Addressing Narcissistic Tendencies in Parents

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If you or your partner have narcissistic tendencies as a parent, but you do not seek therapy for yourself and your child, your child will struggle with a variety of issues related to your behaviors. If you are willing to address issues, though, you will ensure the health of your relationship with your child, your child’s mental and emotional health, as well as your own personal growth.

Here are some ways your child can struggle if issues are not addressed:

1. Your Child Will Struggle With Self-Esteem

This can be a long-term, if not a life-long struggle with self-esteem due to internalizing things that are said to them by a narcissistic parent. Children learn who they are and what they are capable of first and foremost through their parents and fostering a healthy view of themselves certainly starts with what a parent tells them both directly and indirectly. Narcissistic parents tend to say things that are demeaning to children on a regular basis in order to control situations, put others down to build themselves up, etc. and these work against the best interest of the child.

2. Your Child Will Fear Reactions and Confrontations

Your Child Will Fear Reactions and Confrontations 

Maybe, the lesson we can all learn from the inner sadness of a narcissist is to see through our own fabrications, our own illusions so that we can be set free to be real once more.

A narcissistic parent will tend to immediately fall into an intense reaction to any form of criticism. The child will not see their parent modelling how to take criticism well and will not be able to imitate their parent to practice how to take criticism themselves.

They may blame others, make excuses, become withdrawn, or become angry even. They may also be very fearful in their interactions with their parents, hiding things to avoid confrontations because they are so extreme.

3. Golden Child and Scapegoat Problem

Some parents pick a child subconsciously even that seems to be uncapable of doing any wrong in their eyes, while another child is blamed for everything. Sometimes the parent who does this will even switch these assigned roles every so often.

The scapegoat child will feel they can never live up to their parent’s standards and may even give up on trying to please their parent.

4. Your Child May Feel Their Needs and Desires Are Minimized

Your Child May Feel Their Needs and Desires Are Minimized

Children are individuals who have their own needs, desires, and dreams, and these should be met and fostered by their parents in order for the children to keep growing, developing skills necessary for a successful life, and feel loved and cared for. A parent who does not teach a child how to stand up for their needs and instead manipulates them for their own convenience is hurting their child’s ability to relate to others in the future in a healthy way.

5. Your Child May Constantly Deal With Feeling Unnecessary Shame

Chronic shame can be caused by a parent constantly ridiculing, criticizing, and demeaning a child for their actions, words, or even assumed thoughts. Internally, a child may even adopt the voice of this parent in their head and use it against themselves when they perceive they may be making a mistake or doing something wrong. Instead of working through problems and finding solutions, or adjusting behavior, or processing their own behavior fairly, a child will stay stuck in feelings of guilt and shame and not work on anything or be able to move forward.

6. Your Child May Struggle to Set Boundaries

When a child’s own ability to set boundaries hampered, they don’t feel they can set a healthy boundary and have it respected. Teaching children how to create and maintain boundaries is very important to their physical, emotional, and mental safety and health, but a narcissistic parent cannot put their own needs aside in order to teach and then respect those boundaries, even as their child becomes older and older.

7. Your child may be more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior

Your child may be more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior 

If you hold on to hurt and anger with a narcissist, the children will have no normal parent. The narcissistic parent will use them as puppets, lovebomb and abandon them. You are their only hope.

Tracy Malone Author

With a lack of control over their own lives, and feelings of shame, fear, and low self-worth, a child may turn to self-harm, whether it be eating disorders, cutting, attempts at suicide, experiments with drugs or alcohol at a young age, etc. They may seek something they can control, use as an escape, or use to express themselves that the parent cannot control or even know about.

8. Your child may struggle with co-dependency

Co-dependency is often talked about in adult relationships but can originate in the family a child grows up in; if a child is controlled by the parent to the point of being unable to learn healthy and age-appropriate independence, they may not develop the skills, confidence, or knowledge of how to be an independent adult.

9. Your child may doubt their sense of reality or sense of self

If the parent participates in gaslighting, they damage their child’s ability to trust their senses and observations. Gaslighting is attempting to reframe real events and conversations to fit an agenda and claim that things are very different than how they happened, which makes a child unable to trust what is real and what they actually did or said.

10. Your child may suffer from long-term depression and anxiety

All of these issues can contribute to what starts as childhood depression and anxiety and may lead to lifelong struggles with these issues. Your child may benefit from therapy for these issues.

Reference and citation:

  1. The impact of parental narcissistic traits on self-esteem in adulthood
  2. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Relations with distress and functional impairment
  3. Are Parenting Practices Associated with the Development of Narcissism? Findings from a Longitudinal Study of Mexican-origin Youth

1 Comment
  1. Fannie Burn says

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