Set Boundaries With a Narcissistic Stepdaughter by Saying This…
It’s never easy to talk to a narcissistic person. Narcissists LOVE to dominate a conversation but lack the will to listen. A narcissist is extraordinarily unlikely to accept or acknowledge anything that goes against their ideas.
To make things worse, you’ve noticed an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that your stepdaughter has narcissistic traits. That, or she is possessed.
Any opposing comment on your part is an attack on her fragile ego, whether the feedback is truthful, in the best interests of others, or not. Her inability to admit any wrongdoing makes setting boundaries extremely tricky – unless you cooperate and validate, she has little interest in what you have to say.
When you were first introduced, she may have quickly assigned you the role of the new best friend. You were startled that things were going so smoothly but happy to be welcomed and excited about the future. She wanted to bring you into her world, and do fun activities together. Then, one day, things changed, and the mask slipped.
If the narcissist in question is your stepdaughter, you might feel pressured to maintain at least the semblance of a good relationship, but don’t have enough authority or closeness to change her behavior truly.
For the sake of your relationship and whether you live together or not, you wanted to get along. You never imagined that you and your stepdaughter would be at loggerheads.
First, the bad news, you won’t be able to change her, and unless she undertakes some deep inner work within her psyche or seeks professional help, she’s unlikely ever to change.
Narcissists tend to be challenging to manage, but if you have to engage with her for the sake of your partner, you will need to set firm boundaries. Here lies your power. If you’re unsure of what to say, we’ve written some handy scripts.
Script 1 | Be Polite and Firm
As I have mentioned before, I am not comfortable with this behavior. Please don’t do this. Thank you for understanding.
The goal of this script is to provide a universal formula for expressing something that you don’t like. You can repeat it as much as possible with a polite tone, calmly. Say this as if you expected them to be reasonable (even if you don’t).
This script serves your relationship with your narcissistic stepdaughter and the people around you, showing you in a better light. It’s also to the point, so you can repeat it until the other person hears you. As we are dealing with narcissists, you probably will have to say it more than once.
In terms of “this behavior,” it’s smart to be as transparent as possible. For example, you might say, “I am not comfortable with you interrupting me when I speak” or “I am not comfortable with how you talk to me.” When you are specific, it becomes harder for the narcissist to twist your words or get offended.
Script 2 | Shut Down Any Discussion You Don’t Want to Have
I am fine with the situation and don’t want to talk about it. Let’s change the subject.
This script can be useful for situations where your stepdaughter begins to criticize you or speak about her own ideas as applied to you. For example, she might say that she has a better way of doing things or criticize your appearance or behavior.
All you have to do is to shut down the conversation. Once more, this script is generally more effective when it is said in a polite and calm tone of voice. When you say it, you should change the subject or repeat the same formula if your stepdaughter insists. Don’t engage in conversation and shut it down politely.
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
This article was originally published on https://www.nevertherightword.com. If this article appears on any other site other than https://www.nevertherightword.com without clear referencing it is a violation of the copyright owned by https://www.nevertherightword.com.
Script 3 | Dress Your Requests in Compliments
Hey, I wanted to see if you could do this. I think you’re the best person for the job.
Sometimes, you don’t want to fight. You just want to get something done. With a narcissist, it’s a good idea to play up to their inflated sense of self-esteem. Give them a compliment or show that you think that they are especially capable of doing this thing better than others.
This script can be tricky, as it’s easy to sound sarcastic, which may be counterproductive. Apply it when you think you can give a compliment more or less sincerely. What does this accomplish? It is a way of having a positive interaction with your stepdaughter and also a way that makes it more likely that she will listen to you.
In this course, executive coach and LinkedIn's head of organizational development Fred Kofman helps you make the choice to embrace life's challenges, to go from victim to hero, and shows how to help others do the same through support and coaching.
Script 4 | Offer Praise and Positive Recognition When You Can
I think that was really cool. I really liked how you handled that. You have a knack for cooking/sports/juggling.
Praising a narcissist may seem wrong. Isn’t their ego already big enough? It is, which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to make it bigger. It’s happened already. You can use positive reinforcement, praise, and validation as a way to improve your relationship with your stepdaughter or to make it more likely that she will listen to you.
Narcissists respond very badly to criticism but tend to be drawn to praise, so by offering this, you might be able to reach them more easily. Again, it’s more useful to try and find things that you can genuinely praise them for. Don’t be sarcastic or ironic as you say positive things.
If you have to alter the language to make it more sincere (e.g., praising the behavior but never the person), do it. She will respect your boundaries more if she is recognized for it.
Script 5 | Glamourize the Benefits
I know that you don’t really want to do this, but it would look so nice on your resume.
It seems to be very popular.
It’s such a glamorous thing to do!
You can ask most people to help even if they don’t derive a direct benefit but narcissists are fundamentally self-centered. When you need something from your stepdaughter or want her to pay attention, you may find it easier to draw her attention to a particular benefit to her.
If you can link something to a specific advantage, especially ones related to power, status, popularity, or recognition, you will have an easier time getting her on board.
