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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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How can I handle maintaining even a light relationship with

Customer Question

How can I handle maintaining even a light relationship with my older daughter, 27, a highly sensitive person and visibly narcissistic, whom I will see again this Friday for breakfast after being estranged for 1-1/2 months (not the first time; but the longest span so far)? She finally contacted me and said she was ready to see me again. She still lives at home (2 miles away from me) with her boyfriend and her dad, my ex of 17 years, who always ultra-spoiled and indulged her, works full-time but has not "launched" and neither has he, a free-lance graphic designer ultra-spoiled by his mother. I am the opposite of a narcissist - modest, humble, always other-oriented and doing things to please others (I even took a quiz). I don't want to resume being her narcissistic "supply"; yet the reason for the estrangements has always been when I tried to speak my mind, say the truth and assert myself - she'd fly into fits of narcissistic rage and I was punished/scolded by her for it. I do want to see her now and then, for it was terrible to have her totally out of my life; but do I have to go back to walking on eggshells in order to do it?...Need help, please - I have 4 days to prepare!! Thanks!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 1 year ago.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Dear friend,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I believe that I can help.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I am glad you are still online.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

It seems that you have read a great deal.

Customer:

I'm reading your info as it comes in - hope you can give me lots of details for the $42 I have spent!...I'm here, watching and looking at the screen - thanks - Nina B.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You know what you have to do, I believe, and walk on eggshells and make her feel great and don't let her control you but very gracefully.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

What books have you read? I know some good ones that will help you "do your homework".

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

It is not that hard. You have to be like a bullfighter and never let her hit you but just your magic cape.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If she stings you, don't let her see it in your face or body movement. You do not want to be her source of supply any more than you would offer Dracula your neck.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

It won't be hard. Keep it light and watch out for the trick questions. It will be a battle of wits and you win the fight by not fighting.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Disarm her, tell her how great she looks, praise her success and work, and let her brag if she has something to brag about

Customer:

Thank you for the info you are writing. I am reading it as you type it in. As for what I have been reading - I've been reading Dr. Sam Vaknin's articles, for one. I know he is not technically a therapist, but I find his writings extremely detailed and sooo in line with what I have experienced with my daughter, who is tall, slender, very pretty, and very "stingy" - oh yes, oh yes! I see you used that word! I also have The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists - and have read some pages on Amazon of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, since they let you look through some pages of books.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I was just about to recommend

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

and had it ready.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Sam Vaknin is one of the great authorities and his work is quite valid and useful.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If your daughter is very stingy then be very generous generous with her.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Another great book is

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :



You must avoid all of the pitfalls which you know so well.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Don't discuss her father unless she brings him up. Don't say anything negative about him either, even if you have a long list (which no doubt you do).

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I see you typing so I am going to wait.

Customer:

You say to praise her - but from my readings and study, I've learned that narcissists, including my daughter, don't react much to praise - it is like a re-iteration of their magical thinking. They react mostly only to criticism, even suggestions of trying something, doing something a different way, etc. - by going into fits of narcissistic rage. My efforts to get her not to "scold" me were always fruitless - her scolds were often "this needs to stop" and "I've asked you nicely." She is very hyper-vigilant of me and although not of superior IQ (probably an 80 or so - has an AA in interior design from a trade school), she is quick to try and guess when I am trying extra-hard to say the right thing - she will say "Are you just saying that?". She is quick-witted and yet she is a major "splitter" - things are "black and white" with her where I am concerned. I am either labeled OK, or wrong...let me send this rather than type more -

Customer:

You are providing some great tactics, though - will I be able to print this out? Guess I can copy and paste your great advice in a Word document - I must read and re-read it! I love the bullfighter and the cape analogy - GREAT!!...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You should not try to let yourself worry about this and be as relaxed as possible. The less you say the better as long as you say enough.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Narcissists thrive on praise. It must be authentic so that she cannot accuse you and if she does you just have to out-con her and say coyly,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

"yes, of course you look beautiful today. I have always admired your beauty. Of course I'm your mom, but I still think I have a bit of critical thinking in me." or something like that.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

She may be hypervigilant because she is looking for an edge. You must be all round corners with nothing to grasp on to. Ignore her vigilance. She does not want you to notice her thinking.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Narcissists are such con artists and know how to manipulate others. Make yourself immune and play the same game.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Of course it is disappointing to have to communicate on this stilted level, but it is better than doing battle.

