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Narcissists are individuals who have an incurable personality disorder known as a narcissistic personality disorder. The primary signs of a narcissist are selfishness, having a grandiose sense of self, instability, and relational dysfunction.

In many cases, narcissists also lack empathy, which can be a disastrous trait to have for those around them. Narcissists oftentimes don’t think of anyone but themselves, and when it comes to getting what they want or having control, they will do whatever it takes and step all over whomever it takes to get there. Needless to say, for those who are raised by a narcissist, it can be pure hell.

If you were raised by a narcissist, then you likely already know firsthand how abusive they can be. And because their abuse is sometimes covert, and oftentimes emotional, it cuts deep. Here are 4 ways narcissistic parents abuse their children.

1. Idealization and Devaluation

Narcissists have a pattern in their relationships that persists and cycles over and over again. This pattern is known as idealization and devaluation. Put simply, one day they love bombs and exclaim how wonderful their child is, and the next, they are tearing their child down bit by bit. In one moment, they are abusive and tyrannical and in the next, they are hugging and loving. It’s very confusing.

2. They view them as an extension of themselves.

Narcissists do not recognize their child’s autonomy. They do not view their children as individuals but rather as an extension of themselves. When their children have their own beliefs and opinions, the narcissist shuts them down. When they try to do something on their own, even as adults, the narcissist will micromanage them. This is abusive because it robs the child of being ability to lead their own lives and in many ways, their parents don’t even consider how they feel, because of their lack of empathy.

3. They gaslight.

Narcissists are very manipulative, even to their kids. One of the tactics they use is gaslighting. Gaslighting is when a narcissist intentionally makes their child doubt their reality. For example, a child may tell their parent they are sad, only to be told, “No you aren’t. You are fine.” Or, a child may recollect how their parent said something, only for their parent to say, “You are crazy. I never said that.” It may seem harmless, but this wrecks the child’s mental health.

4. Their love is conditional.

Narcissists do not love anyone without conditions. It’s always I love you until, or I love you if you… They may use phrases like, “If you loved me you would ______,” to manipulate their kids. And if their child doesn’t do EXACTLY as they expect, they are quick to tell them they don’t love them. As soon as their child does whatever it is they expect of them, they will act as though they love them once more.