Skip to main content

How a Parent's Narcissistic Personality Disorder Affects Their Child

I am a licensed professional counselor. My practice focus is in general counseling, depression, anxiety, couples, custody issues, and LGBTQ.

Narcissistic Parent Checklist: Signs of Being Raised by a NPD

  1. Children of NPD parents blame themselves. Instead of blaming the parent, a loving child might take on the responsibility for the negativity and sacrifice their self esteem. They begin to believe it's their own fault their parent does not love them, or they hold out hope that by changing themselves, they might earn their parent's love.
  2. They feel invisible. These children may have no sense of themselves or what they want or need. The parent's grandiosity eclipsed the child so completely that it resulted in a person who has no idea who they really are as an individual.
  3. They become so acclimated to narcissism they may either choose narcissistic relationships or avoid relationships entirely. The neglect, abuse, rage, lack of empathy, and emotional games can be so overwhelming they can make a child grow to expect that kind of treatment in all their relationships, develop insecure attachments, or to distrust people and abandon emotional intimacy altogether.
  4. Narcissism breeds codependency, care-taking, low self esteem, guilt, or more narcissism. These children often adapt by either erasing themselves, sacrificing their own needs, developing PTSD, or joining the 'winning' side and becoming narcissists themselves.

The NPD Parent

Young children of a mother or father who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder are genuine victims of their parent and the disorder—as much as any child who lives through life with an addicted parent, or one guilty of physical or sexual abuse. The narcissistic parent abuses in an intensely subtle and devious fashion; they are guilty of severe emotional and mental abuse, and no one outside of the family would ever suspect anything wrong. These child victims quite often go unnoticed, untreated, and unassisted by other adults outside of the immediate family. This is due to the nature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

The overriding behavioral sign of a NPD parent is their almost total lack of concern for their child. On the surface, and in public, the NPD parent is often unnoticeable as an abusive person. Inside the family, there is no doubt for the child that there is something very, very wrong. In some cases, this parent will begin to ‘heat up’ and make mistakes that bring negative attention to them and shine a light on their NPD, but in most cases, the abuse continues for years unabated.

One might consider NPD a kind of spectrum with varying degrees of disorder and behavioral inconsistency. While some NPD adults express their disorder in a fairly mild fashion (think the beauty pageant mom or the dad who pushes his child to do a sport they do not want to do), others are experts at hiding their abuse and are able to manipulate others at will (including teachers, ministers, police, lawyers, and even judges).

Due to the disorder, NPD parents have little to no regard for their child’s individuality, ambitions, or emotions. This parent is quite simply all about themselves, all the time. This is a very difficult concept for most normal people to grasp; it is hard to relate to a parent who has no genuine concern for their child other than how that child can enhance the parent’s image, or how the child can be drawn from as a source of ‘narcissistic supply’. People with NPD consistently look for and groom people by using charm, false interest, and lavish gifts to get them to commit to a relationship. If they have a child, they have a built-in ego-supplier. An individual with NPD absolutely needs to see reactions in the people around them in order to reassure themselves of an identity. And they do not really care what kind of reaction it is, as long as they get a reaction. So the NPD parent will rapidly transform from the most charming, loving, and giving parent on the planet to the most enraged, unfeeling, cruel parent imaginable (think of the film Mommy Dearest).

Young children of a parent who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder are genuine victims of their parent and the disorder—as much as any child who lives through life with an addicted parent, or a parent guilty of physical or sexual abuse.

The Child's Experience of NPD Abuse

People complain about spoiled children, but children really have very little power over their parents. This is even more true in the case of a child with an NPD parent, since that child intimately knows the unpredictability, implied threats, and intense rages that the parent demonstrates. The child learns early in life to ‘duck and cover’ by constantly appeasing the childish whims (that change with the breeze) of the NPD parent. The child becomes terrified that if they speak to anyone outside of the family about their very ill parent, no one will listen or believe them, since the NPD parent is a master of the ‘false face’ in public. Secondarily, the child is terrified that their complaint will get back to the NPD parent, and they will pay a high penalty.

Narcissistic mothers and fathers elicit intense fear in the child in several ways.

  • First, they may tell the child that they have ‘eyes and ears everywhere’ and the child can hide nothing from them. One father of three little girls gave them necklaces that he told them they had to wear at all times, because he had special powers and could see everything the children did through the necklaces. They were terrified to keep them on, and terrified to take them off.
  • Another way that NPD parents incite fear is to make either vague or direct threats to the child that the parent will abandon them, or that the parent will not be able to live if the child is not compliant to the parent’s will. A child naturally loves and wants to please their parent; NPD parents can never be pleased and the child is never good enough.
  • Yet other NPD parents make it clear ‘between the lines’ that if the child should ever be disloyal to the parent, grave and dangerous things will happen, up to an including harm to their non-NPD parent or the child themselves.

