Narcissistic parents

Narcissistic parents are vandals, they rarely say nice things to their children, as they are in constant competition with them.  They regard their children as their property or play things.  So, they allocate roles to their children such as golden child or scapegoat to fulfil their own needs and get aggressive and hostile if any of the children try to shift the dynamic.  However, they make it clear that these roles could be changed if the child does not facilitate their every whim.  This confusion creates insecurity with in the family and makes the children much easier to control – confusion is a key symptom of abuse.  Healthy relationships are clear, you know where you stand (double meanings, denial, reframing, lies and inconstancy are all abusive traits).

Many narcissists use weakness and vulnerability as their key weapons of control.  If they feel any criticism coming on they will look hurt, wounded or will go off in a sulk.  The children in such a family end up thinking that the narcissist is genuinely hurting and that they genuinely need the protection and tolerance of their children to “make it all right”.  Of course, like with everything a narcissist does, this is just a manipulative ploy to get what they want and to shame their children into taking care of them.  This is called parentising.  It means that adult narcissistic parents will actually expect their very small children to take care of their emotional needs.  What this means to the child is that they are given all the responsibility of their parents “well-being”, but absolutely no power, support, protection or guidance.  This makes the child feel inadequate and a failure at the job that has been allocated to them.

An example of this is when a parent will accuse a child of being to blame responsible for a mistake that they made.  They make the child feel guilty by shaming them for something that they had absolutely no control over, such as scratching the paintwork on a car or forgetting to buy something at the supermarket.

Their projection onto the child means that the narcissist can:

  • Abdicate their responsibility
  • Attack and confuse the child (so that they feel more powerful)
  • Lower the confidence and self-esteem of the child so that they will be easier to control in the future
  • Use the blamed child as a model to the other siblings to let them know that they have to “keep in” with their parent, otherwise they will be at risk of being blamed for any mishap
  • Force the child into a constant state of hyper reactive obedience

Because narcissists are so self-absorbed they forget that their children are children and so can frequently use language with their children that is too adult for them to understand.  If they are teasing their children, they will frequently use word play or sarcasm that is far too developmentally advanced for the child to understand.  They will often employ cynicism to the actions of their children as they attribute adult motivation to childish acts, the child might well be punished for simply just being a child.  The narcissist however will see any act of selfishness on behalf of the child (which is all part of the developmental process) as a direct attack on them.  The child therefore is dehumanised and is used as a vessel for their rage and frustration.

Because narcissists are control freaks and they ALWAYS have to be right, they will retreat into a zone of delusion and fantasy to maintain this self-image.  So for example they might say to their children “you are so lucky that we are rearing you with so few rules and that you have so much freedom”,  the implication being that it was some thought out bohemian lifestyle when in fact the accurate description would be neglect and indifference and are given a ridiculously burdensome sense of responsibility for self but also for parents from a very young age,  without any guidelines or instruction, just criticism when the narcissistic parent feels that the child “got it wrong”  according to their mood.  There is no consistency with narcissists.  They use guilt and shame with their children, which is just a destructive and lazy means of control, as it makes the child feel very insecure.

They find it very hard to celebrate the achievements of their off spring and will take credit for something themselves such as an academic or sporting achievement and will say “well of course you got that from me” or say something like “the standard must have been very low if you won”.

Narcissistic parents brainwash their children into giving them what they want and insist that their children always put their needs before the child’s.  A frequent refrain would be “after all the sacrifices that I have made for you”

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