Narcissistic Parents’ Psychological Effect on Their Children
Narcissistic parents will never understand the breadth of their impact on kids.
Alas, the question presumes a type of normalcy and natural order of the parent-child relationship that betrays the root of narcissism. The truth is, narcissistic parents don’t have children because they want to nurture and guide their offspring through life; they have children so that they have an automatic, built-in relationship in which they have power, one in which the narcissist can write the rules without any checks and balances. Understand this: Control over someone else is the ultimate jackpot every narcissist works so hard to win. The reality of narcissistic parenting couldn’t be sadder: The child of the narcissist realizes early on that he exists to provide a reflection for the parent and to serve the parent – not the other way around
Young children of narcissists learn early in life that everything they do is a reflection on the parent to the point that the child must fit into the personality and behavioral mold intended for them. These children bear tremendous anxiety from a young age as they must continually push aside their own personality in order to please the parent and provide the mirror image the parent so desperately needs. If these children fail to comply with the narcissist’s wishes or try to set their own goals for their life – God, forbid – the children will be overtly punished, frozen out or avoided for a period of time – hours, days or even weeks depending on the perceived transgression in the eyes of the narcissistic parent.
With young children, the narcissistic parent is experienced as unpredictable and confusing. After all, narcissists are awfully difficult to understand for adults, so just imagine how confusing the capricious narcissist is in the eyes of a young child! Because young kids can’t make accurate sense of the narcissist’s interpersonal tricks and stunts, these children internalize intense shame (‘I keep failing my Mom’) which leads to anger that the child turns on himself (‘I’m so stupid,’ ‘Something’s wrong with me’). The overall quality and strength of the bond between the narcissistic parent and young child is poor and weak. Deep down, the child doesn’t feel consistently loved, as the child is taught the metaphoric Narcissistic Parenting Program: You’re only as good as I say you are, and you’ll be loved only if you’re fully compliant with my wishes. Simply put, it’s truly heartbreaking for the child – though the narcissistic parent is sinfully oblivious. (Seth Meters, Psychology Today)