The child victims of NPD parents are simply there to supply the parent with admiration and ego-boosting reassurance; the parent needs the child to adore and agree with them always, something that the child gets very skilled at doing when in the presence of the parent. Away from the parent, these children are often depressed, anxious, and morose, as if they have simply given up on being a normal child. While some school counselors or coaches may notice that the child is having difficulty, they may never suspect it is due to NPD abuse, especially if they know the child’s NPD parent. Should the child tell the adult about the parent, the child will instantly be suspected as having some innate emotional or mental health problem; this plays right into the hands of the NPD parent when the school counselor calls for a meeting. The child is then caught in an impossible trap: the child gets diagnosed with the mental health problem.

The personality disordered parent can slip up sometimes, letting their real character show. This might happen when the parent, intent on what they want, creates an embarrassing public scene with the child present. In fact, they will at times use their children as levers in public situations to get others to back down or give them what they want. The witnesses to such public rages will give in just to save the child the intense embarrassment that their parent is willing to put them through.

The child learns that they must set aside the things that are important to them or the things that they would like to do, because it is only what the NPD parent wants that counts. The parent always places their own desires and needs before the child's, often cloaking this fact with an altruistic statement that the parent is just doing what is best for the child. The child has no real choice not to buy into their parent’s plan for them, even if the child has no desire or any real talent for the activity that the parent is forcing them to do. Emotional blackmail is a given. On the other hand, some NPD parents will simply ignore any achievement that the child makes on their own, and may even belittle the achievement in private while taking full credit for the child’s accomplishment in public, if the accomplishment reflects the NPD parent as Parent of the Year.

In private, NPD parents will present to the child as either over-controlling, totally neglectful and angry, or overly kind, giving, and generous. These presentations can alternate in rapid fashion, leaving the child constantly emotionally off balance. This is, in essence, a form of mind control and torture well known to survivors of POW camps. So the child is faced with a very narrow choice of how to respond: they can choose to submit in total compliance (and so lose their identity), wait patiently until they turn eighteen and then get as far from the parent as possible and try to find healing, or through constant exposure and training, become narcissistic adults themselves. The latter child may be treated like a little prince or princess by the parent, at the expense of any other siblings who have chosen a different path of coping.

Narcissistic Injury refers to any threat (whether real or imagined) that the narcissist perceives is being done to their grandiose false-self in any given moment. With every narcissistic injury experienced by the narcissist’s fragile ego, they will exhibit a reflexive urge towards a violent rage.

— Christine Louis de Canonville

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Wehavekids

Maturing and Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents

The normal development of children dictates that they begin to individuate and differentiate as they grow, meaning that they blossom into their unique selves. This normal progress gains momentum as they get older. The NPD parent begins to be very uncomfortable when the child begins to assert their individuality or independence; the parent perceives this as betrayal, disloyalty, or disobedience. Children often realize their parent’s illness fairly early in grade school when they have the chance to compare other children’s parents to their own. As the child gets older, the stress in the family system may grow to intolerable levels.

Some NPD parents can develop a reputation in the community as difficult, at least, and at worst be considered unpredictable and dangerous. NPDs may ‘heat up’ and pose real danger because they view their children (and spouse) as possessions that they are privileged to dispose of should they wish to do so. Many cases of domestic violence and murder can be pinned to an NPD individual.

The truth is, narcissistic parents don’t have children because they want to nurture and guide their offspring through life; they have children so that they have an automatic, built-in relationship in which they have power, one in which the narcissist can write the rules without any checks and balances.

— Seth Meyers, Psy.D.

Separating From an NPD Parent

Even if the non-NPD parent is able gain the upper hand and find assistance to extract themselves from the relationship, the courts often support standard custody agreements. The child, fearing the narcissistic parent, might not speak to counselors, lawyers, or judges about the situation. The disordered parent has proven over and over again that they will not be discovered for what they are, nor will they be prevailed upon or held accountable. The child has no faith that these adults can help. In fact, the narcissistic parent often ‘plays’ the legal system so well that lawyers and judges are taken in and believe the non-NPD parent is exaggerating due to the emotions of the divorce situation. Indeed, the accounts that the non-NPD parent gives of the NPD parent often sound so ‘off the wall’ that a judge has a hard time believing them. The child believes that there is no one in the world that can help them from the narcissistic parent, so will support them publicly.

