Raised by a narcissistic mother and an ever-absent father myself, I understand the importance of having mentally stable parents to raise you.
Because ever since we were children, we looked to our parents for love, encouragement, and support. However, when our parents didn’t give us these things, we were forced to develop coping mechanisms in order to survive in the toxic environment.
What’s worse, these coping mechanisms have never left us. Even now, as adults, we are suffering from the traumas of the childhood abuse we went through.
The first healing step of your childhood wounds is your willingness to internalize and process what you went through. This doesn’t mean that you should play the victim and condemn your parents, but to understand your pain to be able to let go of it.
First, you should understand the difference between two kinds of narcissistic parents:
1. Ignoring Narcissists – are those parents who are not interested in their children’s lives. They neglect their children and set clear boundaries that separate them from their children.
2. Engulfing Narcissists – are those parents that take pride in their children’s achievements because they see them as extensions of themselves. Contrary to the Ignoring Narcissists, the Engulfing Narcissists become obsessively involved in the lives of their children and they don’t have boundaries because they don’t see them as separate people.
What Is Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome?
Narcissistic abuse is an emotional (sometimes physical) abuse done by a person with a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists tend to use abusive and harsh words to alter and control their partner’s behavior in order to manipulate them for their own means. Some narcissists use gaslighting as a powerful tool for manipulation and confusing their partners so that they can do whatever the narcissist wants or needs from them.
Is Narcissism Inherited?
Yes, narcissism can be inherited. According to the 2014 study, researchers discovered that genetics could indeed play a major role in causing narcissistic personality disorder. Namely, they found that some narcissistic traits are heritable such as entitlement (35% heritable) and grandiosity (23% heritable).
How Do Narcissistic Parents Behave?
Below are 12 major signs that you were raised by a narcissistic mother and/or father.
1. They owned your accomplishments.
Has someone congratulated you on winning the first prize for your art piece? Your parents must have immediately jumped in and said something in along the lines of, “Yeah, he/she got the talent from me. I was always artistic as a child.”
2. They constantly insulted you.
They often insulted, berated, harassed, and demeaned you. They took almost every chance they got to latch onto some insecurity that you’ve had and used it for as means of humiliation.
3. They tried to control you through codependency.
Your (narcissistic) parents were telling you that they needed you and that you must never leave them because they couldn’t live without you. This has made it impossible for you to be independent and to have a separate life from your parents. You forgot your priorities because you were focused on your parents’ needs.
4. They laid the guilt on thick.
This is another method that your (narcissistic) parents used to control you – by guilt tripping you into doing what they wanted you to do. You have probably heard them say something along the lines of “We have sacrificed everything for you.” In As a result, you feel like you owe them, so you must be obedient and listen to them.
5. They lied to you constantly.
They lied in order to control and manipulate you into getting something out of you. As a result, now you can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s not because you always expect people to set you up with a hidden trap that you can fall into.
6. They never respected your boundaries.
You didn’t have any privacy when you were growing up. Your parents had a habit to enterof entering your room without knocking, and they were more than happy to go through your things without any second thoughts. Moreover, they used the things they’ve found to blame you.
7. They gaslighted you.
This psychological technique for manipulation is so subtle that the victim is left feeling powerless without even knowing it. Gaslighting is when your parents made make you feel like you are crazy, or that something is wrong with you to get the upper hand. This results in you doubting everything as an adult.
8. They only loved you when you did what they wanted.
You’ve always had the impression that your parents only loved you when you did something they wanted. Otherwise, they gave you the silent treatment. You’ve always felt that you should prove your worth for them to love you.
9. They never showed empathy towards you.
Your parents never asked about your day or cared about your feelings. You felt as if you couldn’t share your feelings with them because they would make fun of you, or they would never listen to you in the first place.
10. They projected their bad behavior onto you.
For instance, in an argument, you’ve probably heard your parent scream hysterically something like: “How dare you to talk to me like that? Go to your room!”
11. They were infallibly correct and NEVER wrong.
Even when they treated you unfairly – they never apologized to you for their mistake. And when you confronted them, they never admitted they made a mistake in the first place. Instead, they put all the blame on you.
12. They wanted to present a ‘perfect’ family image to others.
They most probably went to great lengths to make others to perceive you as the perfect, loving, and successful family that everyone wants to have. Most likely, you were aware of their ploy, but you had to be silent and go with it because you didn’t want to experience your parents’ wrath.
What Are The Signs Of A Narcissistic Mother?
All children rely on their parents’ love and support, and if the children are neglected instead, it can tremendously affect their future development and traumatize them. Likewise, a narcissistic mother cannot give her children the love and affection they need. Instead, she mistreats them and unconsciously abuses them.
Here are the signs that a mother is narcissistic.
