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How Children Are Affected by a Narcissistic Parent

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  1. Gaze

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    How Children Are Affected by a Narcissistic Parent
    10/31/2016 01:49 pm

    Susan Stiffelman Family therapist, Author, Parenting With Presence, Parenting Without Power Struggles

    A sense of entitlement, need for attention, absence of empathy, lack of remorse, arrogance, and volatility can make co-parenting with a narcissist extremely difficult.

    People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder see emotional vulnerability as weakness. Attempts by their partner to convince them to put their children’s needs before their own are typically met with resistance, defiance, or ridicule.

    But there is more to this scenario than the impact on the narcissist’s co-parent. Children can be profoundly affected by the lack of attuned parenting they receive.

    Below are some characteristics of adults who grew up with a narcissistic parent:

    • Choosing partners who are critical, withholding, or emotionally unavailable
    • Extreme sensitivity to the needs and moods of others
    • Self-doubt
    • A core feeling of unlovability and unworthiness
    • Drawn toward dramatic, roller-coaster romantic relationships


    Even if ones partner is highly self-absorbed, there is much that a parent can do to mitigate the impact on children. Read more about narcissistic parenting here.



    My hope is that these articles and my upcoming online series will contribute to an important conversation about this challenging aspect of mental health.

    Susan Stiffelman is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids (An Eckhart Tolle Edition). She is a family therapist, parent coach and internationally recognized speaker on all subjects related to children, teens and parenting.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-stiffelman/how-children-are-affected_b_12734590.html
     
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  2. Littlelissa

    Littlelissa Well-known member

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    Having a narcissistic parent means that you spend most of your life trying to work out who you are, and although you always knew your parent was 'crazy' you may not fit the pieces of the puzzle together until your late 30's early 40's. (Was like that for me and many others). My mother had addictive problems so I was always trying to protect her and let her off the hook. Plus your conditioned to parent your parent and feel controlled through guilt and fear. I have had no contact with my mum for about 2 years. It has been one of the hardest things for me to do. I feel sad for her and responsible. I'm just trying to work out who I am with out the voice of this critical parent banging around in my head. Will see what the future brings. I have been betrayed in so many ways I can't see how that will ever change. But I still feel immensely sad about it.
     
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  3. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome
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    I'm so glad you posted this. Thank you.
     
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    #3 Asa, Nov 1, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
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  4. Littlelissa

    Littlelissa Well-known member

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    It is possible to recover but it takes a lot of work. I think that it's also possible to have healthy relationships as well, but it takes a lot of insight. I have wanted to break co-dependent behaviour and heal my own issues before getting back into a relationship. It's taken years and years of therapy, healing modalities and my Buddhist practice. When I started chanting, every time I went on a course I would just cry for the whole weekend. One the flood gates were I couldn't stop.

    I feel an immense passion towards other children going through this, and also for the perpetrators, its like an cycle of abuse and suffering that goes round and round, never ending. But I think if you can heal it you can have a great compassion for and insight into others, because you know what it means to be a scapegoat. I also believe that really big problems like this, if you can heal them can make you a stronger person than you would have been otherwise.

    Perhaps my mother was sent to me to help me learn to have unshakable self esteem. I love her too and it's not her fault. It's a fascinating, dark condition to have.
     
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  5. Littlelissa

    Littlelissa Well-known member

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    Thank you @Asa, this forum is such an amazing place. I really appreciate being heard and understood, it means an awful lot.
    Thanks to @Gist too for opening the thread. I know there are many other experiences, partnering someone with NPD and co-parenting etc. that people have to deal with. Not easy.
     
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  6. invisible

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    I live with a parent whp has been formally diagnosed with BPD, which I think has some similarities?

    Home life has been consistently chaotic... I have found it very difficult to maintain a coherent sense of my self as separate from my parent. I have tended to dissociate or lose myself in other ways.

    I read somewhere someone's idea that children of these type of parents spend the rest of their lives finding freedom.
     
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  7. OP
    Gaze

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    I am glad it was helpful to post this. :)

    My experience?

