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Narcissists have become quite the hot topic, with various articles, videos, and books being written about who they are and what it is like to deal with one. And while many of these articles look at what it’s like to date a narcissist or be involved with one romantically, I would like to place the focus on what it’s like to be the child of a narcissist.

Narcissists are individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder. Those who have this disorder must meet certain criteria and have certain symptoms. Oftentimes, especially nowadays, people use the term narcissist to define anyone as abusive, toxic, or selfish, however, a true narcissist has to meet certain criteria for diagnosis. This criterion includes things like:

1. A lack of empathy
2. A grandiose view of the self.
3. An exaggerated sense of self.
4. A tendency to take advantage of others.
5. A sense of entitlement.
6. Requires excessive admiration.
7. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
8. Is envious of others.
9. Believes they are special and unique and can only be understood by certain high-status people.

It’s no wonder when you take the symptoms of NPD into account why they are so difficult to maintain relationships with. Those who are born as the child of a narcissist are especially susceptible to their antics.

What’s worse is that because children require emotional support and discipline (not punishment, but someone to teach them how to do the right thing) they are often neglected on those levels by the narcissist.

While healthy parents lead their children and teach them the how’s and why’s of life and how to be better people, narcissists work to control their children. They condition their children and much like people treat their pets-the narcissist works to ‘train’ their child. Instead of teaching their children how to think for themselves and grow, they want their children to bend to their will and do what they are told.

They don’t teach, they manipulate. And in the case of an uncontrollable child-the narcissist can get outright abusive. They do not understand that their children are autonomous individuals with their drive and will, instead, they view their kids as an extension of themselves.

When the kids act out, they don’t get upset because their child is dealing with behavioral issues, they get upset because it makes them look bad. Instead of showing their child how to deal with their emotions, they teach them how to bury them. They don’t like anything that messes up their pretty distortion of what their life is- and as soon as their child begins to make their image any less than perfect, they will begin their campaign of belittling them and tearing them down. If the child won’t bend-they will withhold affection.

This endless cycle is not only emotionally abusive, it is flat out toxic. And for most children of a narcissist, therapy is a must.