Encourage your children to develop healthy connections with other family members and friends.

  • Example: Highlight the importance of spending quality time with extended family members who foster a nurturing and supportive environment.

#8. Redirect Conversations Away from Toxic Discussions

Steer conversations away from topics that tend to trigger conflict or criticism. Redirect discussions to neutral or positive subjects to maintain a more peaceful atmosphere.

  • Example: If the grandparents start criticizing your choices, politely but assertively redirect the conversation to a neutral topic like a recent family vacation or a shared hobby.

#9. Empathize with the Grandparents

While challenging, try to understand that narcissistic behavior often stems from deep-seated insecurities and emotional wounds. Empathizing with the grandparents may help you cope with their actions more compassionately.

  • Example: Recognize that their behavior might be a result of their own unresolved issues from the past. Express understanding without condoning their actions.

#10. Seek Support from Other Family Members / Friends

Lean on other family members or friends who understand the situation. Their support can be invaluable in helping you navigate the challenges posed by narcissistic grandparents.

  • Example: Reach out to a sibling, cousin, or close friend who has experienced similar challenges with the grandparents. Sharing experiences and advice can provide emotional relief.

#11. Consider Professional Help

In some cases, seeking professional assistance from therapists or counselors experienced in dealing with family dynamics can provide valuable guidance and support.

  • Example: If you find that the situation is escalating or causing significant distress, consult a mental health professional who can help mediate family discussions and offer coping strategies.

#12. Protect Your Children (above all else!)

Always prioritize the safety and well-being of your children. If you believe their emotional or physical health is at risk due to the actions of narcissistic grandparents, take immediate steps to protect them.

  • Example: If you notice any signs of emotional distress or harm to your children resulting from interactions with the grandparents, take swift action to limit contact and seek professional guidance if necessary.

#13. Document Behavior: Record Problematic Incidents

Keep a detailed record of any problematic incidents or interactions with narcissistic grandparents. This documentation can be invaluable if legal action or intervention becomes necessary.

  • Example: Maintain a journal where you record dates, times, locations, and descriptions of specific incidents, along with any witnesses present.

#14. Maintain Your Integrity

Stay true to your values and principles throughout this journey. Acting with integrity sets a positive example for your children and helps you maintain your emotional strength.

  • Example: Remind yourself and your children of the importance of honesty, kindness, and empathy in your family, and lead by example.

#15. Distance Yourself If Necessary

If the situation becomes unbearable and detrimental to your family’s well-being, consider distancing yourself from narcissistic grandparents entirely. Your family’s mental health should always be the top priority.

  • Example: Evaluate whether a temporary or permanent break from contact is necessary to protect your family’s emotional health. Seek legal advice if needed to establish clear boundaries.


Navigating the complexities of a family with narcissistic grandparents can be a challenging journey, but your commitment to understanding and addressing narcissistic grandparents tactics is a crucial step toward maintaining a harmonious family dynamic.

By setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and seeking support when needed, you’ve shown resilience and dedication to safeguarding your family’s well-being.

Remember, the well-being of your children should always come first. By following these strategies and maintaining your integrity, you can minimize the negative impact of narcissistic behavior and create an environment where your family can thrive.