It’s sad to grow up with a narcissistic parent. It could be a mother or father or even both, as these people are often attracted to each other. If you feel that you’re being abused by your parents or that you’ve been traumatized by them in the past, then you should probably read about the common characteristics of a narcissistic parent.
1. Everything narcissistic parents do is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or explanation. They call their cruelties actions of love. They say that their aggressive and hostile acts are thoughtfulness. They present their selfish manipulations as gifts. They disguise their criticism and slander as a concern. They only want what is best for you. They only want to help you.
2. Narcissistic parents violate your boundaries. You feel like an extension of them. They give away your property without your consent, frequently in front of you. Your food is eaten off your plate or given to others off your plate. Your property might be repossessed, and all they’ll say is that it was never yours. Your time is committed without consulting you, and opinions purported to be yours are expressed for you. They discuss you in front of you as though you are not there.
3. Narcissistic parents favoritise their children. Narcissistic parents commonly choose one child to be the good one and one (sometimes more) to be the scapegoat. The narcissist identifies with the perfect child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden kid does just as they want. The perfect child has to be cared for assiduously by everybody in the family. The scapegoat doesn’t have any needs and instead gets to do the caring. The golden kid can do nothing wrong, while the scapegoat is always at fault. That creates divisions among the children. The golden kid will defend the parent and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the parent’s actions. The perfect child might also directly take on the narcissistic parent’s tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat, so the narcissistic parent doesn’t have to do that themselves.
4. Narcissistic parents undermine. Your accomplishments are acknowledged only to the extent that they can take credit for them. Any success or achievement for which they can’t take credit is ignored or diminished. They undermine you by picking fights with you or being especially unpleasant just before you have to make a major effort. They act put out if they have to do anything to support your opportunities. They will be mean to you about things that are peripherally linked to your successes. No matter what your success is, they have to take you down a peg about it.
5. Narcissistic parents demean, criticize and denigrate. They let you know in all sorts of little ways that they think less of you than your siblings or other people in general. If you complain about mistreatment by someone else, they will take that person’s side even if they don’t know them at all. They don’t care about those people or the justice of your complaints. They just want to let you know that you’re never right.
6. Narcissistic parents make you look crazy. If you try to confront them about something they’ve done, they will tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination,” that you don’t know what you are talking about, or that they don’t understand what you’re saying. They’ll claim they don’t remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will they ever acknowledge any possibility that they may have forgotten. This tactic is called “gaslighting, ” and it’s very common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are always undermined so that you end up with no confidence in your intuition, or your powers of reasoning. That makes you a much better victim for the abuser.
7. Narcissistic parents are envious. Any time you get something nice, they’re angry and resentful, and their envy will be apparent when they admire whatever it is. They’ll try to get it from you, spoil it for you, or get the same or better for themselves. They’re always working on ways to get what other people have. The envy of narcissistic parents usually includes competing sexually with their sons or daughters. They’ll attempt to groom themselves in an age-appropriate way or to date. They will criticize the appearance of their sons and daughters. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic parents infamously attempt to damage their children’s marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
8. Narcissistic parents are lying in too many ways to count. Anytime they talk about something that has emotional significance for them; it is a fair bet that they’re lying. Lying is one way that they create conflict in the relationships and lives of those around them – they’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. They’ll lie about their relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation to inflate themselves and to undermine your credibility.
9. Narcissistic parents have to be the center of attention all the time. This need is a defining trait of narcissists and particularly of narcissistic parents for whom their kids exist to be sources of care and adoration. Narcissistic parents love to be waited on and sometimes pepper their children with little requests.
10. Narcissistic parents manipulate your emotions to feed on your pain. This exceptionally sick and bizarre behavior is so common among narcissistic parents that their kids frequently call them “emotional vampires.” A part of this emotional feeding comes as pure sadism. They do and says things just to be wounding, or they engage in tormenting teasing or them needles you about things you’re sensitive about, all the while a smile plays over their lips. They might have taken you to scary movies or told you horrifying stories, then mocked you for being a baby when you cried; they will slip a wounding comment into the conversation and smile delightedly into your hurt face.
11. Narcissistic parents are selfish and willful. They always make sure they have the best of everything. They insist on having their way all the time, and they will ruthlessly, manipulatively pursue it, even if what they want isn’t worth all the effort they’re putting into it and even if their effort goes beyond normal behavior. They would make a huge effort to get something you denied them, even if it was you had the right to do so and even if their demand was selfish and unreasonable. If you tell them they cannot bring their friends to your party they will show up with them anyway, and they’ll have told them that they were invited to make you either give in and give up or be the bad guy to those poor dupes on your doorstep.
12. Narcissistic parents are self-absorbed. Their feelings, needs and wants are critical; yours are insignificant to the point that their least whim takes precedence over your basic needs. Their problems deserve your immediate and full attention; yours are brushed aside. Their wishes always take precedence; if they do something for you, they remind you constantly of their munificence in doing so and will frequently try to extract some payment. They will always complain, even though your situation might be much worse than theirs. If you point that out, they will effortlessly, thoughtlessly brush it aside as of no importance.
13. Narcissistic parents are insanely defensive and are extremely sensitive to any criticism. If you criticize them or defy them they will explode with fury, threaten, storm, rage, destroy and might become violent, beating, confining, putting their child outdoors in bad weather or otherwise engaging in classic physical abuse.
