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Narcissists are people we try to avoid but sadly, their children are unable to really get away from them in most cases. They have to go through the things their parents push forth until they are of age and well, it takes a serious toll on them. 

If you grew up with a narcissistic parent(s) you know exactly what I mean. While you may move on and live your life as best you can, you still face a lot as a result of the things you went through during your childhood. The children of narcissists are often pushed to be perfect and well, the psychological effects a narcissistic parent can have on their offspring is well worth being aware of. 

Psychology Today wrote as follows on this topic breaking down some of the effects children face in situations like this:

Young children of narcissists learn early in life that everything they do is a reflection on the parent to the point that the child must fit into the personality and behavioral mold intended for them. These children bear tremendous anxiety from a young age as they must continually push aside their own personality in order to please the parent and provide the mirror image the parent so desperately needs. If these children fail to comply with the narcissist’s wishes or try to set their own goals for their life – God, forbid – the children will be overtly punished, frozen out or avoided for a period of time – hours, days or even weeks depending on the perceived transgression in the eyes of the narcissistic parent.

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.”

When you’re a child you don’t really think much of the things your parents do and you assume things are normal overall even if they aren’t. The older you get the more apparent the issues at hand become but oftentimes there isn’t much you can do about your situation which for a lot of reason is quite saddening. Narcissistic parents come in a wide variety and while some are overbearing others are far more distant than you might realize. 

Some narcissistic parents use their kids as a means of living the life they wished they could have lived. They will push them to do things and be a certain way even if that doesn’t align with their child at all. For instance, they may force them to play football even if the child hates football and isn’t good at it. While that might be a mild example things like this are all too common. 

Oftentimes the children of narcissists feel like they have to be perfect and that even if they are perfect, nothing they say or do is good enough to please their parent(s). This leads them to be much more prone to people-pleasing as they grow because they seek the validation they were never given as a child. Narcissistic parents are very manipulative and having one really does lead you down a path that can be quite painful. 

To learn more about all of this take a look at the video below. This kind of thing is scary when you really think about it. Tons of people experience this kind of thing and not all of them even come to terms with it once they reach adulthood.