Why does it matter if a parent is a narcissist? How does that hurt a child?
You may be asking these questions if you are a person co-parenting with a narcissistic ex; someone raised by a narcissistic parent; one who is in a relationship with a narcissist; or maybe a divorce professional working on a case that involves a narcissistic parent. Given my research and clinical experience, I want to provide some education and awareness about how this disorder hurts children.
First, let me explain that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is misunderstood when applied to someone who is just boastful, arrogant, and all about themselves. While these traits are annoying and not fun to be around, narcissism is a deeper, more destructive disorder that has devastating effects on the people in relationships with the individual. It’s a difficult disorder to treat; many believe it is untreatable. The cornerstones of the disorder are a lack of empathy and the inability to tune into the emotional world of others.
So how does narcissistic parenting affect children?
30 Ways In Which Narcissist Parenting Affects A Child
1. The child won’t feel heard or seen.
2. The child’s feelings and reality will not be acknowledged.
3. The child will be treated like an accessory to the parent, rather than a person.
4. The child will be more valued for what they do (usually for the parent) than for who they are as a person.
5. The child will not learn to identify or trust their own feelings and will grow up with crippling self-doubt.
6. The child will be taught that how they look is more important than how they feel.
7. The child will be fearful of being real, and will instead be taught that image is more important than authenticity.
8. The child will be taught to keep secrets to protect the parent and the family.
9. The child will not be encouraged to develop their own sense of self.
10. The child will feel emotionally empty and not nurtured.
11. The child will learn not to trust others.
12. The child will feel used and manipulated.
13. The child will be there for the parent, rather than the other way around, as it should be.
14. The child’s emotional development will be stunted.
15. The child will feel criticized and judged, rather than accepted and loved.
16. The child will grow frustrated trying to seek love, approval, and attention to no avail.
17. The child will grow up feeling “not good enough.”
18. The child will not have a role model for healthy emotional connections.
19. The child will not learn appropriate boundaries for relationships.
20. The child will not learn healthy self-care but instead will be at risk of becoming codependent (taking care of others to the exclusion of taking care of self).
21. The child will have difficulty with the necessary individuation from the parent as he or she grows older.
22. The child will be taught to seek external validation versus internal validation.
23. The child will get a mixed and crazy-making message of “do well to make me proud as an extension of the parent, but don’t do too well and outshine me.”