Talking to a narcissist can be draining but there are ways to make it easier. Offer her what she wants and set clear boundaries by showing the narcissist it is more advantageous for her to do what you are saying. Don’t be afraid to give too much praise or recognition; instead, use this to your advantage to make conversations flow smoothly.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Kacel, E. L., Ennis, N., & Pereira, D. B. (2017). Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Clinical Health Psychology Practice: Case Studies of Comorbid Psychological Distress and Life-Limiting Illness. Behavioral medicine (Washington, D.C.), 43(3), 156–164. doi:10.1080/08964289.2017.1301875
Yakeley, J. (2018). Current understanding of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. BJPsych Advances, 24(5), 305-315. doi:10.1192/bja.2018.20
At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.
Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!
Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation. Learn more about me here.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
Relevant Books We Recommend...
In How To Kill A Narcissist: Debunking The Myth Of Narcissism And Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse, author JH Simon discusses how narcissism creates a set of thought processes, behaviors, and paradigms in its victim which must be changed from the inside. This is a book with two aims: to get clear on accurately identifying a narcissistic personality so it can be detected before something insidious takes place and (should you fall victim) present you with an inside-out strategy for healing, recovery, and freedom. This book is written to give control back the victims of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. CLICK HERE to get your copy.
Unfortunately, if you are living with a narcissistic parent you'll have a hard time developing your independence without backlash. In You're Not Crazy- It's Your Mother, the behavior of narcissists is explored in great detail. The book talks about how narcissists treat their children and the impact that this behavior has on those children's' lives. This book also offers helpful tools and resources to help those dealing with a narcissistic parent heal from the toxic and abusive relationship and to start living their lives for themselves. This is a great read for anyone who feels suffocated by the dynamics in their relationship with a parent. CLICK HERE to get your copy.
Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself by author Shahida Arabi offers practical tips and alternatives for recovering from the trauma of narcissistic abuse. Each chapter features links to relevant articles, podcasts, and social media resources. The book explores these resources and combines them into a comprehensive and revealing look at narcissistic abuse and its effects on those who have fallen victim to it. Since pathological narcissists are unlikely to seek treatment, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes them tick and determine the manipulative tactics they use. You can get your copy of Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare by CLICKING HERE.
Packed with over 325 ready-to-use phrases to use when working with challenging personalities, Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People by Renée Evenson is an all-in-one guide for resolving conflict. Organized for easy reference, this book offers powerful tools for defusing potentially explosive situations, such as; 20 challenging coworker behaviors, with specific phrases and actions for dealing with each, 10 difficult boss personality types, with guidelines for working through problems with each, blunder recovering tips, and a five-step process for turning bad situations into positive ones. We highly recommend this book. You can get your copy of Powerful Phrases by CLICKING HERE.
Check Out Our Recommended Resources.
Looking to become a digital publisher like us? We highly recommend these tried-and-tested tools:
We Recommend Elegant Themes
The Elegant Themes membership gives you complete access to 87 amazing themes and 3 awesome plugins, including Divi, the ultimate WordPress Theme and Visual Page builder. Elegant Themes have been building the world's most popular WordPress themes for the past 10 years, and rest assured their products will always be improved and maintained.
Build Anything With Divi Theme
One of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. Building layouts is easy and fast, making it ideal to create mockups and wireframes, prototyping a design, and creating the website itself. Build from the frontend or backend. The builder is intuitive. It's easy to learn and can be used by non-developers to create amazing websites.
Customize With Divi Cake Plugins
Divi Cake’s main goal is to help the members of the Divi community find the perfect premium Divi themes, layouts, and plugins created by leading Divi developers and designers. Shop hundreds of premium Divi products like Divi child themes, Divi layouts, and Divi plugins on Divi Cake, the community-driven Divi Marketplace. Find out more about Divi Cake here.
We ❤️Shutterstock Media
We get our images from the OG in stock assets. Boost your business with the right images. They're royalty-free and ready to use. Footage & Music Libraries. 4k Images Added per Hour. No Daily Download Limit. Speedy Search & Discovery. With flexible plans and countless amounts of premium content uploaded weekly, we had to mention Shutterstock.
Skill-Up With LinkedIn Learning
When you want to enhance your professional skills with expert-led, online video tutorials, the only place to go is LinkedIn Learning (Lynda). With a subscription you get 24/7, unlimited access to over 13,000 business, design & tech online courses and with a free month. We like them because we get expert-led courses that we can access anytime, anywhere. What's not to love?
Reliable Hosting With SiteGround
SiteGround boasts a whole list of fantastic features at amazingly affordable prices. Along with multiple growth options, free site transfers and domains, built-in Content Delivery Network integrations, WordPress support, AND human support we wouldn't go to anyone else. They're basically faster, safer, and more supportive- you can check them out here.
We Trust Grammarly Premium
Even seasoned writers need a helping hand at times, that’s why we trust Grammarly Premium. As the World's Most Accurate Online Grammar Checker, Grammarly Premium goes beyond grammar to help you ensure that everything you write is clear, engaging, and professional. Try Grammarly Premium’s AI-powered assistant here.
Find Graphics With Creative Market
Creative Market is the world’s marketplace for design. Bring your creative projects to life with ready-to-use design assets from independent creators around the world. We love the unique finds, social media templates, vectors you name it they have it. I also doesn't hurt that our founder has a little store on there...
Donating to Never the Right Word will
help us produce more free content. Thank you!