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While it might not be something you knew you were facing growing up, looking back if your mother was narcissistic or perhaps even borderline, chances are you dealt with more than you should have. Children who are born to mothers who have this kind of thing often don’t realize how much they’ve faced at the hands of those who were supposed to love them.

Don’t get me wrong, people with BPD if treated properly can be great but mothers who refuse to break the cycle of abuse tend to really feed into the toxic things that things like NPD or BPD have present. No two cases are the same and so the children born from mothers like this tend to all have unique and heartbreaking stories. The borderline or narcissistic mother is one that uses emotions against her child and tries to trap them into things they shouldn’t be facing. If your mother wants you to feel like you owe her by being born, you could be dealing with something like this. 

Narcissistic mothers or parents see their children as an extension of themselves rather than their own beings. They think their kids belong to them and do not view them as equals as they should. They use their kids to live out their own lives and honestly, it can leave the children once they grow up wondering who they are or what path they really want to go down in life because they never got to explore this avenue properly on their own.

Psychology Today wrote as follows on the effect a narcissistic parent can have on their kids:

With young children, the narcissistic parent is experienced as unpredictable and confusing. After all, narcissists are awfully difficult to understand for adults, so just imagine how confusing the capricious narcissist is in the eyes of a young child! Because young kids can’t make accurate sense of the narcissist’s interpersonal tricks and stunts, these children internalize intense shame (‘I keep failing my Mom’) which leads to anger that the child turns on himself (‘I’m so stupid,’ ‘Something’s wrong with me’). The overall quality and strength of the bond between the narcissistic parent and young child are poor and weak. Deep down, the child doesn’t feel consistently loved, as the child is taught the metaphoric Narcissistic Parenting Program: You’re only as good as I say you are, and you’ll be loved only if you’re fully compliant with my wishes. Simply put, it’s truly heartbreaking for the child – although the narcissistic parent is sinfully oblivious.

It’s not until many years later that the life experiences of the child of the narcissist start to make a little more sense. Friends often catch glimpses of the kind of ‘crazy’ parenting these individuals received, so he or she starts to get a healthy reality check like this: “Your mom is insane,” or “Your Dad is seriously messed up.”

Because the narcissistic parent-child bond was so distorted and corrupt, the offspring as adults tend to gravitate toward drama-laden, roller-coaster relationships – especially with romantic partners. Because they didn’t grow up with the belief that they were intrinsically okay and good, it makes perfect sense that these individuals would gravitate toward stormy romantic partners later. These adults would feel like a fish out of water in a relationship with someone who loved them consistently, and the experience would be so unfamiliar that it would cause major anxiety. Accordingly, these individuals tend to seek out partners who are emotionally unavailable, critical or withholding – just like Mommy and/or Daddy was in the past. In short, the only kind of relationship the adult child of a narcissist really fits in with is one with a highly skewed dynamic: The child of the narcissist must cater to and keep their partner happy, even when that involves squashing her own needs and feelings.

It’s not until the adult children of a narcissist get (a lot of) psychotherapy or have a life-changing experience that pulls them away them from the disturbed parent that these adult children can truly begin to heal – and then create better, more normal relationships that offer the give-and-take reciprocity most of us have and value in our relationships.

The more aware we are of this and the things we as the children of these people the better we can work to understand our trauma and heal ourselves within. You can’t free yourself from the baggage you’re carrying if you aren’t sure it’s there in the first place. Don’t downplay the things you’ve gone through, your experiences are valid.