Did you have a narcissistic Parent?
We can often grow up through childhood with a feeling that something isn’t right. Yet, we don’t have the awareness or understanding to know what’s wrong. Sometimes we can accept behaviour from those around us that we shouldn’t have accepted as we grew up with that behaviour, so we believe it to be normal, we can make excuses for others, even though we wouldn’t behave in that way towards another, we can think oh my dad did that, my mum did that, not realising it was wrong. We can end up with a narcissistic partner because one or both parents were narcissistic, only once we’ve had enough of the pain, choose to step away from that pain, start to connect the dots, do we begin to understand all of that we didn’t understand in our childhood.
A narcissistic parent conditions you to accept conditional love as normal. ￼
It could have been that every single aspect of your childhood controlled by your narcissistic parent, or you were ignored entirely like you didn’t even exist, you might have felt like you couldn’t do right for doing wrong, that everything that went wrong within your family was somehow your fault, or your parents pushed their dreams onto you, they might have tried and lived through you, pushing their hobbies and interests onto you and not allowing you to learn your own strengths, passions, goals.
When you’re growing up, you look up to your parents as role models, and if they were narcissistic, you most likely developed coping mechanisms to survive.
So what is the difference between a narcissistic parent and a genuine parent?
Most parents do want the best for their children, most are proud, and most think their children are beautiful. Most will discipline their children, most like to show off about their children, and most do have grumpy days, that may result in snapping at their children. This is normal.
The most common signs your parent was a narcissist is they denied you the right to be yourself, to discover who you are, they have a lack of empathy for you or how you feel, you felt misunderstood by them like you had to win their approval.
Signs you grew up with a narcissistic parent.
Preoccupation with their ideal. ￼Setting goals on the basis of gaining attention or approval from those around them. ￼
A narcissist can put more effort into impressing a stranger than caring for their own family.
Was the image outside the family home always perfect, yet inside was completely different?
Did you feel like a possession that was publicly paraded if you did well or an embarrassment that what criticised, belittled and taunted if you didn’t do as your parent wanted? ￼
Did you have to enjoy the same hobbies as them just to spend time with them?
The Selfishness in the narcissistic parent can leave you feeling like your needs are always ignored, feelings of unimportance.
Requires excessive attention.
They went all out to give you the best birthday ever. However, it was all about them doing one better than the neighbours, showing others what an amazing parent they are, the birthday they wanted for you, not the birthday you wanted. You were expected to be eternally grateful. They didn’t do it for you. They did it to throw it in your face with those “after all I’ve done for you.” To create feelings of obligation within you. Or because they weren’t the centre of attention, they went all out to ruin special occasions, with their silent treatments, sulks, passive-aggressive behaviour, as soon as they brought everyone else down, they’d be ok, often asking, “What’s your problem.” And if you were to tell them it’s them, you’d get the victim play of “oh, I knew it would be my fault.” Or the obligation of “After all I’ve done for you.”
Did they always take you to the doctors for issues you didn’t know you had? Or did they brush any illness to one side, not getting you the right help and support?
Would they always take the credit for your achievements?
The Competition, the narcissistic parent, creates can leave you feeling like you’re never enough, growing up to do very little as you don’t feel enough or overextend yourself to feel good enough.
Lack of empathy.
Did they never seem to take your thoughts, feelings or opinions on board?
Did they deny you love and affection unless you earned it?
You could never share your thoughts or feelings, as they would be used against you?
Did they always guilt trip you?
Always spoke of their problems with you but never listened to yours?
Were you always ignored, the forgotten child? The golden child that always had to perform for your parent or the scapegoat always being blamed?
Did they point out others mistakes and boast about people’s downfalls.
The narcissist’s lack of empathy can leave you feeling like your feelings aren’t valid, feeling misunderstood, not wanting to speak of your feelings with others, for fear of judgment, as they often were dismissed or invalidated by the narcissistic parent.
Did they have an unreasonable demand that others should conform to their way, and they are deserving of special treatment?
A belief they should not be made to wait? They didn’t think they should have to queue up for things, and if they did, they became very impatient.
Did they think they can turn up late, and everyone should be instantly grateful they turned up at all?
Where were they never wrong? Would they twist everything to blame you? Did they never apologise?
The entitlement of the parent can leave you feeling like you are not important. Learning to place your needs below all others.
Did they always criticise you and put you down?
Were you insulted continuously by your parents, humiliated in front of friends and family?
Did they talk badly of others, hold grudges? Complaining often about life not going their way.
Did you feel like your parent was always competing with you?
Did it seem like it was one rule for them, another for everyone else, like common rules don’t apply to them? Do as I say, not as I do?
Where the selfish? Lacked consideration for your thoughts and feelings?
Were they stubborn? Determined to have everything their way, a refusal to budge once they’ve made their mind up? Unwilling to listen to others points of view?
Were you left feeling like you just couldn’t do anything right?
Were you Gaslighted and controlled by your parent?
Did they always lie, manipulate and try to control you?
Did they control aspects of your life that didn’t need to be controlled? Did your parents just regularly come into your bedroom, over anything and everything, looking through your things? Never giving you any privacy?
Only interested in things that suited them?
Did they deliberately break things you owned?
Did they punish you harshly for any mistakes? If you said anything to them about them that they didn’t like, did they smack you, or scream at you, humiliate you, pull you down.
Did you feel like you had to parent your own parent, taking care of them, comfort them, not just because they were under the weather but most of the time?
Did they have one personality around you and another around their friends or your friends if you were allowed people into your home? Did others ever see the side to your parent that you could see, the side that made you feel uncomfortable?
If you’re a people pleaser, it might just be because you were raised by a narcissist. Do you feel shame or guilt? Always try your best so that all others like you, as you were trained to accept conditional love. You might have always felt empty inside, like you don’t deserve happiness, you might have trust issues, you may find your emotions hard to deal with. You might find it difficult to say no to people, creating and enforcing boundaries, little self-worth and self-love if you felt this way growing up. Into adulthood, you may have always had to defend yourself from your parents, often doubting the reality around them. This could be because you had a narcissistic parent.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.
Recovery from a narcissistic mother.