Narcissism is a toxic and harmful personality. A narcissist is usually difficult to distinguish because they play the role so well. To them, this is a well-rehearsed trait. They value their skill of being able to control and manipulate people. A narcissist will persuade someone to believe that they are this ideal person of how they want people to perceive them. Although, it’s not who they are.
All my life, till I was in my early 20’s, I was led to believe that I was incompetent, unworthy of being a person, and just overall full of self-doubt because of my mother. I was unaware of her toxic trait at first until my sister sought therapy. We both realized after all the heartache and pain, that our mother has traits of a narcissist.
How Narcissism Affects Children
A narcissistic parent will try to manipulate their children and it’s possible that it will be a continuing issue in the child’s life until they realize that they have a narcissistic parent.
The child will grow with anxiety, stress, sometimes anti-social, and doubtful in their future. This is because a narcissistic parent will try to bribe and manipulate their child into believing that they need to do what the parent asks for to show affection towards them, or even to make themselves look good. The child will grow to believe that this is normal. Normal to do everything that they ask for to get a result from their parent. In most cases, there is no positive result, but repetitive manipulation.
It will be more difficult for a child if the parents are co-parenting. The narcissistic parent may try to bribe the child to do things for them so they could hold something against the other parent. Sometimes, the narcissistic parent will tell the child what the other parent did and get the child to believe that the other parent is the bad cop. This becomes confusing and harmful to the child and the child’s relationship with the other parent. As the child grows, they won’t realize the manipulation and control the narcissistic parent put them through until the child is already damaged. It’s like a disease that they must fight off now for the rest of their life. Children grow up with self-doubt in their lives; that they are incapable of pleasing their parents or even doing good in life. Sometimes they’re led to believe that all that they will ever do is fail.
On a recent trip to Seattle, WA for a family business engagement, my sister and I subjected ourselves to our mother for an entire weekend. We realized shortly after our arrival to Seattle, being self-centered is common to a narcissist. They will talk about themselves and make every issue about themselves if it isn’t about them. At one point during our trip, our mother told a story about herself for an entire hour. Just as much as you live your own success, a narcissistic parent will also make your success, their success. They live off of it. They’ll tell all their friends about how great of a kid you are but no one will ever know the amount of hurt and pain you’ve been having to go through. Having to take your shine away from you from your own parent. It’s damaging even as an adult.
They’re controlling & manipulative
When you’re young, you don’t realize that what your narcissistic parent is doing is abusive. You’re just doing what your parent asked you to do and hoping to get rewarded for all the great things you’ve done to show them that you’re a good child.
A narcissist can get low and ugly, especially against their child. If you don’t do something that they want or like, they can make you feel lower than the core of the earth. They can get their child to believe that they’re “bad” for not listening to them, because as children, we don’t know any better. We seek that guidance from our parents.
A narcissistic parent will try to persuade their child into doing extremely well in school and with good behavior, the narcissistic parent will tell them that they will do certain things for them as a reward. In most cases, It is unlikely for a narcissist to stick to their word. When this happens, it produces a barrier towards the child’s ego and emotions and results in the child growing into a narcissist themselves.
How To Not Subject Yourself To A Narcissist's Emotions
A narcissist knows how to play the role well into making those around them believe that they are the victim. People tend to fall for the narcissist's act often, that they are this make-believe person that they want you to believe.
As a child to a narcissist, you will feel uncertainty because you’re made to believe that you are to listen to your parents when they tell you to do things. For years, I would listen to my mother bicker and fight with me about how incompetent I was compared to my straight-A cousins. Most times, I would fight back with her and constantly try to explain to her why I was falling behind in school, or why I actually didn’t even want to be at the school. It was pointless.
My mother fought with me about anything and everything and she was always “right." It was always her way or no way. The best way to win a game with a toxic person is to not play at all. Remind yourself of the positive energy and just keep moving. Tell them “OK” and move on. If they keep instigating, just ignore them. It may sound easier said than done, but it will help you mentally.
