Narcissistic Parents and The Damage They Cause

The first thing you discover when you begin learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), is that you should run for the hills the first chance that you get. The second thing you learn when you removing a person with NPD from your life, is that you must not contact them. Going no contact makes the transition easier on yourself, however, it is not always that simple for a child.

If you are parenting with a narcissist, it is likely that your child is not aware that their parent is emotionally or mentally unhealthy. They do not know that their mom or dad has narcissistic personality traits or is emotionally abusive; they only know their personal experience.

Oftentimes, narcissists will exhibit certain behaviors to gain control of a situation and boost their ego. These behaviors include gas-lighting, passive aggressive language or actions, projection, manipulation, and all narcissists are incapable of showing empathy for others.

The vulnerable child is relying on their parents to give them love, nurturing, support, and validation. Unfortunately, children in these situations do not receive this attention from their narcissistic or emotionally abusive parent.

Eventually, because of the close bond between children and their parents, the child will either cater to their parent or be their emotional punching bag. If they cater to their parent, the child will be their source of narcissistic supply. If the child does not boost their parent’s ego, they will most likely become a victim of their parent’s emotional abuse.

All of this is extremely harmful to the wellbeing of any children involved in similar situations. Since the child is unaware that their parent is a narcissist, they will subconsciously see the dysfunction as a reflection of their own self-worth. This becomes an abusive cycle that often results in a child feeling or thinking negatively about themselves.

Children with narcissistic parents are often forced to conform to what their parent believes is “perfect” behavior. If they do not conform to the rules their parent makes for them, they will ultimately face the abusive manipulation of their parent.

A healthy parent loves their child unconditionally, regardless of what their child does for them. They love their child for who they are, rather than how the child makes them feel.

A healthy parent knows how to satisfy their inner self while maintaining a stable and loving relationship with their children.

This is unlike the narcissist parent who is not able to do this, which is why they crave ego-boosting attention from their children.


We know that appearances are exceptionally important to a narcissist and their own children are not exempt from their standard of physical attractiveness. Narcissistic parents often look at their children as life-sized dolls they can dress up as they please. Children with narcissistic parents are often denied their right to be messy, normal children. Narcissistic parents force their children to be, from their own perspective, “perfect” because their children are an extension of themselves.


Children are no exception when it comes to a narcissist’s ability to feel empathy for others. When a parent cannot feel empathy for their children, they are not emotionally available for them. This creates a barrier between a child and their own emotions.

When children do not have a voice in their own house, the child will often experience internal struggles. They grow up feeling the innate pressure to please their parent or others and they often become codependent. Or, these children will grow up to become narcissists, as well, and continue the cycle.


Narcissistic parents are prone to neglecting their children. They  do this because they do not understand love and give attention to their children in random, energetic, and overindulgent bursts. They do not understand that this is not the way to get the love, affection, and loyalty from their children.

Most narcissistic parents want their children to be a source of ego-boosting attention and a narcissistic supply that they can rely on when they are feeling low. Sometimes, narcissistic parents will neglect the not-so-fun tasks that come with having a child. That often leaves the other, mentally stable parent to pick up their slack.

This lack of responsibility comes from the narcissistic parent’s need to remain liked by their children, which is another symbol of their emotional manipulation to gain narcissistic supply from their kids.

A narcissist does not care about any of the hard work. They do not want the responsibility of being a parent, they just want the positive affirmation and affection from their children.


There is usually a “golden child” when a narcissistic starts a family. The one child that does what they want because they mirror what their parent wants from them. These golden children do not disappoint their parents and, as a result, do not suffer from their emotional abusive and manipulation.

The golden child is put on a pedestal and is influenced into believing that they can not do any wrong. They are not held to the same standard as their siblings might be, which causes tension and resentment within their family.


In order to get love and affection from a narcissist. you must be able to give them something. That is why achievements and recognition are very important to a narcissistic parent. How you as a child look to other people gives the narcissist a high. If people see your achievements and accomplishments and you are viewed as “successful”,  then the narcissistic parent will praise you.

When a child encounters struggle, narcissistic parents will disengage and will not be emotionally available for you. They will not support you or assist you or guide you throw whatever experience you in as a child. They only show up for their child when that child is successful in the eyes of others.

Regardless of the abuse that you might have endured from your narcissistic parent, you must accept that you do not take any of the blame. Now, as a grown adult, you have to take control and responsibility of your own life and stop the abusive cycle for generations to come.

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About Stephanie

Stephanie coaches her clients that have recently gone through a divorce or ended a relationship. She teaches them the process of healing.

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