What does this mean for their relationships?
Since narcissists can’t develop the ability to empathize with others, they can never learn to love.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t change when narcissists have children. The narcissist parent sees their child merely as a possession who can be used to further their own self-interests. They often have issues with boundaries, both physically and emotionally, and unload a lot of emotional baggage onto their kids. This makes children the narcissistic parent’s primary source of comfort — and sometimes their punching bag.
Narcissists also view the world in a binary manner: Things are either viewed as special/ideal/perfect or worthless/harmful/garbage. There is no in-between, and they treat their children according to those extremes.
This leaves their children wanting desperately to please them (to be on the “love” side of the spectrum, rather than the darker, more hateful side) and they’ll even let their narcissistic parent control their lives, just to keep things running smoothly. Likewise, as long as kids cater to the narcissist’s needs and make them feel good about themselves, they’re more likely to respond positively, making the child’s home life more harmonious.