What is the impact of having a narcissistic parent?
Do you struggle with low self-esteem and persistent anxiety? Do you repeatedly feeling trapped in toxic relationships? Are you a perfectionist or an overachiever? Do you tend to isolate yourself from social relationships due to trust issue. If your answers to some of these questions are yes, you may be experiencing impact of having one or two narcissistic parents. What are some of the traits of a parent with narcissistic personality?
A parent with narcissistic personality usually lacks empathy towards others. Empathy is the ability to understand the perspective, thinking and feeling of others. He or she is unable or unwilling to empathise with one’s children. Another feature of a narcissistic parent is one’s sense of entitlement. He or she feels that one entitles to special treatment and expects the children to completely compliant to him or her. If a narcissist cannot get what one entitles to, he or she will show hostility towards others. Such parent may frequently scold his or her children with rage or even physically abuse them, when his or her sense of entitlement being threatened.
A narcissistic parent may also treat their children with contempt and put them down repeatedly. He or she may infantilise one’s children and not letting them to grow up. The parent may also discount the children’s abilities and invalid their feelings frequently. Sometimes, a narcissistic parent also has sense of grandiosity and wants to have complete control on their children. He or she may also need to be the center of attention all the time. If he or she feels one’s children take attention on him or her off, he or she may compete with the children.
For children of a narcissistic parent, it is common for them to develop an inner critic and put oneself down. This inner critic is the internalised voices of ones’ narcissistic parent. Besides being overly self-critical, these children also are overly sensitive to criticism and rejection. They are also suffering from chronic shame and anxiety. They tend to see that they do not deserve others’ attention or care. Commonly, they seldom ask others for help or assistance and frequently worry about being the burden of others.
As their narcissistic parent frequently put them down, these children tend to have poor self-image. It is common for these children to suffer from depression, eating disorders, addiction or post-traumatic stress disorder. These children may have difficulty to set healthy boundaries with others and have toxic relationships with someone similar to their narcissistic parent. Sometimes, children of narcissistic parent may also isolate themselves socially due to mistrust to others. They sometimes become target of bullies and cannot stand up for oneself when ones’ rights being violated. Due to their low self-esteem and chronic inner critic, children of narcissistic parent may also become a perfectionist and a high achiever.
The impact for those who have narcissistic parents may vary. Basically, children of narcissistic parents need to be educated about narcissism. They need to be taught to differentiate between safe and unsafe relationships. In psychotherapy, these children are taught to set healthy boundaries with others and prevent having relationships with someone who have similar narcissistic traits and exploit them. They also need to learn about self-care and emotional awareness, as well as mood regulation. It is of paramount importance for these children to understand that they are worthy as a person and they deserve being loved and appreciated.
If you come across someone with the above issues, it may be beneficial for him or her to undergo a course of psychotherapy with a clinical psychologist.