Changing Codependent Dynamics in Abusive Relationships

Changing Codependent Dynamics

Parenting a Child with BPD or NPD

Because codependents in abusive relationships lack communication skills and boundaries, parents react to their troubled child in unhelpful ways. Their child has been used to getting demands met and running the show, often without any responsibility. All children need boundaries with consistent consequences, especially those with NPD and BPD.

Read: The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Why Parents Need To Put Down Their Phones

Sometimes parents blow up in frustration, which makes them feel guilty and shame their child. To compensate, they might relent on a boundary-making matter worse. Punishment and consequences should never be administered in anger, but in a matter-of-fact tone, and ideally should relate to the offense; e.g., “If you throw food, you must clean it up (or leave the table).”

Children need support and their feelings mirrored, but not indulged. They especially need to be taught empathy and the impact of their behavior on others. It’s important to model this and respect their feelings. Let them know that their actions affect other people in either positive or counterproductive ways.

For example: “How would it feel if your friend stole your toy)? Would you be hurt or angry? What about when your friend shares a toy? When you take your friend’s toy, he won’t want to play with you.”

Children with BPD need to learn self-soothing techniques and be guided to take gradual steps toward independence and self-sufficiency.

Parents underestimate the power and leverage they have to insist that their child behave, get counseling, complete chores, or seek employment. Often, they’re afraid that their child with BPD will die or commit suicide. Their fears make them easier to manipulate.

By not reacting, children will realize that their manipulative tactics no longer work. However, it takes tremendous courage for parents to stay steadfast regardless. It’s not easy to keep calm and love a child who is constantly disobedient, threatening, and saying cruel things.

Outside support is essential. Seek psychotherapy and Twelve-Step meetings, such as CoDA or Al-Anon. If addiction is involved, find an appropriate meeting for relatives of substance abusers.

If you’re dealing with someone highly defensive or narcissistic, follow the steps in Dealing with a Narcissist.

© 2019 Darlene Lancer


Written by: Darlene Lancer
Originally appeared on: Darlene Lancer
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Changing Codependent Dynamics in Abusive Relationships
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Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an expert author on relationships and codependency. She's counseled individuals and couples for 30 years and coaches internationally. Her books and other online booksellers and her website.View Author posts