Happy Children of Drunk Narcissists Day!
Posted on July 17th, 2011
Yes, indeed! Today is the third Sunday of July, and thus the first annual Children of Drunk Narcissists Day! It’s completely made up, of course (by me) as an antidote to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but hopefully one of the greeting card companies will see the error of their ways and start supporting this one, too. (Not really. The world doesn’t need another excuse to plunk down $2-5 on a card. Ecards would be perfect.)
What can you do to celebrate CoDN Day? Here are some of my suggestions:
- Share some of the most crazy, awful things your parents did or said – without embarrassment. Because it isn’t your fault you ended up with them for parents, and it isn’t your fault they acted the way they did.
- Hug your kids and reassure yourself. I already know you have a mantra in your head that goes something like, “I just don’t want to be as bad as my mother/father was.” Why do you think it took me so long to have a child? I was terrified I’d turn into my parents. Finally someone plunked me down and told me the secret: I’m not. You’re not. You’re trying, consciously, to be a good parent. Yes, you screw up. I screw up. But we’re trying, and that’s what matters.
- Do something nice for yourself. Just for yourself; even if it’s a bath or a piece of chocolate or a walk alone. It won’t turn you into your mom or dad. Honest.
If you’re worried that – oh, no! – you could be part of the next generation of drunk narcissists, here are some things to avoid:
- Saying to your kids (or anyone else), “How could you do this to me?” Kids act from lots of different motivations. They certainly aren’t doing it specifically to you (not normally). This was said by both of my parents on so many occasions that I can’t remember what any of the circumstances were. All I remember was that it instilled a deep shame in me and I never knew why.
- Forgetting you’re a parent, not a friend. Your job is to set limits and healthy boundaries, not break them.
- Getting falling-down drunk in front of your kids. A little bit of booze is fine. But slurring your words and falling down and puking on the stairs? Never cool, not even when your kids are adults and not even when your kids pretend it’s OK.
Here’s one of my stories. When I’d finally gotten over enough of the shame of my first pregnancy, a couple of months later, to tell my family about what had happened, I told one parent over a lunch out in a restaurant. My parent was so completely unengaged with me at lunch that I blurted the story out in an effort to force engagement. What happened? My parent looked me in the eye and said, “Oh, my friend’s son died last week.” If I was looking for sympathy, clearly I was in the wrong place.
So, then! Happy Children of Drunk Narcissists Day!