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.
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