Clinical counselors are always very hesitant—if not completely avoiding of—treating children involved in custody cases when a parent is perceived to have NPD. Most clinicians will only very rarely publicly identify a person as having a personality disorder, lest the narcissist turns their full wrath on the counselor (meaning hauling them into court to testify or, more often, harass them about their work, competency, etc.). Once again, the narcissistic parent does not really care about the child or what the child needs in terms of therapeutic support, only that the narcissistic parent might be able to use the counselor against the non-NPD parent and make themselves look better in court.

Judicial Intervention

Ultimately, true intervention for the child can only come from the court system, as this is the only institution that a narcissist respects and fears. Again, the problem is that judges often miss the fact that one of the parents they are dealing with has this personality disorder. In addition, it is often very difficult to demonstrate emotional and mental abuse, since the nature of the relationship with the NPD parent prohibits the child from speaking honestly to the judge, and the non-NPD parent is most assuredly being considered biased. Since few, if any, counselors are willing to testify about the abuse and place themselves in the path of a narcissist, the court is left to discern these things on its own. By learning the many characteristic behavioral clues that NPDs inevitably leave in a wide trail behind them, custody courts can begin to identify and then make valuable interventions for children with NPD parents.

If a court were to provide for a moratorium on the child’s contact with the NPD parent, it could give the child enough time to begin the healing process and gain courage to enter counseling treatment in a fashion that can be genuinely helpful. In addition, the court would need to provide greater protection for the counselor from being called into court and testifying (which effectively destroys the therapeutic relationship with the child into the future) so that they can do their jobs and help the child recover and generate coping mechanisms for dealing with their NPD parent more effectively.

How NPD Will Effect Divorce and Custody

In a nutshell: Expect a fight. Because in order to stoke their grandiose and inflated ego, the narcissist will enter divorce court and custody battles intending to win at any cost. A no-holds-barred, dirty, bloody battle will be unpleasant for everyone, but especially for the child who will be manipulated and used as a pawn to win and inflict maximum emotional damage.

It might help your case if you kept a journal documenting exchanges or a folder full of emails and screengrabs of text messages. Get an attorney who has experience with personality disorders and knows what to expect.

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.

© 2013 William E Krill Jr

Comments

Neha Rohra from India on August 22, 2020:

Your article is very substantial about what it is like.

Person "xyz" 's father was an alcoholic who only abused her mother when fights got intense, never the children, though abusing the mother was decidedly wrong. The mother was a narcissist who scapegoated the child by interfering at slightest and lying that a room is not possible for the adult child while building other properties. Left the child without physical boundaries of a room for years, letting him live in Hall, in sister s room, in her own room on rotational basis each day so to leave her open to control and rip off personal power. Breaking independence, esp when adult child is physically ill and mentally low on energy, and acting hero by doing for her in public that too spending on random useless things not issues of significance. When she escaped to build her own life without blaming them narcissists outside tried to take advantage. She met one full blown ASPD violent pitbull or cobra man but walked out soon and didn't suffer permanent damage but worked on privacy, putting physical boundaries and reclaiming personal power gradually over time.

Sharing link to my article below: https://discover.hubpages.com/family/Getting-past-...

cable-bunny8 on March 25, 2020:

I don't want to just assume this is what my mother has..or is, honestly I don't know what to think. all I know is that a lot of what was written in the article is painfully familiar.

right now I have only recently begun to realize just how twisted/selfish she can be and I'm ashamed it took me 21 years..

Hi, my name is Katherine and I guess my mother has NPD? I never really noticed anything due to my two half sisters constant abuse since I was 7. I've recently lost a job due to a foolish mistake on my part and as such have been limited in my funds. at the start of my unemployment i asked her if we could slow down with purchases until I could find a job and her response was to socially blackmail me into making purchases. I put my foot down on the matter and she had a fit.. this happened over a month ago an now a few days ago she tried to get me to log into my bank account on her computer after so she could prove I had money to pay for things. normally I am not allowed to do anything but clean and do activities that she wants to do. I have been told I am addicted to technology when in actuality I am alone and desperate to talk to my boyfriend who lives out of state. she has taken away my phone, laptops, and tablet. (all of which I rightfully own) and forbidden me from using the home phone to contact them. yesterday I was able to convince her to give my laptop back for the purpose of schooling. I can no longer take living with her and every day her voice becomes like nails on a chalk board to me... even if she hasn't said anything wrong... I feel selfish for being like that but if she is just going to continue waving away my mental and physical health .. than I feel absolutely no regret in leaving her in the dead of the night.

