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6 Ways That Narcissists Parent

4. The narcissistic parent wants compliance from their children, above all else.

These parents need obedience and compliance because the parents have set up—at least in their own minds—a step-by-step how-to program on creating the kid they want. If the child resists the parent’s authority or decisions, this runs major interference for the parent’s plans. The parent thinks, You’re not doing what I want, and my needs are more important than yours. Healthy parents don’t need so much compliance from children because they haven’t already finalized the profile of what they’re looking for their child to become. They see their child as separate, and allow separateness and individuation in their children.

5. The narcissistic parent really, really cares about the name of the college their child attends.

Bliss for the narcissistic parent is simple: “My child just got accepted to Harvard.” Having a child get into Harvard, he or she believes, reflects fairly equally on the parent. But in the same way that I don’t believe it reflects badly on a parent if their child goes to a local community college, I don’t think it reflects so much on a parent if their child goes to Harvard. For healthy parents, their children are their offspring, but they’re not carbon copies. Healthy parents do not need their children to be anything other than what they are naturally. They would say, “I’m not sure what kind of school they’ll go to, but I’ll be here to support them as they figure it out.”

6. The narcissistic parent has an unofficial list of acceptable professions for their child to choose.

The goal shouldn’t be for parents to push their children to become, say, doctors, lawyers, or CEOs. Are we even sure that the people who have those professions are happier? The goal should really be to help a child identify his or her interests and skills, and to provide the kind of independence they’ll need to cultivate a future that’s a good match for who they really are. I can think of a number of clients who completed graduate degrees but never used them. Those degrees are the ghosts of parents who pushed their kids into something that wasn’t ultimately the right fit. Parents should accept that their children belong in the professions that they want to pursue, and which hopefully capitalize on their unique strengths.

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