Try not to subject your own emotions, because a narcissist knows how to dig deep into your skin and find your trigger points. My ex knew all of my trigger points. I was like a rag doll to him. He could throw me around, pick me up, stomp on me, and did not have a care in the world about how I felt. The more I fought back the more he slammed me up against the wall and the worse I felt about myself. I slowly learned that just simply ignoring his profound words helped me get through the night. Simply by not responding altogether to him. It drew him anxiety.
No matter how hard they slam you up against the wall, don’t fall into it. A narcissist looks for your reaction, especially a narcissistic parent.
All In Favor
After realizing a narcissistic trait in a parent, it becomes a reality as to why you are the way you are. It’s almost heartbreaking to know that you have been secretly abused all your life and had absolutely no idea about it. You look for a certain kind of love from your parents and all your life you’ve been receiving the complete opposite.
If you think you may have a narcissistic parent or even question it, speak to someone; a sibling, a therapist, a counselor, or a third party that has no recollection of your relationship with the narcissist. It will be hard, but the support system is where you’ll find yourself able to get on the right path.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Megan on April 10, 2018:
Thank you so much for your article.
It has helped me realize a lot of things about not just my mother but my father as well.
I remember the first time my father ever got into my face and screamed at me.
He screamed at me, two inches from my face, for baking a cake when he got home from work.
He ranted and raved for the better part of an hour while my mom sat there and let it happen.
He didn't stop it she didn't say a word.
Then, about thirty minutes after he was done, he came to apologize.
And I accepted it. Thirteen year old me thought that this wouldn't happen again and that he wouldn't yell at me like he did my mom again.
But it did happen, over and over again.
And while he was doing that, my mother's true came out.
Her petty narcissistic personality finally stood out to me, and our relationship changed and has never been the same.
She would belittle everything I wore, How low my grades were, who I was friends with, what I watched, what I read, even what I ate.
My father constantly called me a fat pig whenever is stepped into the kitchen, mostly because whenever my mom would go grocery shopping I'd eat most of it within a week because we rarely had food in the house that my parents didn't hoard.
And I have struggled with binge eating ever since.
I was thirteen when I began to harm myself to cope with the stress of the mental, emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse; this also includes the neglect They showed me as a younger child.
And, instead of getting me real help, my parents hid it from everybody, unless it got them attention for helping their child with severe emotional problems.
I struggle with a cutting addiction to this very day.
I'm only 22 and I'm still being abused by these people.
The unfortunate part of this is that I still live with them, because I am not financially able to live on my own.
But I am currently saving up to get my own place.
Hopefully I'll be able to leave in a year or so.
onika on January 12, 2018:
Andrew on December 05, 2017:
Badlands babe ...My gosh ...I can so relate to that. My mother was psychotic and narcissistic to no end. I'm 48 and finally excorsising that demon for good. Without broken bones it's tough to convince people. My mom would throw shoes and plates, and the wooden spoon was BRUTAL. I'm not talking about a spanking now and then, my mother was unhinged, and usually because of my fathers drinking and gambling and god knows what else. He was no peach either. And they're so fake no one would ever believe me. I hate to sound bitter, but I hope they get what they deserve.
T on November 06, 2017:
thank you for this article this was really helpful and described my parents very well. I just wish that I could change things and who adopted me. I think about it all the time wondering where I would be and how I would feel today.
Badlands babe on October 08, 2017:
Thank you for a well written article, bringing light to a mental disorder that affects & damages more lives than people realize.
I'm an adult daughter of a narcissistic mother who, I finally went no contact with seven years ago but, I still hear from her apprx once a year & sometimes it can be once every other year, it just depends on how her narcissistic feed supply is going. When I do hear from her, it's in the form of a poorly written, misspelled & grammatically incorrect note of sorts, she used to make me write everything for her starting when I was in the fourth grade, I wasn't impressed & I grew very resentful of her for it.
She will write on whatever she finds & I will discover it taped to my front door & expectedly, the note's are full of none other than her...