I hate her for being the way she is and I hate myself for being so blind to her.

I only hope I can prove to do better by my future children if I ever manage to have that blessing...

sorry for the inconsistent rambling.. I just.. really need to vent out my rage for my situation.. having no outlets like art, writing, music, or communication has proven to be difficult..

Thank you for listening;

I wish you the best of luck in your future.

Mim on December 15, 2019:

So my mother and father were married for 27 years. He left her after she had a newborn for the air force, to which he enlisted without telling her. He criticized her every day, he spent all of her money, they had three more children, each of which he was obsessed with as a child, but when we got older, forming our own opinions and words, he got harsher and harsher. He missed my tenth birthday for a business trip, which I later found out was a trip to Spain with his mistress. He screamed at me in front of tons of relatives at the Thanksgiving dinner table when I was ten. When my sister was sixteen, he banged on her locked door threatening to kill her. My mom didn't know these stories, and if she did, she said he was hurt as a child and he really did love us. She spent nearly every night crying. Every day was tense and fearful. My brother became the boy who never left his room, and rarely ever spoke. My dad started never coming home, and when he did, my siblings and I had a group chat where we asked why he was there and we hid in our rooms. Finally my mom had to take action. She hired a private investigator and found out he was having an affair. For 32 years my mother was blinded by hope, and in one day everything she'd chosen to see was shattered into the truth. She filed divorce papers and she and I ran from our house with our dog (my older siblings had already moved out). Unfortunately, I was and still am a minor. So while all of these horrible stories are true, my father is a narcissist. So he continues to fight. He doesn't want a relationship with me. For years he has never known who I am, not since I was seven. Now, divorced and living with his girlfriend and her children, he claims he was always around, always wanting to be with me. None of it is true. He's fighting to win, he's fighting to take everything from my mother, because it is his nature. Nothing will ever be enough for him. It is his way or no way. But we are winning. As hard as it is. I was doing well and our last supervised meeting with a Catholic therapist he snapped again, screaming at me. While I held my ground, my heart pounded and I wanted to run. This is probably the worst part. The fact that he still has power over me. But all of it is bad. I don't want to write how I feel for the therapist, even though it helps our case should we ever go to court. I fear the day when I turn eighteen and leave him behind, I fear he'll come after me. Because his anger is unhinged. My brother fears he will come after him every day. It's distorted. But I'm trusting. I'm trusting God, I'm trusting his plan, and I'm trusting our father cares for us in some distorted small strange far away way. Because he is incapable of love. But we are his children. I know no one wishes to hear my story, but I've read each of yours. While we don't know each other, we're not all together, we're not all in the same scenarios, and the same ages, I feel we are in this together. I believe in each of you and you are all in my hearts. We can get through this, and if you've been through it already, you are my heroes. These narcissists are only people, and we have to remember that. They are powerless desperate for power. We recognize who they are, and that is 90% of our power. I'm thinking and praying for each of you, and I hope your day of winning is near, and if it's already come, that you are healing and glad to have the negativity out of your life. I know I feel better simply writing this out, even if no one has the diligence to read it, which I'd completely understand. To surviving and living better, no matter how old you may be when it happens :)

Anth Ashta on September 16, 2019:

I grew up with a dad who was NPD and a single parent after my Mum turned to Alcohol and left him and the marriage shortly after i was born ..i was the youngest and only boy and with 3 older sisters .. i dont have many early childhood memories at all up until the age of 4 or 5 and maybe i was already blocking out the emotional trauma of abandonment and coming to terms that growing up was not going to be easy ... My first day at junior school age 5-6 years was probably my first experience of PTSD and my Dad taking me to the school entrance doors and with a firm push he thrust me into the classroom full with kids all looking relaxed and excited with there parents there and i remember every fibre in my body sank to the floor and the overwhelming realization i was very much alone in the world ...My Dad had no emotional capacity to show anything remotely supportive and instead he used his NPD as the way to control and manipulate fear and the threat of violence should i or my sisters disobey his word

Alice Lanham on May 19, 2019:

I wish I had known more about NPD when I was younger. I might have been able to help my late husband in dealing with his mother.

Danielle on February 25, 2019:

I know my father is a narrsisist (idk if I spelled that right but) I knew from the start and I had to learn how to get around this world and I’m still a teenager and whenever I see another of my friends fathers or a random father...I smile but I feel like there going to yell at me or get mad... because there a father and that’s how I’ve always saw my father... as someone who hates who I am and wants to punish me for what I do wrong.

