It’s Narcissist Friday!

Children of narcissistic parents usually cannot remember a time when things were different. All they know is that they have wanted to get away for a long time.

Manipulative, controlling, overbearing, uncaring, competitive: these are all words used to describe narcissistic parents.

Remember how a narcissist sees others. I have said over the years that the narcissist sees people as “tools, toys, or obstacles.” In other words, narcissists see others as things to use or to destroy. If they can’t use a person, that person must be pushed into nothingness.

Now, imagine how a narcissist sees his or her own children. Tools, toys, or obstacles. The narcissist categorizes offspring. There is no love, no compassion, no empathy. Either the child serves the narcissist in some way, or the child is abandoned.

So, in narcissistic homes, we find children who are coddled and doted upon alongside children who are ignored. We find children who grow up to be narcissists and children who grow up to be victims of more narcissists. And sometimes the damage is so deep that the same child suffers on both sides.

Some people will say that the children of narcissists grow up to be narcissists. That simply is not true. Since the abuse differs for each child, the response to that abuse also differs. Even more, children in the same family respond differently to the same circumstances. Some may learn narcissistic behaviors from parents without becoming narcissists, just as normal kids learn behaviors from normal parents. Others will decide quite early, usually as a response to the abuse, to shield themselves with narcissistic personality.

It is normal for narcissistic parents to have favorites. One child is rejected while another is chosen. To be rejected is to be neglected, abandoned, or even attacked. Because this began so far in the past, the victim has no cause to which he/she can point. Feelings of inferiority and unworthiness are normal. Even choosing partners who continue the narcissistic abuse is normal.

Perhaps the child of narcissistic parents has a better opportunity to leave the relationship than a spouse, but the damage is deeper. The normal childhood others talk about, the loving parents others enjoy, the close family ties others remember—these things are not part of their background. Everything from family trips to personal privacy has been tainted by the narcissism.

It is one thing to leave mom and dad, but quite another to leave the influence they had since birth. The pain of narcissistic abuse, even when there has been no physical abuse, can be traumatic and lingering. Children of narcissists often wonder why they were picked on or hated, but they find no answers. Narcissistic rejection may seem arbitrary.

Because narcissistic abuse seems so normal to the children of narcissists, they often find spouses or intimate others who are narcissists. The criticism, rejection, arbitrary emotional responses, and lack of love seem normal. Without parents who love each other, children often don’t expect to find the love others talk about. Without parental affection as children, some don’t expect spousal affection. Some suffered a series of narcissistic relationships before they began to realize that their experience is neither normal nor right.

A counselor who understands narcissistic abuse can help work through self-esteem and behavioral issues. As always, be careful. Few church counselors or pastors understand narcissism, especially the depths of emotional scarring children of narcissists have. Reading about narcissism, talking with others who have struggled in the same way, and joining a support group—these can also help.

And, of course, adults can still have their narcissistic parents. The manipulation, rejection, favoritism, and other abuse doesn’t go away once the child becomes an adult. The twisted ideas of family and love affect grandchildren as well.

One of the most successful and practical methods of dealing with parental narcissism is understanding and maintaining boundaries. It may not be possible to establish no-contact with a parent. It may also not be desirable. But firm boundaries regarding visits, phone conversations, etc. can give power back to the child of a narcissist. But, again, prepare for battle. Those who can’t be used must be destroyed—at least that’s how most narcissists think.

It is right to stand up to the abuse of a narcissist, even if that person is a parent. But you will pay a price. Gather your support and be careful. Vindictive narcissists can be ruthless. Still, getting separate from their control is right.

We will pray for you. Seriously.


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6 responses to “Parents

  1. Batya Ahul

    😭This was hard to read but so helpful-to have seen hatred in my my own mothers eyes towards me ( and abusive actions to match that hatred), and the love and care showered on my golden child brother (who was also abusive towards me), as a child this was so confusing.

    I genuinely thought I was cursed and somehow deserve the treatment I was getting. I have always yearned for the unconditional love of a parent-but I don’t & have never had it. Jesus is the only real parent I have ever had. And that’s amazing.
    God removed me and took me to the other side of the planet at 19 years old & kept me here. He is good always. He also took me out of narcissistic relationships and gave me a loving kind husband, for whom I am so grateful for.
    I truly believed I was going to be a terrible mother, but has been easiest most wonderful thing I have ever done. I guess I had low expectations. Motherhood also made me go to Christian counselling so I could face my childhood and realise I am not my mother or my father who stood by and let it happen.

    In times of stress or trouble I would love for my mind to go to the Safehaven of my mothers loving arms that does not exist. Instead my mind relives the anxious fearful childhood terror that I clung to as a little girl. I know this is an ineffective coping strategy but it has been my friend for so long.

  2. Tammy Cook

    Thank You, so often the focus of narcissism is in marriage relationships and not enough talk of the children of narcissist.