    It's weird because I can check 4/5 on the list. I did have a ton of insecurities growing up. I couldn't trust myself, my own judgment, always fearful of doing something wrong or making anyone angry, always worrying about how others felt about me, and forever responsible for others' feelings or emotions, and drawn to romantic partners who were always inconsistent and dismissive. I do believe, my sensitivity also contributed to the difficulties I faced, but it's interesting noting the connection to being around narcissism in the family. Strict rules and structures. Very little freedom to be your own person. You don't own yourself. Others define you. If you do anything they don't like, you're wrong. And you spend your life trying not to make them upset with you. And you can't be imperfect. You must be good, and never disappoint anyone. So, yeah, the connection to narcissism makes sense.
     
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    #7 Gaze, Nov 2, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
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  8. Littlelissa

    Littlelissa Well-known member

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    I agree, BPD is also in cluster B group. I think my mum also has BPD as well as narcissism. She was very chaotic and drug dependent. I self medicated so to speak to cope with it, (nothing major but still a lot of my 20's went by in a bit of a fog)- because of all the toxic pain, and as a way of dealing with it and then in my mid 30's got myself as far away as possible, e.g. to the other end of the country in order to create some separation. I didn't know then then that it was NPD, but just that I had to get away to find a separate sense of self. Knowledge helped a lot though, once I found it. Funnily enough it was only after having had a NPD partner that I realised 10 years after we split up that he was NPD, and then, subsequently that my mum was also. It's weird how normalised the most dysfunctional behaviour can become when you grow up with it.
     
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  9. hn87c901

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    I am so with you on this.
    I satisfy all of the characteristics of growing up with an NPD parent.
    The craziness of the dysfunction was just normal to me.
    It's too close to the bone to further look into it now. But it has had an impact on who I am for all my adult life.
     
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  10. Bellosome

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    thank you for posting this article.
     
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  11. Vicarious

    Vicarious Beware the Mighty Kwaken! Rawr!!!
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    I believe my mother, though never officially diagnosed, is likely NPD as well. It's absolutely exhausting to deal with. I definitely identify with all of those characteristics, except for being drawn towards drama-laden, roller-coaster relationships. I avoid them like the plague, however I used to be drawn towards them or created the issues myself when I was younger. In fact, I avoid ALL relationships, for the most part, but especially dating, and part of that is due to my parents accusing me of being promiscuous just for having men over at my house, even if we were strictly just friends. It's absolutely ridiculous, since I am in my late 30s and who I have over to my house and my sex life should be none of their damn business. I have told them this over and over but it does no good so I would rather just not deal with it at all. I have other reasons for not getting involved in relationships as well, but this plays a large part in it.

    The weird thing is, I never really noticed any "chaos", so to speak, growing up. It's just how things were and I never really realized that it was abnormal until I started studying psychology in college. My family is what I call "closet dysfunctional", because looking in from the outside, we seemed like your typical middle class family and there was no substance abuse or crazy, manic behavior...it was all psychological and verbal, and always behind closed doors. My brother and I always thought (and were told, of course) that we were the problem, and had no idea that most parents don't act that way (our dad was verbally and emotionally abusive, on top of that. He has improved with that but still rarely calls my mom out on her BS). My kids are starting to experience some of it as well, both directed at them and my parents (especially my mom) talking negatively about me to them, which pisses me off. You would think after my brother's suicide, maybe they would have done some soul-searching regarding their behaviors, and it did get better for a while, but apparently they are regressing back to their old behaviors. It's very frustrating. Thank god my kids are almost old enough that they can take care of themselves while I'm at work so they won't have to be around them as much. Most kids enjoy seeing and spending time with their grandparents and my kids don't, and that is just sad.
     
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  12. invisible

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    It's difficult to tell whether BPD or NPD are "worse" to live with. I tend to think that NPD is "worse" though. It seems that people who have NPD are incapable of any sort of love. People with BPD do love, often very much, but their world is a maelstrom which they are constantly negotiating, and that's very difficult for them.

    (These are just my guesses. Sorry if I'm causing any offense.)

