A parent-child relationship can go through several tensions in life.
These tensions occur naturally as a child grows up and experiences a new world, and the parents do their best, as and when necessary, to provide adequate guidance in a busy and rapidly evolving modern world.
When a tension takes longer than a certain amount of time, it is no longer considered a phase, but rather, a lifestyle.
This is precisely one of the major characteristics of narcissistic parenting: tensions that accompany such behaviors are so deeply integrated into the parent-child relationship that they have become an integral part of the relationship’s identity and define the way the relationship is built.
In short, this relationship becomes like a curse that haunts the children of narcissistic parents for life.
Simply put, this parenting style contributes to pumping up the ego of the parents, and feeds on the misery of their children. Narcissistic parents receive an extreme satisfaction in the pressures that they cause.
- You are the voice in the mind of your child
- What is REALLY going on in your toddler’s mind
- My secret tool for parenting toddlers (without losing it)
- I survived a royal tantrum and I live to tell the tale
So… what is narcissistic parenting behavior and how can one recognize it?
Below are five characteristics that distinguish this type of behavior.
One major characteristic of narcissistic parents is that they like to do things their own way, and leave little room for negotiation. For this, they can shift from being extremely soft, attentive and caring, reflecting the image of loving parents, to being selfish, careless and inconsiderate tyrants in a matter of seconds.
Narcissistic parents are great manipulators of other people’s feelings and emotions.
Their conversations are constantly centered on the love and dedication they provide to their families, promoting the image of perfect caregivers.
This comes in handy when the children, confronted by their parents’ harassing demands, seek support from family members and friends, only to find themselves facing disapproval for not being patient towards such loving parents. After all, who would reject so much care and devotion?
To make things worse, the mood swings of narcissistic parents happen only privately. The moment of transformation is chosen meticulously at a time when no witnesses are around. In this way, the parents can maintain their public image, while the children sink deeper into a world of frustration.
It comes naturally to say that such dramatic people require attention, and when they do not have enough of it, they know how to manipulate the people around them to reach their objectives.
No matter what the conversation is about or who they may be sitting with, at one point or another, those parents will make sure that they bring the attention back to them. Whether it is a work success story, a special event, a humoristic parenting moment, a travel plan, or a cooking drama, these parents always find a way to put themselves at the center of the story.
They are super-humans who have been everywhere, who have seen it all, and who know it all. In other words, they like to be perceived as a source of influence and knowledge by others.
Their desire for attention is so strong that they could interrupt a conversation, change a topic, or even stand in the middle of a room to make a small speech in order to bring the conversation back to them. Of course, the topics that they choose for such intrusions are always related to their public image, reminding the universe what great parents they are.
This method does nothing more than dig a deeper hole in the parent-child relationship.
Blaming the child
With narcissistic parents, everything needs to go exactly as envisioned in their minds. In the event that a plan does not take the desired direction, someone needs to be blamed for this failure.
That “someone” is usually the child.
Similar to the mood swings and the accompanying dramatic behaviors, this blame game is done privately. Parents make sure that no audience is present, so that they can subtly blame their children for whatever went wrong.
After all, it is only because they love their children so much that they worked for so long, sacrificed their passions, slept late last night, shopped for so many clothes, were not able to attend certain events, etc.
The rationale, which does not seem obvious at first, behind the causes and consequences is delicately manipulated in the child’s mind, pushing the child to believe that the parents only meant the best.
Narcissistic parents are so wrapped up in themselves that jealousy becomes the core motivator of their behavior. They can be jealous of anyone and at anytime.
It is as though they have a void inside of them that never seems to be filled.
With this, their entire social circle functions around how they compare to others and how they are perceived by others. The more recognition supporting their desired public image (the image of the loving parent) they receive, the more lenient they are in approving a friendship with a person that grants them that recognition.
In addition, their jealousy is so strong that it comes at the center of their relationship with their children, only adding to the children’s frustrations as the children never seem to win any recognition from the parents.
To be more accurate, the only type of recognition that the children would receive is the type that contributes to boosting the egos of the parents. This reaction keeps the children confused and frustrated for feeling transparent in front of such selective recognition.
Narcissistic parents support the children who fight them less and nourish their public image. Accordingly, discrimination takes place in a household where some of the children are preferred to others.
Such a preference is strongly expressed by the parents, who make sure to let their children know about it.
This can be done directly by explicitly stating this preference, or indirectly by reacting differently to each child’s successes and failures.
While the failure of the “preferred” child may go unnoticed, a similar failure from another child becomes the hot topic of the season.
Even better, any success by the second child in an area where the “preferred” child had failed would push the narcissistic parent to behave in the most unreasonable ways. For example, the preferred child may have no income, but still receive financial support from the parents, while the second child, who may have a successful career, is expected to provide financial assistance to the parents, who may be retired and cannot bear the full expenses of the family.
In the long term, the curse of the narcissistic behavior becomes exhausting. Children who live with such parents have two options. The children can opt to adapt to this type of relationship, choosing to live with constant feelings of failure, disappointment and frustration. The other option would be to cut the cord with this alienating relationship and move away from the tentacles of the narcissistic parent.
To achieve the second option, children of narcissistic parents need to arm themselves with motivation, consistency, and a strong will.
Liberation from a curse takes time. The road is paved with great obstacles, but the end result is definitely worth it.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy
Liked this post? Pin it and save it for later!