You must have heard of narcissistic people and might have even come across some having narcissistic traits. But have you ever heard of kids being victims of narcissistic parenting? Can you imagine someone having narcissistic parents?
It is difficult to associate narcissism with parenting. Because since time immemorial, we have worshiped our parents as deities and placed them on the upper pedestal of love and respect.
But with the inclusion of myriads of millennial culture into the societal practices and prejudices, parents and their parenting attributes have evolved.
Although parents can be associated as the epitome of love and respect who imbibes values and virtues within us, sometimes, these associations can turn into myths and misconceptions.
In its true sense, narcissism highlights self-obsession and talks about the desperate need for admiration and acknowledgment.
This, in turn, might lead to an egoistic personality coupled with vices like arrogance and jealousy. And this is how narcissistic parents are born.
What is a narcissistic parent?
A narcissistic parent is a parent who is affected by narcissistic personality disorder. They are narcissists and end up being a parent to one or more children. Narcissistic parents are not uncommon. Many people who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder have children. However, narcissism in a parent can have a lot of adverse effects on the children.
They may grow up with mental health issues themselves, making it difficult for them to deal with the world. To know more about narcissism in parents, watch this video.
Signs of a narcissistic parent
It is tough to accept that children could be having selfish parents in the first place. But narcissistic parents exist.
Also, it doesn’t mean that the kids are misfortunate, having been born to narcissistic parents. It is just a trait, and if children can identify the narcissistic mother symptoms or narcissistic father traits, they can better equip themselves to deal with such parents.
Are bogged down thinking, is my mother a narcissist, or if you are wondering, are you a narcissistic parent? Also, if your Google searches are flooded with ‘narcissistic mother test or father test’ or ‘signs of a narcissistic mother or father,’ look no further.
Read along to identify the glaring narcissistic mother traits or traits of a narcissistic parent.
1. Narcissistic parents are predominantly self-obsessed
Narcissistic parents’ symptoms or signs include redeeming themselves as superior to their children.
They have a psychological tendency to consider the success of their offspring as a threat and continue to remain a hindrance to the children’s gradual independence.
Moreover, they become manipulative and neglect their kids. Although it need not be deliberate, narcissistic parents conveniently tend to ignore their children’s well-being and prosperity.
2. They thrust their wishes on their children
Narcissistic parents tend to force their wills and desires upon their children. The decisions and interests of the offspring are often ignored and neglected.
The children might have to take up professions that their parents could not, although the child may have no interest in such a field. This feeling can suffocate the child.
3. They become jealous of their kids
Narcissistic parent traits include jealousy.
It sometimes becomes annoying to observe such parents competing with their kids. Compliments like “You are as smart as me” and “I still look more beautiful than you” symbolize the parents’ narcissistic tones.
They become jealous of their children and do not wholeheartedly support their progress and prosperity for fear of being less successful than their offspring.
4. Narcissistic parents create an illusion in the virtual world
Narcissistic parents create an illusion for the rest of the world; with the growing millennial trends of social media, they present an entirely different perspective in the virtual world.
The lucrative Instagram images, superficial Facebook status, and attractive elements that surfaced on the Internet are often misleading and manipulative.
Being manipulative, they put huge social pressure on their children and play the blame game against them. Sometimes, they feel ashamed of their children and consider themselves a threat to their social well-being.
5. They make the children lose individuality
Unfortunately, they compare the credentials between siblings or other children, which makes the children lose their identity and self-esteem.
Instead of being an empathetic pillar for their children during a crisis, they consider the child a burden and disgraceful to the family.
All of their thought processes and mentality revolve around their social prestige and mental peace, completely ignoring the psychology of the offspring.
10 effects of narcissistic parents on their children
Here is how narcissistic parenting can affect children.
1. Limited expression
Children who live with a narcissistic parent or both narcissistic parents end up having limited expression. Since their life has never been about them or their feelings or wants, they learn to keep them to themselves. For a narcissist, everything is about them.
Therefore, children of narcissistic parents often end up doing things for their parents, limiting their expression of their wants and needs.
2. Low self-worth
Another harmful effect of being raised by a narcissist is low self-worth. Children of narcissistic parents are constantly made to feel not good enough, so much so that they start to believe it in the deepest parts of their being. It considerably affects their self-worth.
Another harmful effect of being raised by a narcissist is anxiety. Anxiety is born from low self-esteem and self-worth. A child brought up by a narcissist can also always be anxious about how their parents will react to something, as narcissists are likely to blow up when things do not go their way.
Such children might always find themselves walking on eggshells around their narcissistic parent(s).
The feelings of not being good enough, feeling belittled all the time, and having a lot of pent-up emotions can trigger depression. This can lead to self-harm and the inability to function properly.
Another effect of being raised by a narcissist is codependency. Children brought up by narcissists end up being wired in a way that they always put others’ needs over theirs, simply because they have been made to believe that their needs do not matter over their narcissistic parents.
6. Have a hard time creating boundaries
Narcissistic parent signs also include the inability of children to create healthy boundaries.
