The Narcissistic Parent

The Narcissistic Parent

The narcissistic parent may have what they see as an ideal relationship with their young child when one looks at the narcissist’s ultimate goal in every relationship, that of total power and control.  They write the rule book and the children will comply.  The children are seen as a reflection of how they, themselves, wish to be seen.  It’s each child’s duty to make mum and dad proud and to set a shining example to the outside world of the perfect child from the perfect family. Nothing is further from the truth.

The narcissistic parent will more than likely have an adverse effect on their children.  Their children often grow up without knowing what it feels like to be nurtured and loved in a normal way by a normal parent.  The controlling parent will ignore their child’s personal boundaries, influencing, manipulating and shaping them into being exactly what they want them to be.  However,  it is no easy task to fulfil the narcissistic parent’s expectations. Children look to mum and dad to learn behaviour, attitudes, moral principles, emotional attachment and how to treat others.  The narcissistic parent’s example is not a good one by any means.

As the child grows the controlling parent may feel threatened by their son or daughter’s developing independence.  The narcissist has a desperate desire to be ‘needed’ and hates what they see as their loss of control, sometimes turning against their children as a result.The narcissistic parent

There are some narcissistic parents who have no interest in their children at any age. They see their children as nothing more than a burden and a hindrance.  They will ignore their children’s very existence behind closed doors where only the members of the dysfunctional family will see the reality of family life.

The narcissistic parent is difficult to please.  Regardless of their children’s achievements, nothing is ever quite good enough.  However there are always exceptions to the rule. Some narcissists are known to treat each child in a different manner.  Some have what is known as a ‘golden child,’ who can do no wrong who will be encouraged to do well and be given the best of everything.  The narcissistic parent will celebrate even their most minor achievements whilst their faults and failings are swept under the carpet.  At the opposite end of the spectrum there is the scapegoat child who will get blamed for just about everything that goes wrong within the family.  They can do no right and their achievements, no matter how great, are ignored or dismissed.

Sadly children of narcissists often grow up carrying the burdens that their parents have bestowed on them.  They may have been pushed into the background during their formative years so that mum or dad may take centre stage.  They often display low self-esteem having been constantly blamed and put down by their parent or parents.

Written by Anne McCrea

19 thoughts on “The Narcissistic Parent

  1. Oh, Help! that is me. It’s my controlling dad…..but that’s what I thought Dad’s were like during my childhood…how would I know any different…parents were to be obeyed and punished you if you were bad. I am now 51 yrs old and struggling with life. Looking back I have struggled all my life. I have been married twice and one long term relationship unmarried…and all three ended up being abusive. I had counselling at 21 when they picked up about my relationship with my dad…I knew then they were right but I couldn;t accept it. My dad is now 74 he is still abusive and tries to control me..but he can’t!!!!!!!!! and this is making my dad depressed…you can see it..he is withdrawing from life. you see I stopped arguing with him about 3 yrs ago and he hates it..he has no one to take his anger out on now…my mum is living a hell with putting up with him. we don’t know what to do now…she says she has always given in to him to keep an easy life. I have lived on my relationships now for 8 yrs I can’t see it ever happening again after my last husband was abusive to me for 5 yrs. Should I talk to my doctor? i’m supposed to go for talking therapy but I haven’t made the appointment yet. My doctor does say I have been through a lot. should I ask about PTSD? from the abuse for my ex husband and my father?

    1. Symptoms of PTSD may surface at the time, months or even years later. It is treatable with the correct help and support. PTSD varies from person to person and may severely impact on the sufferer’s ability to lead a normal life. A chat with your doctor may be worthwhile.

    2. Please go to the therapy read everything you can find on cluster B disorders, flying monkeys , ptsd &cptsd. It has really helped me and might help you all the best with your journey.

    3. Absolutely go to therapy. It may take a few to find one you’re really comfortable with but when you do, it will be the best thing you can do for yourself! My narcissistic and abusive mother passed away about 7 years ago but not before I suffered a complete emotional breakdown at the age of 26 due to her behavior. My body finally shut down. Therapy was a huge part in helping me to realize that I had done nothing wrong and to help me build my self-esteem. I definitely encourage you to seek out a therapist; you deserve happiness!!!

