Our childhood events shape what kind of adults we become. Hence, parents strive to give their children the best care possible. However, if you grew up in the hands of a narcissistic mother or father, their mental illness may trigger soul loss in you. In turn, you develop ego defense mechanisms that impair your self-growth.
So, how can you tell if you grew up under a narcissistic mother or father? What impact does it have? And, how do you heal? This article seeks to answer all these questions and more.
What Defines a Narcissistic Parent?
A narcissistic mother or father is always self-focused. That is, the parent may desert the family and the other spouse to raise the children alone. Alternatively, a present parent may also be unsupportive to the child. For example, an ignoring narcissistic mother notices a child in need of consoling but does nothing about it. She pretends all is okay, hoping the child won’t notice.
Similarly, an absentee father may only visit the child once every several months. Or only provide financial support as forced by a court ruling.
Next, is the engulfing narcissistic parent who is obsessed with every aspect of their child’s life. You know, they see the miniature version of themselves in their children. Hence, they feel the need to dictate and control the child’s every move.
10 Signs You Were Raised By a Narcissistic Mother
A narcissistic mother openly declares which child they love the most and why. Likewise, they will have a black sheep who is the child they least like.
#2: Loving Conditionally
A child with a narcissistic mother or father must work hard to get any affection from the parent. Here, the parent only expresses kindness, gratitude, or warmth toward the child for as long as the child obeys them.
#3: No Respecter of Boundaries
Engulfing narcissist parents see their children as another version of themselves. That way, they become obsessive in the children’s private lives. They want to dictate who the child dates, what and how much they eat, what careers they pursue, and what clothes they wear.
Note that, unlike a caring parent who may dictate all these out of love for the child, the engulfing narcissist is trying to “correct” or “regain” what they never accomplished when they were children.
#4: Control via Co-dependence
A narcissistic parent encourages the child to rely on them, even on areas where they should be bold. For example, this parent comes up with a detailed home routine for preparing food, doing laundry, and going shopping. Then, when the child goes for grocery, they always ask what to buy even though they already know what they want.
A narcissistic mother forbids a child from joining the local school baseball league, saying the child is too young or not strong enough. In reality, this parent has doubts about their potential and is projecting this doubt to the child. Other forms of projection include hating a child because they believe the child hates them and, a parent blaming a child for their defeats.
#6: Poor Communication
Most narcissistic parents are selective listeners. For, they only hear what is pleasing to them and ignore any other issues you raise.
#7: Avoidance of Conflict Resolution
As a poor communicator, a narcissistic mother ignores any raging conflict with the child, assuming that the child will get over it with time.
Gaslighting refers to the tendency of a person to make another question their sanity, thoughts, or perception of reality. For example, this mother may counter a child’s loving memories about their absentee father. Or, a father pretends not to understand what the child is asking, hence withholding information from the child.
Other forms of gaslighting include belittling the child’s feelings, denying certain events that took place, stereotyping, or dismissing the child’s ideas as “crazy”.
#9: Never Acknowledging Their Mistakes
Often, parents may do something hurtful to a child and realize it is their fault. At this point, any loving parent owns up to their mistakes in a discreet, authoritative way. However, a narcissistic parent tries to blame the child. For example, a parent who slapped a child may say it was out of provocation.
#10: Parent-Child Competition
A narcissistic parent competes with a child on a lot of things. For example, this parent wants to stand out and steal the show during the daughter’s wedding. Or, they may buy the same clothes, car models, or have the same group of friends as the child, trying to outdo the child.
The Impact on Children
Adults who grew up under the care of a narcissistic parent may have the following traits: –
#1: Low Self-Esteem
If you happen to be a black sheep in a family with a narcissistic mother, this label gives you a sense of worthlessness leading to low self-worth.
#2: Anxiety and Depression
Gaslighting in childhood creates a sense of self-doubt for you even when you are an adult. Here, you become anxious about making even the simplest decisions. In turn, your low self-esteem deepens even further, developing into chronic depression.
#3: Lack of Boundaries
Victims of engulfing narcissistic parents find it hard to create boundaries in their adult relationships.
#4: Susceptible to Negative Criticism
Low self-worth makes children of narcissistic parents susceptible to negative criticism. They internalize and blame themselves for others’ wrongdoings.
#5: Feeling Ashamed
Narcissistic parents use shame to dominate their children.
Tips on Dealing with the Trauma
If you are a victim of a narcissistic parent, here are some tips to help you heal from the abuse: –
#1: Seek psychotherapy
This therapy involves reprogramming your subconscious mind to let go of any false ideologies that are negatively influencing your decision-making.
#2: Opt for trauma counseling
Here, you get to acknowledge the trauma, grieve about it, and start your self-care journey towards healing.
#3: Join a support group where you can share your experiences with other victims
#4: Rediscover your true identity
For example, listening to audio-guided meditations and self-love affirmations help.
#5: Have self-compassion
#6: Disrupt your negative internal dialogue.
You may have no choice on who raises you. But, you can accept and deal with your childhood narcissistic abuse. That way, you break the cycle of narcissism before projecting it to your children too.