Narcissistic Parents have many subtle – and some not-so-subtle- ways in which they abuse their children. These types of abuse include the following:
- Compulsively lying to children
- Ignores and/or overwhelms the children
- Neglects needs of the child
- Makes child feel as though he/she does not matter
- Puts parental needs far above those of the children
- Mold children to an “ideal” image
- Promotes and fosters a dependent relationship between parent and child
- Distorts the concept of “love”
- Manipulation for pleasure
- Says one thing one day, something else the next
- Uses the child’s vulnerabilities to exploit the child
- Subtly and not-subtly insults children
- Ignores personal boundaries
- Treats others as objects, not people
- Makes child feel as though he or she is insane
What Happens To The Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents?
Growing up with all emotional needs unmet, becoming a “mini-adult,” being the product of so much emotional abuse takes a tremendous toll on a child of a Narcissistic Parent. If the Narcissistic Parent does not stop the abuse or the child does not receive adequate help, one of two scenarios happens to adult children of Narcissistic Parents.
1) The child grows to have narcissistic traits, and becomes a Narcissistic Parent to his/her own children. This perpetuates the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse.
2) The child becomes a “covert” or “inverted” narcissist who remains codependent and may actually seek out abusive relationships with other narcissists.
I’m The Adult Child of A Narcissistic Parent…What Now?
Healing from such a traumatic childhood is absolutely a daunting task. Having your own emotional needs unmet for so long may make the notion of recovery seemingly impossible. It’s not. Here are some guidelines for recovery for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents:
- Begin working through the grieving process – allow yourself to grieve the parent you never had.
Read more about grief and grieving.
- Acknowledge that you’ve never learned how to properly deal with feelings, and begin to start working through these feelings.
- Work toward loving that little child inside you in the ways your Narcissistic Parent never did.
- Stop hoping that your Narcissistic Parent will change – he or she will not change.
- Remind yourself every day that you need to take care of yourself – those needs for self-care are incredibly important.
- Remember – you matter too. A lot.
- You do not need to harm yourself or hate yourself. You’re a great person, worthy of love and devotion.
Read more about self-injury.
Read more about self-loathing.
- Stop being afraid of your Narcissistic Parent – you are an adult, you survived hell, and you need to reclaim your life as your own. Start by erasing that fear.
- Get rid of that feeling of not fitting in or belonging. It was put there by your Narcissistic Parent and it’s got to go.
- We are none of us alone – that means you, too!
- Find and connect with other Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
- Find a therapist who specializes in treating Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.
- You’re probably still afraid of “getting into trouble” thanks to the way your Narcissistic Parent treated you. You’re an adult now, and you don’t answer to anyone but yourself.
- Release some of that anger. Smash some plates. Scream. Hit a pillow. Anything to let the anger of being an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parent out.
- Learn to be autonomous – start by making small decisions for yourself, and learn that you – yes YOU – are in charge of your own life.
- You are more than worthy. No matter what your Narcissistic Parent told you, you are more than worthy.
- Guilt. Ah, guilt. The best friend and worst enemy of an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parents. This may be the hardest of all the feelings to fight against, but you must. When that guilt is gnawing away at you, tell it to piss off.
Read more about guilt.
- You do not need to feel guilty if you decide not to stay in touch with your Narcissistic Parent – it may be for your own good.
- Remember that your needs are important. Don’t be afraid to make them know and ask for what you need.