Customer:

Good points - it's just that she seems to see right through me, and if she thinks I am thinking about the chance that she will sting me, she will say "What's the matter, MOM?". As for praise - I see what you mean. She is a fantastic singer of standards and show tunes (I am a pianist & vocalist who plays 900 songs in any key without music, plus I read music - am a professional performer & she inherited raw talent), and I've praised her many times, but the estrangement was set off when she told me I could no longer come over to "her" house because her dad was upset about something the last time I had come over and he had her tell me I couldn't come over. She and I were rehearsing to maybe eventually do a duo act - but she just passed the message along, and wouldn't even ask him what had happened - she is close to him and he indulges her so she didn't want to make "waves"! So that really got to me, especially when I said, "Wow - wow. Could you possibly ask him what it was?" and she said, "I don't know - you'd have to ask him yourself." He is a difficult, offhanded and disrespectful type Aquarian, who does as he pleases and is snide and condescending - when I was married to him he bullied me like crazy - but last week, I actually managed to meet him at a coffee place and I achieved getting to neutral ground. Amazing of me! I am a real trooper! But altho' he said he would mention it to her, when I checked with him via text a few days ago, he said he had NOT told her of his and my "truce." Well - now she wants to see me and I decided (is this good?) that I will NOT tell her of my meeting with him - I will just leave it that she doesn't know about it, and maybe she will just "happen" to eventually find out. Will read your info now! I type 78 WPM so that is why there is so much in each of my posts!...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I am also a keyboard player and can play hundreds of songs by ear and arrange them fluently in several keys but could learn odd keys fairly quickly. Just thought I'd pass on our commonality.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If you have succeeded in getting to neutral ground with our ex then you have learned a great deal. already and are read for the main event. He is just the opening act.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You could say briefly that you had coffee with her dad recently and had a nice time. It was good to see him.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

That is enough information about that and conveys the truce.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Limit your information.

Customer:

I love that! Round corners!...I will use that - absolutely! I love your Dracula and the neck analogy, too...you are right, stilted is better than doing battle. I am sooooo open, and my friends who are like me, down-to-earth and NOT narcissistic, are so easy for me to be myself with. It's like I have to stifle my Scorpio, Italian, NYC-born & raised nature - with my friends, I can speak openly and honestly, give them a true assessment, and they are open to it. Narcissists simply lash out with their venom in the same scenario - and since I was laid off and took an early retirement in March 2012, I've made a few more friends who are like me, so you see - it is DOUBLY hard to "change up" and be this blander, always-positive, one-dimensional self. I am a normal person used to a "balance" - but with her, it is - "Mom, I don't want to hear anything negative."...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Don't give her anything negative. By the way I was born and raised in NYC as well. "you gotta probm wid dat?"

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You will have to play the role in order to win the Oscar/Grammy/Emmy.

Customer:

You are also a pianist?!?! Great! That is neat. Yes, I really did fight the tide and arranged to meet him and I was glad he agreed, although he changed the time and location at the last minute, and when parting ways, he got a phone call and simply turned and walked away, talking on the phone. I sent him a short e-mail to say I was glad we could meet up and get some things cleared up, and at this time, things are on neutral ground with him. He could be set-off at any moment, so especially since I want some kind of association with my older daughter (her sister, 22, in college up in northern CA, is a whole 'nother story - she is just self-centered and self-absorbed, and loves to "grandstand" - she, too, was over-spoiled by "Disney Dad"), I have to just stay extremely bland and neutral in any dealings with him, and I can never say anything further about how much his spoiling of his 2 princesses (my only children, drat!) has cost me, and has hurt them. To believe spoiling is a form of child abuse would be like getting someone to believe the sun will never come up, ever again...OK, you see what I mean!...I like what you are writing and it is of great help, as I've said...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

My piano teacher was professional broadway show pianist, Martin Brown. My Uncle Herb Dawson was Skitch Henderson's partner on XXXXX XXXXX every night.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I still can read music like an intermediate child but I can play anyhow.

Customer:

OK, so I could say I had coffee with him - just in passing - that sounds fine then, if it comes up! I often give "TMI" and she has trouble with that. She and I are of such polar opposite mindsets - hard to believe I popped her out back in mid-June of 1986 (Gemini)...but then, first-borns often take more after the opposite parent, and/or a grandparent...she is much more like her dad, and her rigidity about a lot of things is, interestingly, a lot like my Mom (still living, luckily, at age 87 years young!) who is a Taurus and stubborn about many things!...

Customer:

You and I have a lot in common! That sure is interesting - NYC - piano - many songs - "I got no prob'm widdat!"

Customer:

So I should just mention I met up with him in passing - if it comes up. I have tended to bring things up that were not necessary to bring up, so if it doesn't come up, I can always just leave it alone. I am one of those people who is a "geyser" with all my info being right there at the surface, waiting to come out - it is soooo hard for me to keep my mouth shut!!!...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You must try to be dormant. Be the quiet one and let her talk. You can be prepared with a few interesting sotries or even something to bring for show and tell. (Pictures? Old pictures?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

stories

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Something to distract her from any destructive talk.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Let the punches land. They are just words. Don't give her too many openings. In fact don't give her any. You love her and you should be happy to see her. Show her that and don't expect anything in return.