  2. Hello..
    I think I was raised with some abuse by my mother because of physical and emotional abuse she experienced as a child. Presently, we have come a loooong way and seem to have made major break through (with years of distance between us). I’ve never considered it to be narcissistic but sometimes I worry about things that come out in my parenting with my own children. I’m not sure neither if I would be considered narcissistic but because I sometimes see my children lack self-confidence, become intensely emotional when there’s an issue at hand and also seem to feel that I blame them or view them negatively in some way, I’ve been trying to narrow it down so I can incorporate more of an effective solution. I’ve always felt guilty but during interaction with them I drop the ball and battle with myself to balance my own emotions and reactions to even the simplest of problems. Can you suggest anything? I know narcs aren’t usually accountable but many of the traits I read about seem to apply. Is there a sure fire way to clearly identify if I’m a narc?

    1. Gosh Yasmine, you have had a rough time and I can relate to so much of what you have said. I have flashbacks of childhood when ‘disciplining’ my own children all the time. But you are NOT a narc parent!! The fact that you are being introspective enough to think your issues relate to yourself is the true indicator of a Non-narc!!! I am not sure what the experts would say (and I would appreciate their thoughts or advice on the concerns you gave raised), but from what you have said you seem to be an amazingly self aware parent, doing the best job that anyone can do. We all have self doubts as parents, but these are the doubts that keep us in check and promote betterment as parents. Keep up your great work as a survivor!

  3. i havent the words. i just kept repeating out loud… Oh my God. my entire LIFE my total existence… its been summed up, here… by someone who has never met me. if, if you only KNEW but its like you must have been there… sitting there quietly observing. but you werent. i have lost both my parents within the last 4 and a half months. and i have been feeling horrid, because im not grieving like i thought i should. i mean i am sad, but more than that, i have an odd feeling of freedom? i dont know if that is even the right word… but, well, just thank you. thank you.

  4. How quickly I could relate this article to my dad is scary. He was, and still is, always trying to control every aspect of my life. I haven’t told anyone before but he is the reason I don’t ever want to have children. Don’t get me wrong, I think raising a family would be a really fun and memorable thing to do but I am scared that eventually I will start to treat my kids/wife like my father treats my mother, siblings, and me. I just don’t want to risk raising kids in the type of household I was raised in where you are made to feel completely worthless each and every single day.

    1. Believe me when I tell you that you will do the exact opposite of them ! Trust me ! For example if they hit you as a s child you will never hit your children ! My mother would take our money always ! I can’t take a fine from my kids and they are grown not lunch or at the store they want to pay I just can’t

  5. I was hospitalized at 16 years old for suicidal ideation… I wanted to die. In outpatient therapy at 17, my psychiatrist told me I was presenting as a person who had been abused, but he questioned both my parents about this and both said it would have been impossible for anyone to have harmed me without their knowledge… The irony is, my abuser was sitting right in front of him and he didn’t have a clue. My mother is narcissistic and my dad knew she was ill but still allowed her full control over me and my brother. I resent them both for this! I spent 20 years thinking I was mentally ill. In and out of hospitals and clinics. I’ve been taught to never talk about my mother in a negative/sick light, that I am the one who’s sick, so even writing this here gives me anxiety, but I have to say it outloud-even if it is into the great online abyss! My mother has controlled, manipulated, and shamed me all of my life. I’m 36 and just today admitted to myself that she is sick and will never recover, and I will never have a normal, independent life as long as I allow her to be in it.

