How narcissistic parenting affects their children

  • The child will not feel like they are seen or heard because they will only be permitted to do what the parent(s) want to do.They never take the child’s wants or preferences into consideration.  This can be anything from taking a family of under tens on a wine tasting “family holiday” or expecting the child to sit quietly in their parent’s office for a whole day without anything to do or following a parent around a golf course for hours on end.  The narcissistic parent will not think of finding alternatives for their child because they simply do not think of their child.
  • The child’s feelings will never be acknowledged, that child will learn from an early age that their feelings do not matter and will be ridiculed, met with anger or punished in a cold blooded way so, they will learn to hide their feelings from their parent, either by physically hiding or stifling tears.
  • The child will never be able to please or impress their parent no matter what they do, which creates self-doubt because nothing the child does will ever be enough. The parent is more interested in how the child makes them look rather than what the child feels or wants.  This makes the child feel invalid, a burden and empty inside, in reality the narcissist is projecting their own sense of emptiness on to the child.  They don’t want to boost the confidence of their child because confident, happy children are much harder to control than self-doubting fearful ones.  The narcissist always has to “win” and they do not want their child to do “better than” them.
  • If the child goes to their narcissistic parent for support the parent will emotionally push them away and will possibly give them a “thing”, “object” rather than listen to their child’s needs. They will also physically push them away to literally keep them at arms- length. What the child needs is to be seen and heard by their parent but their parent will categorically refuse to acknowledge the feelings or their child.
  • Children are hardwired to “love” their primary care givers, especially when they are very young and will try very hard to please them. However, they will see that their friend’s parents love them, dogs show more affection and concern for their puppies, total strangers will show take care of them if they see potential danger where their parents won’t, so they take it personally and begin to think that it is their fault and that they are fundamentally unlovable.
  • If the child tries to show any form of independence, the parent will immediately crush their child by sneering, ridicule, rage or just ignoring them/talking over them. This is done to kill any concept of “self” in the child and to remind the child that there is only one way of thinking or doing and that is the parent’s way, the parent’s way is a movable feast and can change within the space of a day or even an hour.  This creates confusion for the child because there is no stability or connection to their parent(s).
  • Because the child’s opinions, observations and feelings are never acknowledged they will not learn to identify or trust their gut feelings or intuition and will constantly second guess themselves and look for validation from others. This is a very dangerous situation to create because it leaves the child wide open to abuse.
  • The child will be taught that how they make their parent’s look is much more important than how they feel. They will also be taught not to look “better than” their parents and if the parents feel threatened by a child they will set them up to fail saying “I just want what is best for you” or “I know best you are just a child”.
  • The child will become hyper vigilant to the moods and expectations of their parents and will act accordingly putting any genuine feelings or emotions aside to accommodate their parents.
  • Parents will constantly compete with their children, especially their same sex child. A mother can be jealous of her daughter merely because the daughter is younger and more attractive than she is.  Compliments to her daughter will be seen as a threat as it should have been for the mother, the daughter “stole” it from her and this will breed contempt, which in turn causes feelings of shame and confusion in the daughter.
  • Narcissistic parents will interfere in all of their children’s relationships from family of origin, extended family, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives and basically everyone. They know no boundaries what so ever and will frequently try to insert themselves into the middle of their children’s relationships so that they can control the narrative.
  • The children will be expected to keep up the family image through secrets and lies and the family will be referred to as “we” a closed unit rather be encouraged to develop their own sense of self. They will be told “we like/dislike …”, if the child disagrees (and the “we like” can be something as mundane as bananas) they are simply told “yes you do!”.
  • The child will see by example of the narcissistic parent to take advantage of and manipulate others.
  • They will see that cheating, lying and stealing from others to get what you want “is how the world works” and will learn that these are acceptable core values. They will applaud sneaky behaviour in their children (at least the golden child) by saying “s/he will go far in the world” and patting them on the back.
  • The child will learn not to trust others because they cannot trust their parent(s), the thing is that if a child has two narcissistic parents they will only select one as being untrustworthy because having two narcissistic parents would make that child feel extremely unsafe and insecure and they need to believe that they have one safe place to go (even if all the evidence tells them that they don’t).
  • The child will learn to take on far too much responsibility from a very young age, they are parentified in that they are expected to take care of the parent rather than the other way around.
  • Because the child is not permitted to have a “normal” childhood their emotional development will be stunted unless they can find a support outside their family of origin. This could be a teacher, neighbour or a member of their extended family, if they do not find someone outside their family they will feel invalidated and empty inside.
  • Narcissistic parents are extremely critical and judgmental.However, they are highly sensitive to criticism themselves and any criticism will be met with rage or punishment.
  • Children are hardwired to attach to their primary care givers, all animals are, so when they see other people or animals have loving relationships with their parents and their parents don’t love them, they turn it in on themselves and form the belief that they are unlovable.
  • The child will become very passive in the family context because they are made to believe that if they don’t to exactly as they are told they will be severely punished. They are not allowed to say “no” to parental directives (which makes them very obedient and vulnerable to strangers/predators) and this in turn makes them very passive because they feel like they don’t have a voice.  They feel threatened when they express themselves and this is not only expressing needs/wants or opinions it can also stifle their desire to sing/dance or laugh out loud for fear of the repercussions.
  • The narcissistic parent will have ridiculous notions of their potential for fame and success and will frequently blame the children for preventing them from realizing their fantasies “if you hadn’t been born I could have been” (!).
  • For a child to survive in this highly toxic family they have to believe in the rhetoric or at least pretend to.
  • The child will have a seriously distorted view of what love is and this can (and probably will) set them up for very unhealthy relationships in adulthood. This family model will teach them to perceive other people’s dysfunctional ways as normal and will not have learnt appropriate boundaries for other relationships.
  • They will learn that they have to earn “love” and that just being them is not good enough. Since they will not have a strong sense of self it is very common for them to fall into other abusive relationships because they don’t know what they want, will not have learnt self-care and will be at risk of taking care of others and neglect their own needs.
  • The child will be taught that enjoying their own achievements (however small) is selfish and self-indulgent.
  • The child will need to do a lot of emotional work to heal from this extremely toxic “home” environment, right into adulthood.They will literally have to reboot their hard drive to get through all of the lies and manipulation they have been subjected too and re-parent themselves.  They will also have to learn that unless they are talking to someone who understands narcissistic abuse they will be thought to be self-pitying and told to “just get over it”.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *