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There are many different types of narcissists, and it’s about time you found out if you were raised by one

Narcissistic parents use guilt, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation. Your feelings and thoughts were often dismissed in favor of theirs. You often felt lonely and confused.

There’s a reason you clicked on this article. It could be because of hazy memories from childhood, lingering doubts about your experiences and if it is normal, and the emotions that still remain unresolved. As a child, you depended on your parents to be taken care, physically and emotionally. But parents can only give what they themselves have.

If your mother or father struggled with a mental disorder or were narcissists, chances are that many of your own needs were dismissed and you were left to cope with life all by yourself. Narcissistic parents are of two kinds, but before that, it’s important to know that having a narcissistic trait is different from suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

As a parent, your mother or father could have been an:

Engulfing Narcissist: Such parents see their child as an extension of themselves. They tend to micromanage, literally live through the child, often overwhelming the child with their own emotions and being unclear of where one ends and the child begins.

Ignoring Narcissist: Such parents show minimal interest in the kids. Here, they view the child as a distinct stranger who happened to be at home, and childrearing is seen as an obligation rather than a source of joy. They tend to ignore the kids’ needs and show no interest in being involved in their daily lives.

Here are 12 tell-tale signs that your mother or father was a narcissist parent:

1. Codependency is the word. 

All your decisions were tied to how they feel. From everyday choices to life-altering decisions, your parent enmeshed their sense of okayness with you such that you feel their emotions before you feel your own. As a child, you felt heavy and confused when it comes to making a decision because you aren’t sure how it would impact them.

2. There was an overdose of guilt.

Your constant companion was guilt. A thick, stubborn cloud of guilt followed you through the day. And every time your narcissistic parent poked you with words, a fresh shower of guilt would rain all over you. As a kid, you felt like you were walking on eggshells and every time you did something that made you happy (which is completely natural, healthy, and necessary), it was seen as a move against them. In a way, you grew up feeling that you had to choose between your happiness OR theirs.

They also make you feel like you owe them your existence. You might have often heard statements like “After all that I did for you” or “Is this is how you can show your gratitude for everything I sacrificed?”

3. Their love was bartered in exchange for obedience.

Your parent could withhold love or spew hate without any warning. As a kid, you knew that in order to “earn” their love, you had to behave, speak, act, smile, emote, and be a certain way. If you don’t, their smile would disappear and they would either ignore you and give you the silent treatment or be abusive.

Image for representational purpose only. (Source: Shutterstock)
Image for representational purpose only. (Source: Shutterstock)

4. They seemed to compete with you.

As a parent, if a child made a mistake, you help them cope with the experience and guide them. Instead, if your parent made you feel worse with a silent “I knew you would fail” or “I told you so” attitude, they wanted to prove to you that they knew better.

5. They broke your boundaries often. 

It didn’t matter how you felt, their emotions, thoughts, opinions bulldozed over any sense of personal space and took over completely. They didn’t believe you needed your space, time, things to be yours. They assumed it was also theirs for the taking. They also tended to break emotional boundaries by telling you how to feel, guilting you out of the emotions you were experiencing, and make you doubt your own mind.

6. They had to show they were better.

If you did well or accomplished something, they had to outdo you. They cannot bear to share the spotlight with anyone. If you remember birthday parties, get-togethers, and reunions to be more of hazy, nonchalant, strangely sad occasions and the only vivid memories you have are those of your parent in center stage, your parent often tried to upstage you.

7. They robbed your victories from you.

If you came back home to announce how you topped the class, or a guest tells you how talented you are, if your parent immediately shifted the limelight away from you, it’s a classic sign of narcissism. A healthy parent will brim with pride when their child does something that they couldn’t do. But the narcissist is likely to feel threatened.

You might have heard these lines as well:

She takes after me.

I was a sports guy, just like him.

It’s those genes, I tell you.

8. They used gaslighting to trick you.

They lied to you often, which made you down your own memory and sanity. You heard them right and it hurt you, but they might turn the tables and say “Don’t be ridiculous; why are you imagining things? or why would you cook up such stories; or don’t be so sensitive.” This is done to make you doubt your own memories and judgment so they can get away with the manipulation.

9. They dismissed your feelings and mocked you.

You could never say what you really felt. When you did, you ended up regretting it. They would make it seem like you were overreacting, your tears were labeled as “drama,” and you had to pretend to be numb or neutral to get through the day. When you were happy, you felt guilty for being happy. When you were angry, well, you never really allowed yourself to feel it because it was too dangerous.

Or, they mocked and belittled you, at times, in front of others. This ate away your confidence and you ended up feeling confused, hurt, and embarrassed. Shame is likely to have been a constant emotion in this case.

10. They demanded obedience.

There is a clear line between discipline and blatant control. If your parent was strict but had your best interest at heart, that’s discipline. If your parent used discipline as a pretext to exert control over you, that’s abusive.

These include threat, physical punishment, emotional blackmail, etc.

11. They lied to you often.

It was easy for them to say white lies and also turn around their statements in their favor in serious matters. They were inconsistent in their feedback and this made you doubt yourself and your ability to do the right thing.

12. They made you the parent.

You ended up taking care of their emotional or physical needs. You had to wait for your dinner until they had had theirs. Or, you were supposed to be “mommy’s friend” when she needed a shoulder to cry on.

13. They had a scapegoat and golden child in the family.

One child was seen as perfect and capable of doing nothing less than perfect. The other child is seen as the black sheep, the primary reason for all issues in the family. They might switch these roles based on their convenience, but to them, the facts mattered lesser than their assumptions.

14. They lacked empathy.

You cannot remember them sitting calmly and with an open mind to listen to you to understand your world better. A parent is expected to feel, sympathize, and care for your feelings and thoughts. Even if they don’t agree with it, a child needs the parent to offer an understanding ear.

Adult signs in children who grew up with a narcissistic parent/parents:

Poor self-esteem

Lack of personal boundaries

Cannot say “NO”

Excessive guilt

Trust issues, especially in close relationships

Weak sense of self (not sure where one ends and other begins)

Unexplainable shame


A constant need to please others

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