MissChevious on January 27, 2019:

This is exactly what i am experiencing and have been for 5yrs by my sons father. I have cried out for support but due to having depression and anxiety no one will listen and help me stop anymore damage to my kids. My ex lives elsewhere but his traits have rubbed Off on my 8yr old son who nów is abusive towards my daughter and myself daily and will not listen to me at all making me a target for Childrens Services and my ex thrives in it making him worse. My Health is rock bottom and i have no support. Anyone have any suggestions as im struggling to function.

carylrand@att.net on January 03, 2019:

Perfect description of my childhood.....

lost cause on October 19, 2018:

i can't find legal help filing a case against my mother for extensive PTSD and other psychological damages. i can't make friends that want me around more than a day. i can't be around people who have families. this is a serious civil justice issue and it should be cased and filed with the ACLU immediately to prevent suicides

sherree link on September 25, 2018:

what ive just read is my mother and i have been a victim everything you said there about the child feeling in visable and the frist four paragraphs are me totally ive now begun to have the narctistic disorder my self and im going to get the help i need to beat this and get my life back

Camilo on September 24, 2018:

Hi, Thank you for this article, I'm now more than sure that my father is very narcissistic and might even have NPD, there are a lot of factors and little details that make me believe this, belittling achievements, criticizing my self esteem and my lack of it weirdly enough, belittling my career choices and accomplishments and my career as a whole too, attacking my personal appearance my sexual preference or lack of libido, controlling the love he gives depending if the situation makes him look good, a plethora of physical and emotional abuse that has been going on since I was 5 or 6 now at 24 I can finally realize that this kind of people are not worth to have in your life, not emotionally, not monetarily, not in any way, I'm infinitely grateful to my grandparents, uncles and all of my family and friends that did give me love and unconditional support even though I was completely dependent of his approval and his love, it's sad to know that a true father/son relationship with him can't happen, no matter how hard I try to.

I hope that everyone who feels the same has the strength to cut those people from their lives in whatever non-violent means, and I hope that I can find the strength to heal and bring healthy relationships in whatever life leads me to.

To anyone passing through this struggles, you can do it, you can say that you have had enough and you can chose to change and to be a positive influence in the world.

Have faith in yourself, you and you alone can change this for the better.

EFB on September 20, 2018:

Hi, I just read your article... I am currently in family court. I ran away from a 12 year relationship and took the kids. My ex is narcessistic but got a clean bill of health from his psych, which i expected. Since january i have spent 50.000 dollars (my mums whole nestegg... ) on lawyers... with no outcome to property, spousal maintenance or children. He is not disclosing information. My previous counsellor said once to me:" better to stay in the relationship... its safer... if you try and leave, he will destroy you..." right he was. He was the only person that provided me with a snippet of support on paper... he had to resign over it... 20 years of career... down the drain. I am at the point where i consider to return the kids... i know they would be safe and cared for and as long as i stay away, the kids (8 and 10) would be fine. He wants full custody or me to return and have shared care. He doesnt really want full custody... too much work. He only ever had the kids one week by himself and it was too much. If i offer it and he doesnt take the offer, he will have to answer to the judge, which would be difficult. Its a gamble... but i cant see a way out. We have been living in campervans on a property that is now for sale. The amenities and living standard is not suitable for kids. I cant get public housing because i am entitled to property i dont have. He is not paying child support... i am unable to gain empliyment and spend days and nights fighting one thing or the other he put on me, 2 appeals with admin appeals tribunal, trying to fight unfair settlement and get the orders put on hold... trying to talk sense into my lawyer that he is not your dumb ass stupid father that doesnt know what he is doing. . He knows very well... strategically undermining me to the point i have nothing left and am run into the ground... looking crazy and the kids get taken anyway... i dont know... any advice? Thank you kindly... E

Mark W on September 11, 2018:

Very grateful for your sharing of knowledge. I took way too many years to realise the workings of my narcissistic parents but I won’t blame myself - better late than never. The damage that NPD does to families cannot be overstated. Best wishes for your ongoing studies.

