Growing Up with a Narcissistic Parent: Signs and Effects
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone misunderstood you or felt you came short of their expectations? Maybe you’ve even encountered someone who tried to take credit for your achievements or saw your successes as a threat to their own value. These experiences can be frustrating, but they can be even worse when the person in question is a parent.
Children raised by narcissistic parents may not even be aware of the fact that their parents are narcissistic. In this article, we’ll explore what narcissism means, how to identify narcissistic behaviors in parents, and some of the ways growing up with a narcissistic parent can impact children.
What Is Narcissism?
While many people use the word “narcissist” to describe someone who’s self-centered or vain, the term has a more specific meaning in psychology. According to experts, narcissism involves a high sense of self-importance, a deep need for self-admiration, and a complete lack of empathy for others.
This can manifest in a number of different behaviors, including seeking attention and admiration from others, taking credit for others’ accomplishments, and having difficulty handling criticism or setbacks.
Signs of Narcissism in Parents
Children raised by narcissistic parents may not be aware that their parents’ behavior is abnormal. After all, they may appear loving and concerned on the surface, and may even manipulate their children into believing that their actions are a display of love or parental authority.
But there are ways to identify narcissistic behaviors in parents. Here are a few signs to look out for:
1. They’re Always Right
Narcissistic parents often have a delicate self-esteem, so they can be quick to feel criticized or attacked. As a result, they may believe that everything they say or do is the best, and that their children are always wrong. This can lead to domestic violence and abuse, and can leave children feeling invalidated or worthless.
2. They Don’t Have Time for Their Children
Narcissistic parents may seem to be too busy or too tired to spend time with their children. They may avoid conversations or activities that involve listening to what their children have to say. This can leave children feeling unheard and ignored.
3. They See Their Children’s Achievements as Threats
Narcissistic parents may feel threatened by their children’s accomplishments, as they may see them as competitors for attention or esteem. They may take credit for their children’s successes or belittle them out of jealousy.
Effects of Growing Up with a Narcissistic Parent
Being raised by a narcissistic parent can have a number of negative effects on children. Here are just a few:
1. Low Self-Esteem
Children of narcissistic parents may struggle with self-esteem, as their achievements and feelings may be constantly invalidated. They may feel as though they can’t measure up to their peers or that they’re not worthy of love and attention.
Narcissistic parents may take away their children’s rights as part of the family, leaving them feeling invalidated or ignored. This can be especially damaging for children who need validation and support from their parents.
3. Difficulty Trusting Others
Narcissistic parents often use emotional blackmail to get what they want, which can lead children to have difficulty trusting others. They may struggle to accept genuine offers of help or support from others because of their belief that everyone has an ulterior motive.
Because narcissistic parents often believe that they’re always right and superior to their children, their children may become perfectionists. They may believe that they can never measure up to their parents’ expectations, so they strive for perfection in everything they do.
How to Maintain a Relationship with a Narcissistic Parent
Despite the challenges of growing up with a narcissistic parent, you may still want to maintain a relationship with them. Here are some tips for doing so:
1. Focus on What You Want
Instead of worrying about what will happen, try to focus on what you want to happen. This will help you make plans and set boundaries that are healthy for you.
2. Remember That You Can’t Change Them
Narcissistic parents suffer from psychological problems that can be difficult to address. Remember that you can’t change them, but you can change your own behavior and reactions.
3. Seek Counseling
Counseling can help you navigate your relationship with a narcissistic parent. This can help you develop coping strategies, set boundaries, and work through your emotions.
Deciding whether to maintain a relationship with a narcissistic parent can be a difficult decision. Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the benefits and drawbacks and decide what’s best for your mental health and well-being.