Even for the most capable and confident parent, raising children is challenging. There is a lot of pressure to ensure your child grows up well-rounded and ready to tackle the world independently. The difficulty increases if you are separated from your partner and have chosen to co-parent since this requires more active coordination and planning. It is much more challenging when your child’s other parent is narcissistic. Here are a few examples of how being raised by a narcissistic parent can negatively impact a child’s psyche.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism is a personality disorder that causes a person only to be capable of entirely selfish thoughts and actions. Narcissists believe they are the most important person and tend to care about other people only when it serves their own purposes. Seeking attention excessively or manipulating others into doing what they want are additional common traits of a narcissist.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the disorder, narcissists rarely take the initiative to seek a diagnosis or treatment. They believe their way of thinking is appropriate and will most likely turn criticism toward others and away from themselves. Think about whether there are any signs you are co parenting with a narcissist. It isn’t always easy to identify when you have experienced someone’s personality as usual for so long.
The Impact of a Narcissistic Parent on Children
Once you find out if your child’s other parent is a narcissist, you can take steps to avoid the negative impact their personality disorder could have on your children.
Children of a parent or parents with a narcissistic personality disorder often experience wild mood swings and therefore find it difficult to trust other people as they grow older. A narcissistic parent may shower a child with praise for fitting in with their idea of perfection and then suddenly punish them with silent treatment for failing to live up to expectations. The lack of predictability can lead to a child not knowing when they can trust someone, be honest, and express emotions clearly. Trust issues can cause problems in relationships throughout their life.
Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem
Another lesson a narcissistic parent teaches their child is that they are not as valuable a person as the parent. Since narcissists see themselves as inherently superior to everyone else, their children will grow up believing they are merely part of a hierarchy and that their parent’s needs come before their own. This can cause low self-esteem that continues into adulthood. If a parent is often highly critical and emotionally demanding of their child, that child will grow up feeling incredibly insecure about their worth.
A child who grows up in an environment with a narcissistic parent will learn to anticipate their parent’s mood swings and to walk on eggshells to maintain peace constantly. They learn that people-pleasing is the safest way to navigate the world and protect themselves from anger or disappointment. This is no way for a child to live in their own home.