Consequences of growing up with a narcissistic parent


Using a publication in the magazine A Mente é Maravilhosa, we read that experts in the field of psychology consider it very difficult for a child to grow up with a narcissistic father or mother.

When a child at 8, 9 or even 10 years old, already imagines himself living an adult life, the task of visualizing himself without those characteristic traits of parents is complicated, and then he starts to fear for his future. He becomes unstable and insecure and, one day, he will surely realize the erratic manner of upbringing he received.

According to the same experts, “there is an excess of unhealed emotional trauma and neglected psychological areas. The mental submission to which one is submitted becomes an insurmountable obstacle to building the foundations of good self-esteem, a fundamental pillar for emotional management. These deficiencies act as burdens for the correct psychosocial development and self-confidence, basic elements to achieve dreams and desires».

Likewise, according to a study by the University of Bahauddin (Pakistan), it is very common for the narcissistic profile to appear in the father. This creates family nuclei in which the woman and children are anchored in that dominant figure that monopolizes all attention and need. Mother and children have the sole responsibility to satisfy and care for this narcissistic father.

Faced with this bad environment, it is important to assess the effects that these experiences carry into adulthood and, in this sense, the child or young person lives dominated by paralyzing emotions that, deep down, are those that do not allow the person to be equal to himself. These are emotions that limit decision-making capacity and interfere with contact with self-care and with the discovery of individual potential.

So one of the effects of growing up with a narcissistic parent is to live in constant indecision and insecurity. People have difficulty solving problems, deciding for themselves, meeting their needs and even getting to know themselves.

At the same time, a terrible sense of guilt resides within that child or young person. Guilt for not having reacted sooner, guilt for not having fought against all that suffering that was experienced in childhood and a huge guilt also for not having been what I wanted.

Also in this sense, it is important to mention that it can be a narcissistic father or mother, with the male figure being more common, however, there are many cases of women with this pathology. Then, it should be noted that, even if the child, young person or adult distances themselves from this father or mother, they will carry the marks of all this suffering with them, which is why psychological therapy is strongly recommended to help in the treatment of these traumas.

Following are the effects of gaslighting that is suffered daily. That is to say, that father or that mother made us believe that we are fallible in everything or almost everything we do. These parents convince their children that they are useless, that they have little or no talent and that they can offer little to the world with their characteristics. Naturally, this destroys the self-esteem of any human being and it has to be urgently worked on.

This type of parents criticize everything their children do, be it hobbies, friends, achievements and make their children feel like the worst people in the world.

Still within the scope of the consequences of having a narcissistic father or mother, we have the selfish personality, which means: «what I need doesn’t matter».

The selfish personality prefers to exist, but not very noticeable. This child or young person knows very well what it is to be selfish and, for that reason, does not want to repeat this pattern, so it ends up becoming precisely the opposite. He becomes a person without a will of his own and who prefers to do everything for others. In many cases, this form of altruism becomes pathological. This son or daughter completely neglects their needs, has no opinion on various matters, and is totally devoted to the wishes of others. As this son or daughter doesn’t want to be a burden in someone’s life, he ends up living in the shadow of others. They don’t want to bother, they are afraid of harming others, so they end up being real “puppets” at the mercy of others to feel less guilty.

Another effect of growing up with a narcissistic parent is ambivalent insecure attachment. This means that the person who grew up in this environment is full of fear and needs. She wants to be loved, but fears being hurt again, so she becomes suspicious and contradictory, because she wants, but fears, wants, but cannot, and so on. It is the contradictory dynamics of this type of ambivalent attachment that lead to the failure of relationships.

“When we are raised by a narcissist, it is very difficult to establish secure, happy and stable emotional relationships. We have a hard time trusting, but at the same time we desperately need to be loved», reinforce the experts.

Another recurring factor among those who had to grow up with a narcissistic parent is somatization. All the accumulation of negative valence emotions suffered in the past and not managed is still there, especially anger. This emotion experienced in the face of every contempt, manipulation, belittling, and psychological abuse leaves a mark. Something like that usually translates into various physical ailments.

To conclude, there are many consequences that can remain with us as a result of these experiences. Now, the most important thing is to deal with all these realities. Psychological therapy can allow us to overcome these internal wounds and shape a much better present and future, so if you grew up in this type of environment, don’t hesitate to ask for expert help.

Fatima Fernandes