The showing of love is conditioned on how good the children make the parents feel, and this inconsistency or unpredictability tends to create emotional insecurity and co-dependence.
The parent needs the child in order to feel good. And the other way around the child becomes responsible if the parent feels bad.
Children become confused by the vacillation between approval and punishment, and these mixed signals may cause feelings of betrayal because the same person who gives them love and stability is also the one who takes it away.
Very unbalanced narcissist parents will often be engaged in criticizing their children and then justifying these actions by saying that they are just trying to help because they ‘know what is best’.
They tend to make demeaning comments and might use favoritism or comparison between siblings or friends as a form of manipulation. They will constantly exalt one child and list all their good points with the implication that another child is unworthy or does not measure up.
As adults, children raised by such toxic parents may feel like they have to earn love. That love is dependent on something else, like their achievements.
Because of the unstable emotional climate in their childhood, as adults they fear abandonment if they do not perform according to expectations.
In order to ensure that they are needed, they often perceive their primary role to be ‘taking care’ of their spouse, partner, parent, friend, or employer.