April on September 10, 2018:

This article is spot on, unfortunately. Extremely difficult, heartbreaking, and draining dealing with a narcissist. And the children caught in the middle, my heart hurts for them all

Kim Belair-Prevost on September 07, 2018:

I would like to know how deal with a narcissist in my life, I befriended a woman and her and her ex husband and ALL his and her families are ALL narcissistic, they are trying to manipulate me and put me in the middle of their fights, the ex husband and his cousin just recently emailed her and have been threatening her with her children, her home (homeless), her life and also called her some really bad names and told her to KILL herself, I want something done, this is upsetting and unsettling to say the least, this type of disruptive behaviour should not be or should be tolerated!!!!

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on August 27, 2018:

Working on a book I hope to publish by the and of this year on this very subject called "Relational Aikido: the Art of Peaceful War With a Personality Disorder.

Karen Cornelius on August 26, 2018:

Loved this article Mr. Krill! But I was a little disappointed that you didn't mention how the child of a narcissist would or could heal?

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on August 08, 2018:

We have begun to offer distance consulting/coaching for victims of pathological relationships. Get more info at: Gentling.org

KristiMay on June 21, 2018:

Very accurate. The truth hurts. The Narcissistic personality disordered parent has the upper hand, if they have the qualities of a covert NPD. Add antisocial personality disorder/sociopathy and it seems like the ultimate hell on earth for you and your child/children. Every type of abuse, including sexual, has occurred. She's only 6. He still won, until now. Find an experienced attorney is the key... Experience with a lot of motivation and fearlessness is a must. I found that many attorneys didn't seem that interested in my case. They were scared. I had one attorney tell me it would cost $30,000 to $40,000. I'm hanging in there, but it's hard. Every single person of authority in this area has stabbed us in the back and refused to help my daughter. It's the worst feeling I've ever experienced. I haven't done anything wrong that I haven't taken responsibly for. It's terrible to see this happen.

cloakanddagger on June 17, 2018:

I knew something was wrong with my mother when I was in my early teens, but I could not have vocalized what it was, only, in my own words that she was "crazy." My father seemed to share that sentiment, but I had to be very careful of what I said to him within my own house for fear of being overheard and paying the price. Even outside, to the two psychiatrists and one counselor that my mother bundled me off to, because I was "damaged goods" I could say little, for fear a comment made for therapeutic reasons would come back to haunt me. I lived in fear, the Iron curtain had not fallen, gestapo wandered the streets, and the very walls had ears. A single comment made in the heat of the moment could send my mother into these spastic rages. she even tried to dictate what i should do with my life.

-Shit

Adavs on June 15, 2018:

As I read this very interesting article it described my ex-wife to a tee, as if it was written about her.

My three adult children have decided they no longer want to be part of my life. I always suspected the ex was the root cause now I am absolutly sure of it. She offers them things conditionally only if they do not talk or intereact with me. She is evil.

Thank you

Thank you

NerdyGalArt on May 27, 2018:

This was the BEST description I have come across regarding narcissistic parents. Most out there, including books, have left me 90% sure that my adoptive parents and sons father are extremely narcissistic but never sure. I don’t know if i wasn’t willing to accept it but the mental anguish that has accompanied my life has had so much ambiguity attached and it was never 100% clear until I read this. Outstanding job to the author for laying it out and providing in depth examples (i.e. latter children are often treated differently in high regard) that allow me to realize it wasn’t me and start to heal. Thanks and much love to anyone who has been a victim of a narcissistics sick tendencies.

AudiAngel on May 01, 2018:

I am a victim of it but did not see it until I was in my late 20's and I am also a narcissist. I have three teenage kids and I am working on recognizing the behavior but never thought I would end up as my mother who was heavily in the illness of NPD. I hid most of my fears and depression of self doubt through alcohol and drugs, and when push came to shove got 2 my kids removed by DCFS. My first husband is also one as we tend to attract what we think we deserve. he now has full legal custody and physical to my NPD mother. My kids are now living with my mother and her Illness and have not spoken to me in almost a year. It is my time to identify my behavior and how it affected my kids.

I do have love and empathy but for years if you were to tell me I was wrong or point out my character defects and was easily angered. I walked away from the toxic NPD and walked her back into my life and kids life with my abuse of alcohol. I have been in classes and following court orders, but the hurt sends me into spirals as I have in the past seen my kids as an extension of me and tried to control their life lessons instead of guiding.

I am posting this to everyone reading as to see if there are any classes or books that people know about in order to change and redirect my behavior as I did not want to be the abuser since I know how it feels to lived my entire life abused.