    Anyhow, sometimes people have mistaken my mother as NPD... not true though, these are quite different things. There are similarities though I think in the effect it has on loved ones.

    There have been times when I have been very exhausted, because only the minimum of rest is allowed, and never for more than a day at a time. Always some "event" or "catastrophe" or "task" will break the peace.

    A few weeks ago, my mother told me that she has to keep things happening in our lives because she doesn't want me to become bored. She was joking, but I think part of her really believes what she said.

    Anyway, as you can see, that's very different from a NPD parent.
     
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  13. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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  14. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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  15. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    My keyboard keeps fussing up and I couldn't add to my post :p. That being said...my heart goes out to you all!❤

    I don't have a narcissistic parent...my mom was was affected by her uncaring bitch of a mother, my dad shut himself off from feeling for many years because of his father's abuse on his early life...I was born an empath...I can't help but think I was born to them as to be a healer.

    I have a narcissistic older sister. She's not quite five years older than me and she fully believes the Sun is alive & bright because she exists. She is nasty mean to EVERYONE. I worry about my niece as she has been through a lot with her mom...yet, she stands by her. When my niece learned to have a sense of herself around age 3 and could question her mother, that's when my sister turned nasty on my niece. She no longer wanted her... I stepped in and had quite an effect on my niece from age 3-17. I did my best to try to instill a good sense of self esteem and confidence in my niece. She has a heart just as big as the world and did not grow up to be the callous, mean, empty-well like her mother. You see my sister is a true narcissist...she can't feel joy or hurt feelings, therefore, she has no clue as to the depth of pain she inflicts on those around her. She parrots well, mimicing the care and nice of those around her...and if a person is unaware and fails to stay a bit removed from her they get reeled into the fruckus and get left with cleaning up the hurt and destruction my sis leaves behind. My sis has used histrionics, gas lighting, feigned amnesia, physical & verbal abuse and that's just a few tactics. She has wiped out as many of my family members as she can reach.
    I fell victim to her the better part of the first half of my life. I finally stood up to her. I challenged her to her statement of "I'll leave and you'll never ever see me again." In that moment I smiled, told her I loved her...because I do, just don't like her...and I said goodbye, I wish you every happiness in your future. Her facial expression was one of a confused and scared child...it is because she can't feel the empathy nor compassion in that statement. It is the biggest reasoning behind a narcissistic rage...they just don't know what you are saying bc they have no feeling to relate the words to and they react/act out like a scared child. And pitch a for bc of it. :-(
     
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  16. Jet

    Jet The Token Extravert

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    Though he has never been officially diagnosed I've been told that ex sounds like he has NPD. This article and the linked ones breaks my heart a bit because I can see some of those characteristics in my kids and they are only 5 and 3. I definitely think I need to look more into this to learn how to better counteract what if any impact their dad may have moving forward. I hope that one day my boys are as well adjusted and good as many of you on this thread seem to be <3
     
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  17. PintoBean

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    Very similar experience. Personality has been pathologized lately, and NPD is experiencing quite the vogue in pop psychology land. I was really into it myself for about a year. NPD explained all the shit about my mother! Then we found out that she had temporal lobe epilepsy and a massive brain tumor. When someone's personality encompasses so many things that go beyond laundry-list interpersonal problems, friends and loved ones should really look into a an organic cause of the problem. My mother was a bad a mother, and she certainly acted with tremendous narcissism. I know now though that she was genuinely doing her best in the face of a lot of adversity.
     
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    But I think it's natural for young children to be somewhat self-centered? I'm sure you're doing a good job already!
     
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    From everything you've told me your mother is just like so impossible to deal with, your patience and understanding is pretty remarkable.
     
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  20. PintoBean

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    It's been a long journey. As I wrote about in my blog, basically it wasn't until a neurosurgeon pulled a golf-ball sized tumor off her brain that I have been able to let let it go and just give her the benefit of a doubt. I find her incredibly difficult to deal with still. I struggle with finding her personality likable, let alone lovable. But I really am at the point where I believe she has done the best she could. And that's really all we can ask of anyone.
     
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