Customer:

Glad you "dig" Dr. Vaknin!...That is a good validation for me. His readings have been excellent therapy during the 7 weeks or so since I have seen or heard from my daughter - from May 11th to yesterday when I got her text. One thing she has often gotten annoyed with me about, is when I say, "Have you checked out (looked into; considered) ________ (whatever it is)?" It's like she gets offended. Yet she will often say, "You need to clear out some clutter (clean your mouse keyboard, clean out your car, etc.)!" She wants to find fault with me, many times. I know now it is part of the narcissist's tactic to make themselves feel superior, better. I have a 124 IQ, went to Music & Art H.S. (bet you know of it!), have a BA Magna Cum Laude in Music (from CCNY - I stayed at home while attending college), and although I am not a huge money-maker, I've had my measure of success. I don't believe she has ever been impressed by it per se - I don't think she even knows or cares where I went to high school or college!!...That must be part of the whole issue of narcissism - never give another person any real importance or creedence, you know?...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

135th street?

Customer:

I like that - dormant! She has often said, straight out, to me - "Mom, you're high stress." That is just me! My band name is "All Key'd Up"! I have a site - if you'd ever like, you could look me up under my name, Nina Beck - and you would see that name! I am high energy, always a wellspring of info and things to say, but maybe I need to get decaf coffee and just say "I've been drinking decaf now and then, just as a change!" - She will pick up on that and say, "Yeah, MOM, maybe it'll help you de-stress, if you drink enough of it." She has that snide capacity just like her father! It is unbelievable how similar in nature they can be...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Don't offer her any advice and thank her when she offer YOU advice. "yes, my keyboard does look nasty" etc.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

How do you clean yours?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Kin to Julian?

Customer:

Yes - 135th Street - & Convent Avenue - not a great area - but the campus with its huge granite buildings was so impressive! I do want to get back to it the next time I go back to NYC, which I hope will be within the next year. I haven't been back there since 2009!...Do you live there now?

Customer:

If you can't answer that, it's OK (i.e., where you live!)...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

KY

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Kin to Julian Beck?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

The actor (Living Theater).

Customer:

What is Kin to Julian?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Beck

Customer:

Oh, I see. Ha, ha! Well, I think I will try using some wipes. No - I am not related to Julian Beck. My ex has a 1/2 brother named Jeff Beck - but not "the" Jeff Beck - this Jeff Beck plays trumpet in the San Diego Chargers band. My maiden name is XXXXX XXXXX I kept the name 'Beck' because it is much easier to spell. No one could spell 'Passantino' even when I spelled it. They invariably wrote it down wrong. There are soooo many ways to spell that name wrong!...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You in California? San Diego?

Customer:

I'm in L.A. - South Bay area. Moved out West in 1980. I think Kanye & Kim should have named the little girl "Headinoutte" West (as, headin' out West). Would have been more interesting than North! They could call her Hedy for short, like my late grandma, Hedwig, was called. Silly, silly. Anyway, as far as my daughter goes...you can relate, I presume - have you had to deal with narcissistic people in similar ways?...

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I'm listening to Wave. :)P

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes, narcissists abound.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Key of D.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Narcissist's victims may be the most significant group of people I talk to.

Customer:

I play and sing it in the original key, D - most songs, I sing about a fourth up or down from the original key since I am an alto, as is my daughter. Do you believe narcissists have burgeoned in the new generation - Gen Y? I gigged with a Gen Y jazz singer yesterday, and it was ALL about her - no team effort - she gave me an incomplete gig address - house number but it was an apt. building! She gave no unit no.! She arrived just after I did, and gave me the unit number verbally, then said "Just go in through the side entrance!" With that, she went in, herself, and never came back to check on me to see if I knew where to go. Well, duh - I had my stuff going on to my cart, and she saw that, but that entrance had 5 stairs, sooooo...I mean....as in Saturday Night Live - "Really????"...Musicians with carts do not "do" more than 2 steps! I think she knew that - she just faked me out without a 2nd thought. When I went around the back, to the actual main entrance where there was an elevator, she called me and said, "Where are you? I TOLD you where to go in!!" She had no regard for me as a person or musician, or a person with a cart! I made pretty good money on the gig but I will never work with that blatant narcissist again!...Oh, wow - narcissists' victims are your biggest group!?! Wow. Probably mostly folks married to them? Ever deal with people who have a narcissistic son or daughter?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Mothers fathers spouses and children.