Em Susanna on April 18, 2018:

This article has shined so much light on my current and past situation. My case unfortunately, is an extreme one having both parents with NPD, as well as my older sister, in addition to experiencing all forms of abuse, with the exception of sexual, at the hands of all three. Growing up I was led to believe it was my father who was the sole abuser, making me look up to my mother as the “protector” in the family. Growing up, I often compared my family to others who were so obviously loving and affectionate. This created confusion at a very young age, where I began begging to be allowed to speak to someone as I always felt a little off. My mother would always tell me “to stop feeling sorry for myself” or “if you tell anyone about your father, I’ll be the one to suffer”. This forced me to live in constant fear, where I never let on that something was wrong at home, and taught me to never speak up and be honest with my feelings. As I grew older the abuse from my father began shifting mainly on to me as I was often the scapegoat for my family. My little brother is highly intelligent and my sister can do no wrong. Leaving me as the trouble child. I was in a constant state of trying to pretend I didn’t feel as hopeless, depressed, and fearful with everyone I met, as well as myself. I was never allowed to be a normal kid, constantly being abused for simple mistakes almost all kids my age make. When I began realizing I needed to stick up for myself because no one else was, I was abused severely anytime I’d open my mouth, followed by being kicked out into the cold with nowhere to go. Fortunately, I found a few people that supported me during these times, helping me maintain some sanity. Because of the abuse I suffered by my father, I wasn’t truly aware that my mother and sister were equally abusive as they often manipulated me, claiming that either my father was the problem, or that I was either too sensitive or too reckless. Often when being abused by father, my mother would hold me down or prevent me from leaving by standing in front of the door preventing any form of escape. My sister would also join in, verbally and emotionally abusing me all while I was being physically abused by my father. This broke me almost everytime, where I began to just lay down and take it hoping it would end sooner if I didn’t fight it. This only led to their belief that I was born solely to be their punching bag and scapegoat, leading my sister to direct her delusions and physical aggression towards me. Even with all the abuse, I still just wanted what everyone I knew had; a family that loved me. Hoping as time went on they would see and regret how they’d tortured me, I tried my best to please them. I worked like a slave for them, I would be there for my mom whenever she needed to vent, I would eat lunch with my sister everyday at school because she had no friends, hoping she would see I cared about her. All of this was disregarded, and when I was upset I’d be called selfish, a bitch, a cow, really any possible insult you could think of. When it eventually came time to go to college I decided to go into nursing as I wanted to prove to everyone I really am empathetic, selfless, intelligent, and capable of something. When I moved away things were okay because they couldn’t physically abuse me, however inevitably I entered into a severely abusive relationship. My mother was aware of this abuse and would do everything she could to keep me in the relationship, which I stayed in for 3 years. Both my mother and he convinced me he was taking care of me, and I became extremely dependent on him. Eventually I got out after he almost killed me, and when I was desperate for support to gain confidence to charge him my mother tried convincing me that he was crazy enough that he’d hurt her or my dogs if I did. Luckily, I had enough of being a victim and living in fear and I charged him, where of course my mother became angry that I didn’t listen to her. I was not truly aware at the time that she and my sister were actually abusive and not just suffering side effects of abuse themselves, leading me to move in with them. Again I did this to help my aging mother as my sister was diagnosed with a critical illness and I have the knowledge and skills to relieve the stress and care for my sister. This only fuelled their beliefs that my sole purpose in this world was to serve them. I would be up 3 times a night for about an hour each time, lasting 2.5 years, to make sure my sister was okay and then wake up and go to clinical or school. I also stopped eating and lost immense amount of weight because I couldn’t work to afford food and any food in the house I would be physically or emotionally attacked for trying to eat. The most recent time was 2 weeks ago, leading me to move back with my dad and brother. I had tried getting something to eat as I hadn’t eaten in 3 days and thought I was dying, and my sister started choking me. My mother stood by of course until I fought back and then joined in on attacking me. They then proceeded to call the police and constructed a story that I was mentally unstable as I am seeing a counsellor. As police are incompetent when it comes to the indicators of true mental illness they played into my mothers story and made extremely judgemental comments like “there’s always someone in the family who thinks they’re a victim”. That made me lose all hope in their ability to protect me. They called the police on me 4 times in 2 days because they knew if I was arrested I would never become a nurse and in turn gain independence. The police had me removed from the house “to keep the peace” as they viewed everything I tried explaining as irrational and everything my mother and sister were saying as potentially true. As soon as I left, they then called again telling them I was going to kill myself to have me admitted to a mental facility. They were hoping if they had me admitted everyone would be convinced I was unstable, but unfortunately for them my sister had been previously diagnosed by the same psychiatrist with a personality disorder during one of her hospital stays for her gastroparesis. Of course they didn’t hold me because they understood I was not the problem. Simply telling me I should just get out of the toxic situation and move on, as if it was as easy at that. I then began packing my stuff up to move once I got back and my sister of course physically attacked me again throwing a glass at my head and stating to my mother “I was really hoping it would just kill her”. I’ve been out of the house for 2 weeks now and they are now trying to convince my brother who is very supportive of me that they are fearful of me and that everything I say is a lie, while also creating elaborate stories to label me as unstable, physically aggressive, a thief, and not to be trusted. However, my brother is very similar to me and truly understands how I’m feeling and often tries sticking up for me. This just fuels my mothers anger and slander towards me, where she then plays childish games with him in hopes he’ll turn against me.