Children brought up by narcissists have a really hard time making boundaries and sticking with them. This is because they have been taught that their needs matter lesser than those of the people around them. They can also not distinguish between a healthy boundary and selfish behavior.
Every time they do something for themselves, they feel like they are being selfish when they are just creating a healthy boundary.
7. Lack of healthy self-image
Children of narcissists often lack healthy self-images. This stems from low self-worth, all of which results from the fact that they are made to believe that their needs do not matter.
Most children who grow up with narcissistic parents have an insecure attachment style. Insecure attachment can be of two types – anxious and avoidant. To know more about these, read this research.
9. Difficulty in relationships
One of the most common effects of being raised by a narcissist is that you find all relationships in your life difficult. This means that you may have difficulty making friends, being with romantic partners, or trusting people in your life.
10. Develop narcissistic traits themselves
Living with narcissistic parents can cause you to develop the same traits yourself.
Another effect of being raised by a narcissist includes developing these traits yourself. When you are unheard and uncared for, for so long, you might end up finally putting your needs first, but in unhealthy ways.
To understand more about the effects of parental narcissism on children, read this research.
How to heal from narcissist parents: 10 ways
Here are ten ways to deal with a narcissistic parent and heal from the abuse to break the cycle.
One of the first steps to healing from a narcissistic parent is recognizing narcissistic behavior. Acknowledgment is the first step to healing.
Look at the signs of a narcissistic parent mentioned above, and see if your parent exhibits any of those behaviors.
2. Educate yourself
Narcissism is not an easy disorder to understand. It is of different types and has various layers to it. Educate yourself if you think your parents are narcissistic and need healing from being brought up by them. Read more about it, watch documentaries, or even speak to a professional if you feel the need.
3. Understand why
Narcissism is usually a result of abuse, being around another narcissist for too long, or other similar issues. Understanding why your parents are the way they are can help you understand the issue at hand better and focus on your healing.
It is very important not to hold on to what has happened but to move on and try to live a better life from here. When you finally realize that you have been raised by a narcissist, understanding how to move past it and break the cycle is one of the most important steps in the healing journey.
8. Confront them
As hard as it may be, talking to your parent and telling them the problem is very important. This ensures acknowledgment of the issue; they might also want to change their behavior and be better.
Being raised by a narcissist has many harmful effects on children. If you are one, you need to understand and acknowledge the effects of being raised by a narcissistic parent to begin healing.
10. Seek professional help
A very important step in the healing journey regarding being raised by a narcissist is to seek professional help. Mental health issues such as low self-esteem, low self-worth, depression, anxiety, and others that are an effect of narcissistic upbringing may require help from a therapist or relationship counseling.
Here are some frequently asked questions about being raised by narcissistic parents.
1. How do you help a friend with a narcissistic parent?
To help a friend who has a narcissistic parent, you must first have an honest conversation with them. Tell them that you see the signs, and if they do not understand or acknowledge them, try to make them see them. You can follow the steps mentioned above when helping a friend heal from a narcissistic parent.
Helping them seek professional help or even offering to go with them if they need support can be wonderful.
2. What kind of children do narcissists raise?
Unfortunately, the effect a narcissistic upbringing can have on children is immense. Children raised by narcissists may develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
They may also have low self-esteem, low-self-worth, difficult expressing themselves, and codependency in relationships. Some children raised by narcissists, if not healed, can also take the cycle forward.
Being brought up by such parents inculcate negative emotions among the children. Children with impressionable minds often tend to imbibe such undesirable characteristics among themselves.
They turn out to be socially insensitive, arrogant, and self-centered in their futures. On the contrary, they might lose self-confidence and self-esteem when they do not receive proper reinforcement and rewards for their achievements.
They lose self-worth, and the zeal to excel gradually fades away.
Many a time, children can become socially and emotionally detached from their parents, leading to the creation of tensions and turmoil between them.
It leads to troubles in family dynamics, and they become rebellious. This hampers the smooth functioning of the societal structure. Again, narcissistic parents are inflexible. The children might be cut off from enjoying the charm of freedom.
The children remain neglected, in the dark, and do not receive a proper upbringing; they are never nurtured to differentiate between values and vices. In extreme cases, it can even lead to narcissistic personality disorder among children.
The question that remains is how to deal with narcissistic parents.
The social condemnation of such traits among parents is highly essential.
Such parents need to identify those undesirable attributes among themselves, and seeking professional help becomes a priority. Counseling and self-introspection become inevitable for such parents.
Identifying the adverse consequences on family dynamics, children’s growth, and social life become essential.
Children of such parents need to be mentally healthy and identify the loopholes in their parents. Seeking help from relatives and friends has become one of the many options. They should try to release the tension between them and their parents.
Children need to filter the attributes of their parents and acquire only those which would benefit their self-growth.
While the generation is heading towards positive parenting, we also witness an ugly side of parenting. Narcissism is a human trait and threat at the same time, and inheriting such attributes as parents can be detrimental in various spheres of family and society.
It is a phenomenon that has been ignored for such a long time, but dealing with it efficiently should be the plan. Your children need better parenting, and their progress should not be affected at the cost of your obsessive and narcissistic attitudes and attributes.
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Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.