Narcissistic parents engage in twisting reality to meet their needs which misfires to hamper their children in the long run.
Recently in a conversation with my mother, I asked her what love means to her. I remember her sitting inside the slightly darkened cafe we had rushed into, to escape the deadly Indian summer heat, for quite a while before answering.
When she finally did, this is what she said : “When you put someone else before yourself, that’s love.”
It has stuck to my conscious mind and now that, narcissism is the central point of this piece, it’s coming back to me with a greater impact.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are often self-absorbed, self-fulfilling and exhibits such a self-obsession at the cost of others, that the world around them often crumbles.
The behaviour is often exacerbated when such a person becomes a parent. A narcissistic parent often sends their child into a volley of psychological issues that stem essentially from the chaos of not knowing what’s true and what they can believe in.
An unsafe, conditional relationship between such a parent and their child leads to long-term reverberations for the latter, as they grow up and begin to integrate themselves with the world.
What’s perhaps most damaging about a child (and even those who have outgrown that developmental stage) who’s caught in a narcissistic equation, is the perception they develop about themselves. For the fact is that most of what they are told and made to believe come from a narrowed understanding and experience for the narcissistic parent.
And if you’re wondering what the most common ones are, here’s a list.
1. “You’re not good enough”
In a healthy parent-child relationship scenario, the parent plays the part of instilling self-love and self-worth in the child.
In a relationship where the parent is narcissistic, this aspect goes largely missing, for the simple reason that such parents are incapable of emotional holding or connection. Power and attention are all that they are interested in.
Which means that they can send across the “you’re not good enough” message both subtly and loudly. Either way, the child feels like they lack worth inherently and can never match up to anyone, let alone chase their dreams. The message can play out where the parent pits the child against their friends, their siblings or even children seen on TV shows.
The expectations set are unrealistic and the child is somehow made to believe that these standards are natural, and that they should meet them to earn the minimum recognition in their parent’s eyes.