It’s not surprising that many kids who grow up in these types of unhealthy environments develop feelings of guilt and low self-esteem that they later carry into adulthood. Kids raised by narcissistic parents are less likely to develop a realistic self-image.
It is brutal to grow up this way.
As children of narcissists become adults, they have to learn there’s a difference between real love and narcissistic “love.” And that includes coming to terms with the fact that what they’ve experienced is actually emotional abuse and constant gaslighting.
After that, it’s an uphill battle for children to accept that their parent’s narcissistic actions aren’t their fault or responsibility, as is true with any form of child abuse. If the relationship with their narcissistic parent is to continue, adult children of narcissists need to establish clear, firm boundaries — and stick to them.
Many adult children find that the most healthy option for them is to sever the relationship altogether. The cycle of abuse and control doesn’t end because you’ve left the nest. Narcissists can’t turn themselves off.