On top of my mother's narcissism, she has an undiagnosed personality disorder she's never bothered to seek help & treatment for & it contributed greatly to the horribly abusive childhood I endured. Walking on egg shells constantly, never knowing when or what might set her off, constantly being belittled & devalued, embarrassed & humiliated, verbally & physical abuse, having zero self-esteem, self love, & self worth were all the norm growing up in my dysfunctional household. Once back in high school, (which by the way she informed me at age 16 that I needed to drop out & get a full time job with a paycheck, so I did one better, I stayed in school & got a job working at a fast food shop after school every day.) my alarm clock didn't go off one morning, when I awoke, I had 30 minutes until my ride would be pulling up so, I was hustling triple time to get ready & out the door, mind you, she had no reason to bother herself, she didn't give me a ride, it had nothing to do with her & seeing as I'd been setting an alarm clock & getting my self ready & for school since the first grade, & I'm very serious, I had the routine down. So, I'm throwing my self together, & like always, she proceeds to enter my room screaming nothing but profanity, & then grabs my hair brush out if my hand as I'm using it & begins striking me any place she could & the berating just got worse as she continued abusing me. I remember making it toward the front door & exiting & my head was pounding & full of welts in the spots she hit me as my ride was pulling up, my eyes were full of tears & I was trying to make them stop, I was already embarrassed enough & on the ride to school I stayed silent... in my mind I was thanking God that I had school, that was a place I looked forward to going each day, it made my life of hell livable.
This is only one incident of many I regularly was put thru under her roof. This is a woman who never once apologized, who always put herself first, who treated me like I was nothing but a burden & a piece of crap, who made it a point to let me know how much I wasn't wanted thorough her actions... The good news is, I would go on to graduate high school & be the first one in the family to do so.
Of course she wanted to attend my commencement ceremony to make herself look good, as if the woman who never offered to help or even ask me about one homework assignment in my entire 12 years I attended school, never read me a bed story, tucked me in, or told me she loved me, never even polished my finger nails, yet she had the audacity of course to think she actually had something to do with my graduating...
As I expected, she never bothered to congratulate me... Never offered to take me out to buy a dress to for the occasion.
A friend of hers was to kind & I'll never forget her kindness, she loaned me a dress & she was the only one who gave me a graduation card & when I opened it, there was a $50 bill inside & it made me cry. My own mother couldn't do for me what this woman had & she wasn't even family & all I could feel was this woman, she must know...
To quote my mother in the last note I received...
"You need to forgive me...You have to forgive me"... She knows everything she did was unforgivable & if confronted, she would only produce excuses, she will never own it, or give me the apology I'll never get & the beat goes on still expecting me to say... Oh, sure, me forgiving you, that's at the top of my priority list, just like I was always at the top of her priority list, yup, I'll get right on that....NOT.
I'm a 52 year old woman. Thru counseling, thru reading many self help books, thru women's groups, thru God, prayer, spirituality, thru surrounding myself with positive people, & thru cutting her out if my life I've done much healing & all of those things have of course helped me greatly but, I'm here to say, you don't ever recover completely & fully... there's a part of me that will always be broken so, as far as forgiving her, I don't need to do anything of the sort & I don't buy into the crap about I need to forgive her for myself. I'm fine with leaving it in the past... Her behavior never surprises me at all but, I still find it highly offensive, that after all the years, she STILL has the audacity to only think of herself & then has the nerve to tape it on my door...
Sometimes there just is no talking to, working thru, or mending relationship's like this & I'm not interested in allowing her to have any access to me for the only purpose & reason of serving as & being her narcissistic supply ever again...
This woman is not capable of love & never has been & I certainly won't be wasting any more of mine on her.
Thank you for giving me a place to both vent & share, & to whoever reads this... Know you're not alone but, more importantly know it's okay to do whatever you need too, know that you're worth it,
Love yourself & remember, only someone has not only walked the path but, literally becomes the path, can ever understand what the full magnitude of growing up in such a dysfunction is truly like. And, for those who don't know, please consider yourselves fortunate & save your judgement because you aren't suppose to judge anyone & you'd be swimming in shark infested waters. I'd give anything to have had a half way normal mother & mourning the loss of someone whose still living is more painful than mourning someone whose passed, unfortunately, sometimes that's the way it has to be...