14. Narcissistic parents terrorize. For every abuser, fear is a powerful means to control the victim. That’s why your narcissistic parent used fear ruthlessly to train you. They teach you to beware their wrath even when they are not present. The only alternative is constant placation. If you give them everything they want all the time, you might be spared. If you don’t, the punishments will come. Even adult sons and daughters of narcissists still feel that carefully inculcated fear. Your narcissistic parent can turn it on with silence or a look that tells the child in you they’re thinking about how they’re going to get even.
15. Narcissistic parents are infantile and petty. Narcissistic parents are usually childish. If you refuse to let them manipulate you into doing something, they will cry that you don’t love them because if you loved them, you would do as they wanted. If you hurt their feelings, they will aggressively whine to you that you’ll be sorry when they’re dead that you didn’t treat them better. These babyish complaints and responses might sound laughable, but the narcissist is serious about them. When you were a kid, if you ask them to stop some bad behavior, they’d justify it by only pointing out something you did that they feel is comparable, as though a kid’s childish behavior is justification for an adult’s childish behavior. “Getting even” is a large part of their dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give them the deference, attention or service they feel they deserve, or you thwart their wishes, they have to show you.
16. Narcissistic parents are aggressive and shameless. They don’t ask. They demand. They make outrageous requests, and they’ll take anything they want thinking they can get away with it. Their demands of their children are posed in a very aggressive way, as are their criticisms. They won’t take no for an answer, pushing and arm-twisting and manipulating to get you to give in.
17. Narcissistic parents “parentify.” they shed their responsibilities to you as soon as they could, and then leave you to take care of yourself the best you could. They denied you medical care, adequate clothing, necessary transportation or basic comforts that they would never have considered giving up for themselves. They never gave you a birthday party or let you have sleepovers. Your friends were never welcome in their house. They didn’t like to drive you anywhere, so you turned down invitations because you had no way to get there. They wouldn’t buy your school pictures even if they could easily have afforded it.
18. Narcissistic parents are exploitative. They will manipulate to get work, money, or objects they envy out of other people for nothing. That includes their children, of course. If they set up a bank account for you, they were the trustee of the account with the right to withdraw money. As you put money into it, they took it out. They might have stolen your identity. They took you as a dependent on their income taxes so you couldn’t file independently without exposing them to criminal penalties. If they agreed with you, it was violated the minute it no longer served their needs. If you brought it up demanding they adhere to the agreement, they brushed you off and then punished you so you’d know not to defy them again.
19. Narcissistic parents project. That sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that they will put their bad behavior on you so they can deny they have these traits and punish you instead. That can be very difficult to see if you have traits that they can project on to you. You are not hysterical at all; it’s them who are. However, your refusal has made them feel the shame that should have prevented them from making shameless demands in the first place. That’s intolerable. They can transfer that shame to you and rationalize away your response: you only refused them because you’re so unreasonable.
20. Narcissistic parents are never wrong about anything. No matter what they’ve done, they won’t ever genuinely apologize for anything. Instead, any time they feel they’re being forced to apologize they will negate their apology with justifications and qualifications or self-pity such as: “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” or worse “I’m sorry, but you’re over-sensitive.” Insulting apologies are also examples of projection.
21. Narcissistic parents seem to have no awareness that other people even have feelings. They’ll occasionally slip and say something jaw-droppingly callous because of this lack of empathy. It isn’t that they don’t care at all about other people’s feelings, though they don’t. It would just never occur to them to think about their emotions. A lack of empathy is what defines a narcissist and underlies most of their other features. Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do understand what’s right or wrong, and they know the consequences. That’s why they are not ordinarily criminal. They beat you, but not to the point where you went to the hospital. They left you standing out in the cold until you were miserable, but not until you had hypothermia. They put you in the basement in the dark with no clothes on, but they only left you there for two hours.
22. Narcissistic parents blame. They’ll blame you for everything that isn’t right in their life or for what other people do or for whatever has happened. Always, they’ll blame you for their abuse. You made them do it. You upset them so much that they can’t think straight. Things were hard for them, and your back talk pushed them over the brink. The blaming is usually so subtle that all you know is that you now feel guilty. Your brother beats you, and their response is to bemoan how uncivilized children are. Your boyfriend dumped you, but they can understand – after all, they have seen how difficult you are to love. They’ll do something egregiously exploitative to you, and when confronted will screech at you that they can’t believe you were such a selfish to upset them over such a trivial thing. They’ll also blame you for your reaction to their selfish, cruel and exploitative behavior. They can’t believe you are so petty, so small, and so childish as to object to their giving your favorite dress to their friend. They thought you would be happy to let them do something nice for someone else.
23. Narcissistic parents destroy your relationships. Narcissistic parents are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart, and wounds are inflicted. Typically all communication among siblings is superficial and driven by duty. Siblings might even never talk to each other at all. In part, these parents foster dissension among their children as they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children only communicate through the parent, it’s the parent who decides what everybody hears. Narcissists also love the drama they create by interfering in their sons and daughters’ lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.
24. As a last resort, narcissistic parents become pathetic. When you confront them with unavoidable consequences for their bad behavior, including your anger, they’ll melt into weepy helplessness. It’s all their fault. They can’t do anything right. They feel awful. What they don’t do: own the responsibility for their bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it’s all about them, and their helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for their consequences AND their unhappiness about it on you. As so frequently with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse their bad behavior and make them feel better, then you are the bad person for being a cold, heartless and unfeeling son/daughter when your poor parent feels so awful.
25. Narcissistic parents abuse by failing to protect you when a normal parent would have. Sometimes the narcissist will encourage their perfect, golden child to abuse the scapegoat. Also, narcissists abuse by exposing you to violence. If one of your siblings got beaten, they made sure you saw. They effortlessly put the fear of the parent into you, without raising a hand.
Reference: Mystical Raven