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Narcissistic Parents

Rohini Mohan Nov 20, 2018
Narcissistic parents are possessive about their children and are self-obsessed. For them, the child is a puppet meant for personal gain and prestige, and when the child begins to rebel they take it as a personal slight and become retributive.
NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder makes an individual completely self-obsessed. These people do not care about others, except when it comes to extracting benefits from them.
This disorder can affect anyone and is not restricted to a specific gender. Narcissists grow older and take on the role of parenting, thereby paving the path of further misery for their own children.
Narcissistic parents are extremely possessive about all or only one of their children. This child becomes the parent's center of attention, leaving no breathing space and independence for the chosen child. These children grow up living lives which they did not choose.
The reason for this coercion seems to find its roots in emotional liabilities which the child feels for the parent as well as the sense of duty instilled by the parent in the child.

Traits of Narcissistic Parents

Instilling Dependent Behavior

Instilling dependent and infantile behavior in the child. Which means that the child is brought up with too much care and attention. The child is made to believe that he or she cannot do something without the help or supervision of the parent.
The child becomes dependent on the parent, thereby incapacitating his or her initial stages of independence and decision-making. The child becomes accustomed to doing what he/she is told and will need permission for every action or decision. This becomes a habit and represents the level of control that the narcissistic parent has over the child.

Possessiveness and Jealousy

Such parents are extremely possessive about their chosen child. They use these children as a medium of reflecting their own dreams, aspirations and expectations. For them, the child is merely an instrument of self-preservation and self-acclaim. They wish to see their child succeed in the path chosen by the parent so that, society may credit the parent.
For instance, a father who is a successful government official will ensure that his son or daughter of choice becomes a successful government official as well. The same can also apply in the case wherein the narcissistic parent himself is a failure but wishes to feel successful, by making sure that his child achieves the father's goals and dreams.
Once the child has become successful in the parent's chosen field, the parent will take all the credit for the child's achievement.
The flip side of this possessiveness is that, if in case the child rebels or does not wish to follow the same path, the parent will become increasingly jealous of the child's growing sense of independence.
Such a parent will try all means in order to throttle the child's aspirations. The repercussions of any form of disregard from the child will bring about violent behavior traits such as:
  • Anger and rage against the child.
  • Blaming the child for everything that went wrong with the parent's life.
  • Emotional abuse and neglect.
  • Always criticizing and nitpicking the child for every action.
  • Physical violence and abuse.

Emotional Blackmailing.

The narcissistic parent extracts whatever he or she wishes to gain by emotionally manipulating the child. Such a parent can use the given strategies to ensure that the child remains with them:
  • In the first strategy, the child is made to feel as if the parent is completely dependent on the child and needs help in order to live and carry out daily functions.
  • The second strategy works on the principle of mutual partnership, wherein the parent makes the child feel as if they are a team and the final objective cannot be achieved without the utmost cooperation of the child.
  • The third way, is to make the child feel guilty for seeking independence or not being a good child to the parent. They make the child feel ashamed of not having done enough and thereby manipulating the child to go the extra mile in order to appease the unhappy parent.
  • The final strategy involves using threat and punishment in order to extract discipline from the child. The narcissist parents will threaten to either harm the child or themselves, so as to make the child behave according to their personal needs.


Narcissistic individuals are in general self-obsessed about themselves. A narcissistic mother or father, will go out of their way to extract attention from others. They enjoy turning the conversation towards themselves and want people to appreciate them. They enjoy being praised, often fish for compliments and always expect their children to keep them happy.

Dealing with Narcissistic Parents

The only way to deal with such a parent is to demarcate a clear line. Children must stop fearing them and try to become independent as soon as possible. The parent will realize that the child is seeking independence. From that point onwards, the child needs to learn how to repel the manipulative nature of the parent.
Narcissism being a mental disorder needs treatment, patience and time. Seeking counseling can help the parent as well as the child cope with the problems in the relationship.
Maintaining a healthy distance from such narcissistic parents while trying to create a median is the only way to harmonize the relationship. These parents will go out of their way to make their children feel insignificant and subhuman, which are tendencies the children must learn to recognize and deflect.