  6. Sunny, I myself am 40 years old and the penny dropped last night at 3am that my mother is a NM, I have tried all my life for validation from her that I was doing well when I never got it I thought I failed epically. I was never going to get it was I? My daughter has cerebral palsy my mother went into therapy as it affected her so badly, when myself and her father split up 7 years ago and for reasons we won’t go in too I left and he stayed in the paternal home with my kids. I have them a few nights a week and we parent together. My mum knew that my daughters epilepsy being uncontrollable at that time was worse with stress and she wanted to stay with dad. It broke me to do it but it was better for all this way. My mum told family I had left my kids she told me I was selfish and she managed to work full time and look after three kids, that she would never have left her children. This negative thoughts and reiterating it to me all my life has quite honestly messed me up!!! I feel I’m an awful parent, I never struggled with my daughters diagnosis I loved her whatever, my mother made me believe I wasn’t normal and that I didn’t care. She drip fed all these thoughts to me over years, not saying it outright but letting me know of her opinion on others this had happened too. All I ever had was ” her mother never had to stress about her she married well and always did the right thing” therefore making me dissect and get to the conclusion she thought those things about me. My daughters epilepsy I will admit I didn’t cope well with it, it scared me I thought she would die often. My mum used to dismiss my fear ” well she had one with me I was fine I coped” she never ever validated my thoughts or feeling I was made to feel my option and feelings didn’t matter as I was abnormal to feel that way! I’m shell shocked but happy it’s not me it’s actually her, if I said that to her she would say” you always hated me you were always jealous of everyone around you, there’s something wrong with you in the head it’s not me” I now know different.

    1. My nm is exactly the same. She details me all the time . I’ve experienced narc rage , abuse , told to reach impossible levels of achievement and was a victim of intense anger when I failed.
      I am able to see her for what she is. My kids are normal , unlike her kids. Once you become aware it helps you be a good parent.
      But I still struggle with the pain from childhood.

  7. My mother was a big time narcissist and they way my brother and I were treated by her made me never want kids. I was pretty sure I’d end up being like her. She’s dead thank the Lord so I might have a few years of peace and work on gaining some self esteem.

  8. I have a Narc mom, a golden child sister, a “puppet” baby sister ,and I am the scapegoat. Only God knows what I’ve been thru. The most hurtful thing is other family members who refuse to believe they do any wrong since the abuse is unseen by others. It’s so sad. I have been married twice, no children, 50 yrs old and alone. No confidence. Broken. No contact began this year and feel better already. It’s the only way for me. Feeling stronger everyday. My dad only had 10 years to deal with this psycho, I’ve wasted 50. No more. Don’t even want to go to her funeral when she dies, because she never loved me. Thanks it’s good to know I’m not alone.

  9. Has anyone had a ex-spouse as a narcissit and turned your children into narcissists? My ex alienated my oldest child from me and I haven’t had a relationship with him in 14 years. My second. Hold was with me until age 18 and went to visit her father and brother and never came back. It’s almost been 5 years. She and I don’t have a relationship now because my ex narc husband brainwashed her and told her all kinds of lies about me. Now she acts just like her father. I’ve tried reaching out to my eldest over and over and he’s treated me so badly as well. I can’t take the abuse from all three and just ready to go no contact with my children because they are so verbally abusive and downright cruel. I’ve never been so hurt by anyone in my life than my own children. I just can’t take it any longer. I’ve been in therapy and wondered what I’ve done wrong but the truth is I haven’t done anything but be here if they needed me. My youngest calls when she wants money than goes back to calling me names and being abusive. I’ve accepted I can’t have a normal relationship with them as long as they are being influenced by the narc feeding them lies. But other than that I’m torn about going total no contact. But I don’t know if my heart can take much more.

  10. Thank you for this article. I’m a 25 year old guy living with my parents who basically control everything i do. I have gained a little independence by sheer “talking back” attitude. But i feel i’m still under their thumb because my relationships and my career are closely observed by them to the point they dont want me to chose a girl or job of my taste. Both of them were respected in their careers and they are exerting that power on me now. Its frustrating because i cant win an argument with them and they keep telling i’m a bad child for arguing with someone who gave me so many things. I really dont know what to do anymore. at a complete loss here…

    1. Been there, done that. When people decide to have children, giving them ‘things’ is part of the deal. You are NOT a bad child. You are a VICTIM! Get out and move on with your life, and live it the way that you choose. Do not feel guilty, either. Trust me, I know.

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