Even after all of this, I still just want them to love me and see me for the caring and selfless person I am but I realize now things will never get better and I won’t be able to achieve that normal life with them that I’ve tried so hard to have. I feel like I’m grieving because I know I’ll never change how they feel about me and I know I’ll never stop loving them even though they’ve tortured me my entire life and will continue to do so. I just want to hear my mom say she loves me and she’s sorry at least once but I know it won’t happen unless it’s to just draw me back in so they don’t lose their scapegoat.

Winney George on March 31, 2018:

A very spot on article,My father had NPD and I married and divorced a NPD. It has only been in the past 5 years that I have come To learn about NPD. It is both freeing and heartbreaking,some days there’s so much to deal with that I truly just want to give up. My children are in their early 20’s both have tried to commit suicide, and have been struggling with drug addictions. I wish things could have been different for all of us, the aftermath of NPD is something we will all suffer from. I know first hand how the NPD parent and spouse plays the “your crazy” and what a fight it is. And while my life has been filled with many battles I will continue to stand up for my children and myself. In hopes that someday a greater population will understand the depth of abuse that a person with NPD inflicts.

I on March 29, 2018:

It's been a long process but I've finally cut off my NPD husband. Unfortunately I can't go 100% no contact because we have a son. He was most displeased when I blocked all forms of communication and arranged a third party to do drop offs. He ended up sending me a letter lecturing me about good parenting and patting himself on the back for his surface level parenting achievements whilst subtly pointing out all my failures. It didn't feel like the letter was really for me. It felt like it was written for a wider audience to make himself look like an awesome dad and make me look like an awful mother. It felt like a threat to me. I stupidly took the bait and confronted him about it. Of course that's exactly what he wanted, he wanted to see me in distress. I am so worried for my son. His daughter from a previous relationship attempted suicide at 13 and he wasn't at all interested in addressing it. He never questioned it and has never once tried talking to her about it. He's so emotionally shallow it's scary.

D on March 19, 2018:

I have recently been enlightened. Grew up with an NPD parent. My situation may be a little unique, I work with mine. Everything came to light fairly recently. This is the most mind boggling realization I have ever had. In my 30’s and so many things are making sense. But it’s a daily struggle.

Graham Crowe on March 18, 2018:

This resonates with me completely. I am the youngest of 4, with our father being the one with NPD. I am researching the effects on the adult children; mainly differential parenting due to narcissism and its effects on the adult children. Please write me privately if you want to tell how you have been treated differently from your siblings, and if you struggle with depression/anxiety that you feel is a direct result of your upbringing by a NPD parent. w0046733@nscc.ca Thanks!

Xyz on March 14, 2018:

18 years later my life makes sense.

mateo on March 12, 2018:

Oh , and I attempted suicide twice and he never cried once when he saw me.....but he'll cry over the two dogs I had to put down for health reasons. Life is something else.

mateo on March 12, 2018:

My father would attend other younger peoples sporting events which were miles away but would never come to my stuff which was walking distance. Whenever we played, it always had to be serious for him and if I would suffer a severe injury he would ask to finish the game through shootout. He took my to CBS news stations so he could use the carpool lane, and once there he accused them the government was harassing him (though I didn't know that was the reason at the time). He then shut off the cellphone when my mom and sister tried reaching me. He doesn't care to watch things with he family if he doesn't like it. He'll cut the grass in hot weather before doing the dishes for his wife before she comes home. He retired in his 30's and receives disability for thinking the government won't let him get a job. He told my the books are read are crap. He still doesn't know what illness I've been dealing with for 2 years and not once has he bothered to help me fight it. He told me to stay away from a lady he never met. He receives advice from others but not us even if it was the exact same thing. Even if the household is struggling financially he'll still buy his pop scicles and keep direct tv. That's just the tip. I have trained myself to forget things for the sake of sanity.