What Are The Types of Narcissistic Parents?
Narcissistic Parents fall into two different categories. Engulfing parents and ignoring parents. Both of these types of Narcissistic Parents are incredibly damaging to their children.
1) Engulfing Parents: are Narcissistic Parents who see no boundaries between themselves and their children. Children are seen as extension of the parent – not as another person. For babies and toddlers, this is okay – small children don’t often see themselves as separate from their parents anyway.
An engulfing parent uses tactics like Parentification, Infantilization, and Triangulation (see glossary above) to keep the child close. This type of narcissistic parent will ignore all boundaries as a child ages, seeing no problem asking overly personal questions, reading the child’s emails and personal stories.
2) Ignoring Parents: are Narcissistic Parents who don’t actually care much about their children. Unlike Engulfing Parents, an Ignoring Parent sees the boundary between themselves and their child, and has no interest in their child.
This can be extremely confusing and bewildering as the child grows to feel unloved, uncared for, hindering future relationships for this child. Often, an Ignoring Parent doesn’t even bother helping a child with physical cleanliness, teaching hygiene, or helping with school work.
Sibling Dynamics In Narcissistic Parent Households:
If there are several children in a Narcissistic Household, the dynamic may be one of the Golden Child versus the Scapegoat, which can cause major friction and rightful jealousy between the children.
The Golden Child, seen as an extension of the Narcissistic Parent, can do no wrong, and even the most minor of achievements are cause for celebration, admiration, and rewards.
The Scapegoat Child is to blame for all of the family woes. While the Golden Child can do no wrong, the Scapegoat Child can do no right. All achievements are dismissed.
Clearly, this imbalance causes problems between the children, and offers the Narcissistic Parent the opportunity to Triangulate, as the Narcissistic Parent acts as a go-between between the children.
Traits of Narcissistic Parents:
While these traits may not match all Narcissistic Parents, what follows are some common traits of Narcissistic Parents:
1) A Narcissistic Parent has difficulty understanding the emotions of empathy and how to create meaningful connections. As the personal needs of Narcissistic Parents dominate, these parents have little room for the needs of anyone else. It makes it almost impossible for these Narcissistic Parents to relate to the feelings and meet the physical and emotional needs of their children.
2) A Narcissistic Parent owns the successes of his or her children. In a Narcissistic Parents mind, he or she has been sacrificing everything for his or her child – the child must retaliate by performing at or above expectations. These childhood achievements are then owned by the Narcissistic Parent as their own, “he’s a great soccer player – it’s my genetics. I was always athletic, too.”
3) Narcissistic Parents must be in control. No matter what. A Narcissistic Parent controls his or her children by dictating how these children should feel, should act, and the decisions to be made. This can lead to adult children of Narcissistic Parents being unsure of what they, themselves, like and want out of life. These Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents never learn to be autonomous and make his or her own decisions.
4) Narcissistic Parents emotionally blackmail their children. A Narcissistic Parent often is indulgent, kind, and sweet if a child is behaving in the way their Narcissistic Parent wants. However, the moment a child is disobedient, a Narcissistic Parent becomes enraged and cruel. This show of “I love you, go away,” creates insecurity and dependency among children of Narcissistic Parents.
How Do Narcissistic Parents Control Their Children?
There are a few ways that a Narcissistic Parent controls his or her young children. These control mechanisms include:
1) Codependent Control: “I need you. I can’t live without you.” This prevents children of Narcissistic Parents from having any autonomy, from living their own lives.
Read more about codependency.
2) Guilt-Driven Control: “I’ve given my life for you. I’ve sacrificed it all.” This method of control creates a feeling of obligation in children; that they “owe” their Narcissistic Parents and must behave in a certain way to make their parents happy.
Read more about guilt.
3) Love Withdrawal Control: “You’re worthy of my love ONLY BECAUSE you behave the way I expect you to.” So long as their children are behaving properly, a Narcissistic Parent will be loving. That love disappears the moment a child doesn’t meet expectations.
4) Goal-Oriented Control: “We have to work together to achieve a goal.” These goals are generally the goals, dreams, and fantasies of a Narcissistic Parent. A Narcissistic Parent lives vicariously through his or her children.
5) Explicit Control: “Obey me or I’ll punish you.” Children of Narcissistic Parents must do as they’re told or risk shame, guilt, anger, or even physical abuse.
6) Emotional Incest Control: “You’re my one true love, The One, the most important person to me.” An opposite-sex parent makes his or her child fulfill the unmet needs of the Narcissistic Parent.