1. A narcissistic mother lacks empathy and compassion.
Every (sane) parent feels pain when their child is in pain. Likewise, they feel happy when their child is happy. However, a narcissistic mother lacks empathy. She can’t attune themselves to their children’s emotions. So, the child feels emotionally neglected and invisible.
2. A narcissistic mother doesn’t respect her children’s boundaries.
She wants complete control and power over her children’s lives, and therefore, she monitors every step they make. She may show up at the place where her children are unannounced, claiming she was in the neighborhood while, in reality, she was controlling them.
3. A narcissistic mother gaslights her children.
She tells her children they are overreacting. She tells them they don’t remember what happened. She lies to them. She tries to distort reality by making them feel they are always forgetting things. She also attempts to change how they feel by telling them they should be grateful for the things she does for them.
4. A narcissistic mother only treats her children well in public.
A narcissistic mom acts differently when she is out in public and behind closed doors. When she is at home alone with her children, she may scream at them and abuse them, but when they are out in public, she is affectionate and even boasts about their successes and accomplishments to other people. The truth is, she projects the image of being the perfect mother, but she is far from a good mother. A narcissistic mother presents herself as the victim.
She does that to gain sympathy from others and also to guilt trip their children to feel sorry for her and then behave like she wants them to.
What Happens To Daughters Of Narcissistic Mothers?
- They believe that love is conditional. Because she grew up with a mother who only loved her when and if she did what she wanted of her. Therefore, she thinks that she first needs to deserve the love of others.
- They accept manipulation and abuse in relationships. In fact, they not only accept being abused, they expect it. Because they were abused their whole life by the person who should have loved them the most, they think manipulation and abuse are normal things when you love someone.
- They blame themselves for everything that goes wrong in their life. They think everything is their fault because their mother was telling them they were wrong their entire life.
- They chase people who don’t love them. In fact, they may spend their whole lives chasing a love that they didn’t have while growing up.
- They become people-pleasers. They were constantly catering to their mother’s needs, so they became accustomed to people-please anyone. They tend to think only about the needs of others and not their own.
- They need constant validation and approval.
- They may become a narcissist themselves. Growing up with a narcissistic mother can turn them into narcissistic person because they think that is the right way. So, they will follow their mother’s example in their relationships with other people.
- They will likely end up with severe PTSD.
If you were raised by a narcissistic mother, it is time to heal yourself. Understand what she did to you. Forgive her for not knowing better, and then move on from her. Sit with your pain for a while. Don’t force the healing process. Victims of narcissistic mothers can have severe trauma that cannot be healed immediately. But with time and the right treatment and approach, you can do it.
On the flip side, here’s what happens to children having narcissistic fathers.
What Happens To Sons Of Narcissistic Fathers?
Sons of narcissistic fathers lack self-confidence. They were raised in an environment where their father was constantly absent from their life and made them feel inadequate and undeserving of their love and affection. Their father never gave them the approval they needed as children. They were controlling, power-hungry, and abusive with their sons. They were critical of them whenever they made a mistake yet bragged about them in front of other people.
Moreover, narcissistic fathers are often physically or emotionally absent and wrapped up in their work or giving in to their addictions, so they don’t have time to spend with their sons. They neglect their sons, and they think that playing games and doing activities with them is unimportant. They think that as long as they provide for them financially, they are good fathers.
As a result, their son starts feeling scared, helpless, enraged and humiliated because of all the injustice and abuse he went through. So, as an adult, he probably will have conflicts with authority and people with power. He may also become confrontational and aggressive, not knowing how to deal with his emotions properly. And anything they do in life, they will feel like it is never enough. So, they will probably give up trying to be successful and end up “floating” in life without direction.
What Narcissistic Fathers Do To Their Daughters?
Daughters of narcissistic fathers feel inadequate as adults because while they were growing up, their dad was usually absent from their life, and so their “thirst” for dad’s attention and love was never entirely satisfied. They always had to compete for their father’s time and attention.
And even though their dad was telling them they were beautiful, and they were daddy’s princesses, when it came to having a real connection and bonding, their dad couldn’t bond with them in a real way. Their relationship was merely superficial because their dad was more interested in maintaining his image as “the perfect father” and being out socializing with other people than being at home with his daughters.
As a grown woman, she feels like she is not enough for a man. She competes with other women for their love interest’s attention and love because she lacks self-confidence. She doesn’t respect herself, and so, she lives with the constant fear that her partner will abandon her for someone else, just like her father was abandoning her.
How To Heal From Narcissistic Parents
The first thing you should do if you want to heal from the trauma of living with narcissistic parents is to grieve the things you needed but didn’t receive. Feel the pain. And don’t rush the grieving process because it is necessary for your healing.
Then, learn to set healthy boundaries with people. Stop accommodating others and cater to their needs. Efforts should be equal. Stop putting up with people who are toxic to your well-being and learn how to say no, and cut off people from your life that doesn’t serve you, even if they are your parents.