Signs of Narcissistic Parenting

Many adult children of toxic parents have not yet realized that their parent was a pathological narcissist.

You can recognize narcissistic parenting from these signs:

  • The mask. Narcissistic parents act differently at home than they’re out in public. Narcissistic parents take pride in flaunting their social status, physical appearance, material possessions, and accomplishments. But when they no longer have an audience, they stop with the nice act. They either criticize or talk about others behind their back.
  • Narcissistic guilt trip. Narcissistic parents act like they’re doing you a favor by feeding, clothing, and giving you a home. Whenever they want something from you and you say no because you have the right to say no, they’ll remind you of how much they gave up to raise you or how much they have sacrificed for you, saying, for example, “If I didn’t have you my life would be better.” This is a form of emotional abuse, so if your parents do that, then that’s a red flag of narcissistic personality disorder.
  • Conditional love. Parents who are emotionally healthy love their children no matter what. When their children do something wrong they’ll punish them but it’s still obvious to the children that they are loved. Narcissists don’t display love for their children. They don’t have the ability to love their children, so they will only give out conditional love, like when you are succeeding in something or when they can brag about you to their friends. And when a parent like this raises you, it’s easy to see why when you become an adult you turn into a classic people-pleaser. You constantly feel like you have to make everyone happy in order to earn love. The sense of shame is always there inside of you, making you feel like you’re not good enough.
  • No boundaries. Narcissists see their children not as individuals but as extensions of themselves, so they see their children as their property. They don’t see their child as a thinking human being that deserves privacy and respect. So a narcissistic parent will always cross your boundaries, and that includes buzzing into your room without knocking, not respecting your privacy in the bathroom and so forth.
  • Jealousy. When mothers look at their daughters, they see youth, they see beauty and so a normal mother would want to nurture that, and help that flourish and grow. But a narcissistic mother is jealous, and will actively try to destroy her daughter’s self-esteem, even competing with her. Narcissistic mothers, especially, are in competition with their kids the minute the child is born. If someone pays more attention to the child than her, she will resent the child. Narcissistic fathers may become extremely jealous when the children are growing up and start seeking independence. When their son or daughter start romantic relationships, the partner is never good enough for them. The narcissistic father wants to be the alpha-man.
  • Control. Narcissistic parents protect their ego, and if they feel they are losing control or their ego is hurt, they become cruel, blaming and offensive. A healthy parent controls their children for good, but a narcissistic parent will want to decide everything: your career, who you can date and when you can move out. When you start thinking for yourself and stop asking their validation, they start bullying you.
  • Taking credit for your accomplishments. Narcissistic parents usually do this in public but not in private.
  • Lack of empathy. These parents do not have the ability to feel other people’s pain and, even worse, they may even appear to enjoy your pain. It’s weird for a parent to do that and that’s why it’s called a personality disorder.
  • InfantilisationNarcissist parents will do their best to keep their children in a child-like dependent state at all times. They don’t want their children to grow up and gain their independence because that means their children would go off on their own. So, they want to keep their children around for as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to basically train their children to be helpless. There is mental abuse as well because they’ll constantly put their child down while reminding them that they’re helpless. In this state, you will never even try to reach out for help; you’ll always feel like you have to come back to your parents because your self-esteem is low and so shoddy. You feel like the whole world is against you. The truth is that there are people outside who would be happy to help you and who would love you more than your parents could, but narcissistic parents do not want you to know that, because that means you will leave them, and then they lose a source of supply.
  • Never admitting wrongNever expect a narcissist to apologize. They won’t because they don’t feel bad about what they have done. Sometimes they will acknowledge something and then later they’ll tell you that it didn’t happen. If they’re not gaslighting you, they’re probably turning it around to make themselves the victim. They will never admit their wrongs.
  • Projecting bad traits on to you. Your parents could be visibly selfish, inconsiderate, evil, and negative. But for some odd reason, they will throw those things onto you as if you are the one with these traits.
  • Destroying your self-esteemA narcissistic parent can openly call you a fat slob, but some will do it more subtly, like “Oh, are you gonna wear that shirt outside? It’s a little bit small around your waist.” This is underhanded and passive-aggressive but subtle enough to plant small seeds of insecurity in your head. These seeds germinate and push your self-esteem into the ground. As a result, you grow up having no self-love, self-esteem and can’t stop paying attention to that voice in your head that tells you that you’re not worthy or good enough. Another way they will lower your self-esteem is by comparing you to other people. They compare you to other kids, making it seem like they got the short end of the stick by having you: “Why couldn’t I have a child that acts like that or acts like this?”. Even if you did the best that you could, it will never be good enough for them because they’ll always find a person to compare you to. They just have to make you feel bad about yourself because, don’t forget, they have a wound within themselves. They have shame within themselves and so to quiet that, they try to throw that shame on you.
  • Causing dramaThese parents enjoy drama because they feed off emotional responses. For example, if you have siblings, nine times out of ten, your narcissistic parent will try to make you two not like each other, especially because narcissistic parents tend to have a favorite called “The golden child,” so they often then need “The black sheep.” Narcissistic parents make the black sheep feel like trash, like this person does not matter and is inadequate. They will then put the golden child on a pedestal. But remember they don’t really love the golden child; they just love the image that the golden child represents. They’ll try to put siblings against each other and since they live for drama, they thrive in situations with potential for high explosive emotional reactions. They’ll sit you down and actually talk about your problems and make it seem like they’re trying to get in your head to help you, but really they’re trying to get an emotional response out of you and make you upset. You will probably leave in tears a conversation that started with just a question. Often they need to call family meetings because they are running low on drama and are searching for an emotional response.

Excerpts from “Narcissistic Parents. The Complete Guide for Adult Children, Including 2 Manuscripts: Narcissistic Mothers & Narcissistic Fathers. How to Handle a Narcissistic Parent and Recover from CPTSD” 

Copyright@2019 Caroline Foster All Right Reserved