  3. Spot on. Thanks for putting it into words without the emotional devastation I have trouble leaving out.

  4. Z

    This was my experience as a child and into adulthood. I was also physically brutally abused by both narcissistic parents regularly. My siblings except for the “golden Child” were also abused the same way I was. But over time, differences in survival methods emerged among us siblings. I realize now that I was not “of use” to the parents’ narcissistic needs and wasn’t sufficient “supply” for their vampire-like need for attention, flattery, idol-worship, catering to their every whim…like my siblings were. They chose to engage in those behaviors right into adulthood to present day. Totally enmeshed with their abusers. I distanced myself, detached emotionally from parents knowing full well I wasn’t loved or valued. And I became their target since my childhood for my resistance to their narcissistic demands. I saw them for what they were and I rejected it. That enraged them and parents and siblings have targeted me ever since. They even targeted my husband. I tried boundaries and consequences for years. They made their targeting and abuses WORSE. That’s typical for character disordered people. They escalate abuse when someone tries to curtail it or reject it. They are so fragile inside and have such low self-esteem they cannot take any hint of rejection without severe retaliation. Their low self-esteem drives their constant need for “supply”-surrounding themselves with people who feed them what they want and need to feel (falsely) good about themselves and cover up their feelings of inferiority. And those allies get rewarded handsomely for their cooperation. Lots of bribes, gifts, flattery, money…So those allies keep up their enmeshment with the narcissists. It pays well for them! And they know they won’t get targeted like the one who resists and rejects what the narcissists require. God forbid anyone doesn’t play by the narcissists’ scripts. I know what happens. I became a target of all my family for all my life. It took a strong sense of self, a strong backbone, a strong sense of right and wrong and “abnormality”…to withstand the army of attackers who targeted me for the abusers.
    It took a very violent weapon attack on myself and my husband, preplanned by my family members as a retaliation for an imposed period of No Contact due to their abusive behaviors continuing. Very serious injuries to my husband. We called the police. And that was when permanent No Contact was a necessity. And DAVE, you are right. There is a high price to pay for the victim who goes No Contact. The army of attackers, allies of the attackers, participants in the smear campaign, lies and character assassination grew to include extended family. I committed the unforgivable act of “calling the police on ‘family’”. AS IF this was a “family” who planned an ambush violent criminal weapon attack on other family members to “teach me a lesson and put me in my place” for my enforcing my safety boundaries with them prior to the retaliatory attack.
    While it’s very hard to now have NO FAMILY and really no church or other friends who are willing to take a stand against abuse within a family (even police hate getting DV and abuse calls and it’s their job to get involved!), I’ve come to realize I never had a “family” nor did I have “extended family” or real, true “friends” all along. I thought they cared. I thought they saw me for the upstanding person of integrity, kindness, tolerance, loyalty, compassion, generosity…that I’d shown them all whenever they needed me. But no. When it came time for all those people to take a stand for what they knew was right, they scattered. Nowhere to be found. I was worthless to all of them to. The “perks” of staying in the good graces of known abusers (ALL the relatives and friends KNEW all my life about the child abuse and adult abuses) were more important than doing the right thing. All these people, including my lifelong abuser parents, call themselves “Christians”! It’s not possible to be a “Christian Abuser”!!! Not do I think it’s possible to be a “Christian Abuse Enabler or Apologist”.
    So, I feel well rid of counterfeits who will one day stand before the Lord and give an account of EVERY deed done (or not done) whole they were on earth. While they were professing to represent Christ (falsely). I remember Jesus’ Words that anyone who causes harm to come to a child would be BETTER OFF to have a millstone put around his/her neck and then drowned in the depths of the sea. Jesus said their punishment will be WORSE than that!!
    So I’ll do my suffering now for doing what was right and separating myself from hypocrites, habitual unrepentant sinners, mockers of God’s power, counterfeits and wolves in sheep’s clothing hiding in church pews. I wouldn’t want to be them on Judgment Day.
    When the Psalmist in Psalm 73 almost lost his faith when he saw the seeming “prospering of the wicked” and the wicked getting away with their evil all around him, it nearly derailed him.
    But Psalm 73:17 he says: “Then I understood THEIR final destiny.”
    And in Psalm 73:24 he says: “..And afterward You will take ME into GLORY”.
    Thank You Lord for my hope of GLORY with You.

    • Elly

      This is my life now and I need to escape. Can you help Me?

      • Z

        Hi Elly,
        I will help you in any way I can. Can you tell me more about what stage or status you are in with your abuser(s) and your contact with him/her/them?
        Are you in my situation with No Contact with ALL counterfeit “Christian” family and extended family and friends?
        What do you need to escape from? Are you still in contact with your abuser(s) and enablers and want to go No Contact with them?
        Let me know how I can better answer your question and what help you need. I’m here for you. 🙏🏽♥️

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