Growing up with a narcissistic parent can have a profound and lasting impact on your mental and physical health.
As a child of a narcissistic parent, you will have learnt that you were not worth listening to, being prioritized or being taken care of. These childhood experiences have a lasting damaging effect on your self-esteem and the choices you make for the rest of your life.
Since narcissistic parents often view their children as extensions of themselves, it means that their parenting style can be characterized by emotional abuse, manipulation, and neglect. A child growing up in this type of abuse, learns how to treat themselves the way the parents do, even into adulthood. If you are in doubt whether you have a narcissistic parent, see if you recognize the following:
• Your parent was unable to empathize with you emotionally. Your feelings would be dismissed or minimized, and the focus would be put back on the parent.
• Your parent would often ignore you, use you as the family’s scapegoat or try to control every aspect of your life, from your activities to your friends.
• Your parent may have been either overly involved in your life to the point of enmeshment, or completely absent. This can lead to the child either feeling suffocated, unable to develop their own identity, or completely self-reliant having difficulty in trusting others.
Narcissistic parents often see their children as extensions of themselves and may expect their children to fulfill their own unfulfilled ambitions. In this way they can use their children to boost their own ego by bragging about their accomplishments to others.
This type of parent will use emotional abuse as a means to control you. They may insult, criticize, belittle, or shame their child, making you feel unworthy and inadequate. He or she would lack appropriate boundaries. When you were a child they would overshare non-age appropriate personal information (such as describing a sexual encounter they just had), ask you to keep secrets, lie to others on their behalf and expect you to cater to their emotional needs. All this leaves the child anxious, confused and above all unsafe.
Narcissistic parents also make a habit of manipulating their child's perception of reality by denying events, distorting the truth, or blaming their child for things that are not their fault. The worst aspect of this, is that you start to doubt your own memory and perception of events. This is in essence ‘crazy-making’ and it could take many years of therapy to start to reconnect and trust yourself. If you recognize these experiences, you have also learned early on that 'love hurts', and this core belief can be incredibly damaging in your most important relationships as an adult.
In my personal journey it took me many years of therapy to incorporate the new conviction is that “if it hurts, it isn't love”. If you too have been exposed to this type of childhood and find yourself in painful relationships, I will encourage you to seek support and start the process of loving yourself out of abuse and into the new you, a you who knows that you deserve a loving, honest and caring relationship.
If you would like the support of a qualified psychotherapist, with personal experience in this field to support you in this journey, please feel free to contact me.
Wishing you well