Customer:

Wow. You know, I am in a community online called "Parents of Estranged Adult Children Everywhere" - the stories of entitlement, rage, rejection, etc. are truly unbelievable. But I guess it is all a sign of the times. The site is: http://www.dailystrength.org/groups/parents-of-estranged-adult-children

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You must be determined to come out on top with your daughter. Victory is having an easy time and parting good company. You might have to take a bit of abusive or snide comments but wear our duck oil or rain coat and it won't bother you a bit.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Hopefully you will work your way into making your membership irrelevant.

Customer:

I am really benefitting from your comments. As you can surmise, I am not a narcissist! Dr. Vaknin calls people like me "inverted narcissists" - although I don't even like the idea of that word being associated with someone like me! I think of myself as Cinderella, and my daughters kind of as (I hate to say it, but I can see them objectively), the 2 stepsisters! Even though I love them, I can see them as they actually are, which many parents can't. I always could. The outcome of my blood, sweat, and tears, hands-on, intensely giving motherhood was kind of a shock to me, but the reality of it has been settling in for some years now...I'm glad I have a devoted 2nd husband of 11 years now, whom I'm very close to, and who agrees with me about the way my daughters are, but sensibly, doesn't get involved in any of the drama himself -

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Like your arrangement of A train.

Customer:

What is "our duck oil or rain coat"? Oh, thank you for the compliment on Take the 'A' Train! I appreciate it! You obviously went to my web site.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Your duck oil (to keep the waters of narcissistic rage off your back).

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

And like your voice too.

Customer:

Is there such a thing as duck oil? Thank you for the compliment on my singing voice. Do you play many of the standards, like Wave, ...A Train, etc.?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

A few. More like older popular music, less jazz, and lots of blues plus I write lots of ballads. I concentrate more on my music but like anything good.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Like show tunes (because of my teacher).

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I made up the duck oil but ducks make their own to be waterproof and float.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You will have to float through this visit.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

And NOT sink.

Customer:

Yes, I like some blues tunes too, like Further On Up the Road, Fine and Mellow, etc. I have original music, too - mostly now just to play on gigs and enjoy the whole process. When they are danceable such as swing or a Latin rhythm, I can perform them on gigs here and there. As for the floating...good advice. I like the idea of "floating" through it and trying not to let anything she may say get to me - yet I have to hope that she doesn't catch on to my concerted effort to have things go well, and wind up questioning me if I seem too breezy. It is a delicate balance. In any case, I must remember the Sphinx: "Don't Expect Too Much." As for offspring - don't you think a narcissistic daughter could be more difficult than a narcissistic son?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

For a mother, a daughter would be harder. A son would be easier to control.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You can breeze through like a cool refreshing breeze.

Customer:

Good that you agree on "son vs. daughter." I always wanted a son, because I thought he'd turn out more like me - and that I could teach him to have humility and graciousness, respect, good manners/gentility, and a healthy self-confidence without an over-inflated ego. But I didn't get one - I got 2 daughters, and it is too late now - I'm in my mid-50's, oh well! Anyway, guess this dialogue, which has been very useful and enlightening for me, and hopefully somewhat for you as well, should get wrapped up soon, right? I will give you a very good rating!...I don't necessarily want to end the dialogue, but I guess at some point we will need to sum things up, so -

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes. I am running on a different time zone. LOL.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I enjoyed talking to you and believe that you will be very successful in your meeting. I wish you continued success in your career and in being the mother of daughters that try your patience. You are the mom and have to come out on top without them even knowing it. So, that is your task and I believe you have studied well and will do great.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I will keep you and your family in my prayers and wish for a triumphant rapprochement with your daughter(s).

Customer:

Yes, my careers have been professional secretary - 32 years, with 25 at one company, an aerospace firm, from which I was laid off; music - free-lance pianist & vocalist, 28 years & counting; and substitute as-needed library messenger clerk, since last October - I shelve and sort books and all sorts of other library materials (using the Dewey Decimal system, & alphabetizing), at various L.A. public libraries, a steady part-time gig that I am very thankful I got because I like the work - keeps brain and body working!...OK - thanks - well, if I wanted to discuss another or a similar issue with you, on this service, how could I arrange to try and get you again, or is that all but impossible?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Easy.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Just ask for Elliott

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

or Elliott, LPCC, NCC

Customer:

OK! Will do. I have our dialogue in a Word document for review - I hope to be both armed with the tools I need but still composed enough to be able to appear natural. Thanks again and have a good night - you've been a good help and I'll rate you very highly! - Nina B.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Thank you so much and God bless.

Customer:

You, too. Good night and take care for now!

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

:)

Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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