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LifestyleSigns of a narcissistic parent, it isn’t always the child’s fault

Signs of a narcissistic parent, it isn’t always the child’s fault

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We have commonly been led to believe and rightly so that we should be grateful and filial to our parents and any digression from this is frowned upon as bad behaviour. It often leads a child to feel pangs of guilt, especially in the context of Asian culture.

It is however important to understand that the fault and the toxic behavior can, in fact, lie with the parent or both parents and it doesn’t always have to be obvious due to evident neglect, alcoholism or addiction.

Narcissistic behaviour and cluster B personalities do in fact have children and families of their own and their behaviour can very often be much worse at home as their feelings of entitlement extend to their offspring in an extremely damaging manner.

Children of narcissistic parents seldom have their own needs met and no it’s not just about parents bragging on social media, it in fact goes much deeper than that.

One obvious sign is that they see their child as a source of validation nothing more.

A narcissist will loudly boast about their child if they do well in school or win a competition or score a high paying job in later years, otherwise they are completely checked out, detached and disinterested in their child. They shame and belittle the child’s need for validation and instead see them as a tool to fulfill those needs themselves.

A narcissistic parent reacts emotionally to everything and takes things very personally but shames and humiliates the child for having any kind of emotion however valid.

If they see the child speaking up for themselves or being critical, they will lash out and become angry and aggressive. This includes sudden bouts of uncontrollable rage. Oddly enough when the shoe is on the other foot, they have nothing but contempt for the child who shows pain or anger however justified.  Most of the time it will be undermined with a statement like “You’re too sensitive, why can’t you forget anything or don’t make such a big deal about everything.”

What does a narcissistic parent anticipate?

Their needs are always put first, no matter what. A narcissistic parent expects their children to make sacrifices so that they can have and do whatever they want, whenever they want.

If they like hiking for example, it will never be given a miss even for something hugely important to the child.

They have no boundaries. If a toxic parent doesn’t feel like it, they simply will not interact with the child but when they need validation they will interrupt the child and ask them to do whatever they want them to do. It is also common for them to be intrusive and make critical comments on a child’s weight, appearance or any other attributes in a destructive and cruel way.

Playing favourites. Divide and conquer is par for the course for a narcissistic parent or parents. Though sometimes one parent is more narcissistic than the other if the couple have stayed together over the years, it is not uncommon for both to have similar traits with one being more malovelent than the other.

Very often there is a golden child in the family (take note this can change should the golden child decide to speak up or defend the scapegoated child or make any kind of firm stand). This child is spoken of highly, making the other children feel uncomfortable and very often psychologically unsafe. What then happens is the child then tends to go along, try to impress or constantly compliment the narcissistic parent in order to avoid their wrath and remain part of the family.

Blame for everything is often shifted to the children. Since these personalities have to feel like they are perfect, they shirk their responsibilities and can be cruel when criticized.

Common refrains include blaming them for anything that goes wrong in their life. For example, “If not for you …. (Fill in the blanks here)…”

People Pleasers

Tragically children of these parents often become people pleasers and doormats and feel guilty for having any needs at all, often denying their own needs or feeling guilty for them for no reason. They then become prey to narcissistic partners and spouses down the road.

They also very often become the caregiver or parentified children. At a young age the child would often end up doing everything in order to ‘please’ the parent whether it’s preparing their favourite meal or getting things done in order to have a ‘family outing’. This extends well into adulthood where the parent will commonly have an “I gave birth to you and now you owe me” attitude which again brings out guilt in the child should they feel unable to help.

This is often compounded by pressure from society as people around will not understand the estrangement or difficulty the child has dealing with the parents even in adulthood wondering why they are not exhibiting enough compassion. However most times children are guilt tripped into it and children who grew up like this generally also have high levels of compassion and empathy which is often taken advantage of not just by parents but by romantic partners as well.

It is important to understand that if you had an upbringing like this, you don’t have to cave in, or force yourself to forgive; talk to a professional and do what you can and what you feel is right. Don’t let society or false notions of filial piety, guilt trip you into doing things that you really can’t. It’s important to look after your physical and mental health which may not have been possible in your formative years as you looked to caregivers of this nature to help and help never came but it’s possible to do so now. Fight that sense of abandonment and pick yourself up, remember to do the best you can.

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