What is Narcissism?
Narcissism is an excessive self-centeredness and grandiose view of one’s self, not necessarily believed by the individual personifying this trait, but is often portrayed and projected onto others. It is also an extreme infatuation to gain the attention and admiration of others with little regard to the needs and feelings of others apart from self.
In order to understand narcissists, professionals often start at the beginning of how they became that way. In most cases, it began with the breakdown of their childhood by not receiving what they needed from a parent/guardian. A child’s development plays an important role in how they mature into adulthood. If there was love, attention, validation, and the sense of security in the home, children will more than likely carry those same traits into their adulthood. However, if they were victimized by abuse, neglect, called demeaning names, never shown affection, or not allowed to express emotions, this too would be carried into their adulthood and have a damaging effect on the child, leading them to carry around feelings of low self-worth, anger, bitterness, resentment, and hatred towards others. Let’s break down the basic needs of children, so that you can understand what may have been missing in your narcissist’s past and what possibly fostered their becoming a narcissist.
What is a Narcissist?
A narcissist is a person who has a grandiose view of themselves and their abilities. They are self-centered and are very insecure, but often camouflage their insecurities with the need to receive an excessive amount of attention and admiration from others.
They are unempathetic and often marginalize the feelings and needs of other people, but will use deceptive acts of kindness for selfish gain, control, and manipulation. In so doing, they get their narcissistic supply. They never see themselves as having done harm to anyone nor do they care, but will often play the victim by shaming the real victim into guilt for the mere mention of their bad behavior – as a result, causing narcissistic injury.
20 Signs That You Were Raised by Narcissists
You have always known that something was in your relationship with your parent(s) but you were constantly told that YOU were the problem. You have tried to discuss your feelings with them only to be shut down instantly and told that you were just starting drama. They never cared about your feelings – only their own. You could never do anything to please or appease them because they would find fault in whatever you would do. You were made to feel as if you owed them something but never understood the reason why. Their happiness was based on how you made them feel because you were the sole person responsible for their emotions. You just could never understand what was wrong with your relationship and why it could never get better. You tried so hard, but the truth of the matter, you were trying to fix something that could never be fixed – at least on your own.
Many adult children struggle with issues from their childhood because they yet to come to the realization that they were raised by a narcissist. Either one or both of the parents were narcissists and the child grew up thinking that they were the problem when in fact, the parents turned their children into a problem. These narcissistic parents had mommy/daddy issues of their own and instead of getting help PRIOR to having any children, they handed down their dysfunction onto their child. As a result, generation after generation carry these curses of abuse into their families until someone breaks the cycle and say, Narc Abuse No More! That’s right! You can stop the dysfunction with the help of God, education, and determination. Let’s start the education part so that you can determine if you were raised by a narcissist.
Here are 20 major signs that you had a narcissistic parent:
1.) They use guilt to manipulate you. Narcissistic parents love to make their children feel guilty when the child sets boundaries or tell them no. The narc parents will say something like, “After all I have done for you…” They do this to guilt you into doing whatever they want of you and to make you feel indebted to them for life. You are never free to be independent of them because after all, you owe them for being your parents. The child, however, must learn to be okay with saying no and not allow the parent’s manipulative tactics to take root in their mind.
2.) You were the blame for everything that went wrong in the family. You found yourself to be the official scapegoat. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and you were always at fault. Whatever problems the parents had were your fault. Whatever problems your siblings had were your fault. You were blamed for other people’s life choices because it was easier to lay the blame on you than for them to look inward. You, however, were not to blame for everything that went wrong in your family so do not allow them to make you their sacrificial lamb.
3.) You were often gaslighted. If you brought up an issue to let your parents know how you felt about their mistreatment, you were told that you were exaggerating, over-sensitive, not understanding, spoiled, and made to feel that you were never abused by the parent or that you should be grateful because others had it worse than you. You were left questioning the reality of your feelings, but please know that these feelings were not just in your head. Narcissistic parents, however, want you to think so.
4.) Love was always based on conditions. Your narcissistic parent made it clear that they could give or take away their love if they so choose. If you did not comply with their wishes, they would let you know that in so many words that you were not deserving of their love. Therefore, you felt as if you had to meet their standards in order to receive their affection. Even then, you knew that it was not real love that they had for you but only a mere illusion.
5.) Boundaries that you set or needed were never respected. Narcissistic parents will not allow you to have privacy of any kind. If you had a diary growing up, mail comes to the house, friends on the phone, you were not entitled to privacy. They read your private thoughts, went through your belongings, ease-dropped on your phone calls, etc. As an adult, they had to involve themselves in every area of your life even when you tried to have a private life apart from their overshadowing influence. They felt the need to know everything you did, and you felt the need to provide an explanation as if you were 10. As an adult, you can now set boundaries and have them not breached. You are in control and can demand that your boundaries be respected.
6.) Your feelings were never taken into account. You grew up not being able to express your feelings. You were made to feel as if your feelings were null and void. If you were hurt by something your parents did and showed any type of emotion, they disregarded your them and told you to suck it up or that you were just putting on for attention. It was easier for them to dismiss your feelings than to acknowledge them. Therefore, you learned to keep your feelings buried inside because it was a sign of weakness for you to let them be made known in front of the narc only to have them berated. Your feelings DO matter regardless of what the narc told you and you are entitled to express them as long as you are not harming anyone else.
7.) Vengeance was theirs to take and they made it clearly known. You were punished for the slightest thing that you did. It was your parent’s way of getting even with you. They often took away something you liked, sabotaged something you took interest in, and/or destroyed something that you valued to let you know that they were in control. You did not feel safe to have friends around them because if they wanted to get even with you, they threatened to tell the smallest complaint you had about your friends to them in an attempt to damage and/or utterly destroy the relationship. Being around them was like being around a viper – you never knew when you would get bit.
8.) Your parent was always the Martyr. Yes, they laid down their lives so that you could have one. Never mind the fact that you were not present at the moment of passion when they decided to give in to the heat of the moment and 9 months, Mr. Responsibility came knocking. You did not ask to be born and although there is nothing wrong with being grateful for the extras your parents did, they were the ones who were supposed to take on that responsibility that they created and not you. Therefore, whatever sacrifices they made, it was their obligation to do so. You are not responsible for your parents’ happiness. Their emotional stability must come from within and not from you in an attempt to keep you under their control.
9.) Your parent(s) turned you into a codependent. You were made to feel as if you could not be independent of your parent(s). You had to do things their way and was unable to make choices that concerned only you as an individual. You were even told that you were selfish if you made decisions that were contrary to their opinions or lifestyles. If you lived in the United States, for example, and wanted to relocate to Japan, you would be made to feel that you were mistreating them by not staying in the states all because you wanted to experience a life of your own. Children of narcs, however, must learn that they do not have to walk in their parent(s) shadows and are free to experience life for themselves wherever it may take them even if that is to the moon.
10.) They took credit for your success. You may have earned your postgraduate degree, received a job promotion, won an award, or even got married, but the narc will accredit your success to them. For example, your degree was earned because they taught you the alphabets, the job promotion was given because they took you to soccer practice on time, the award was won because they sent you a few online articles concerning the topic, or you got married because they taught you how to mop the floor. Do you see how ridiculous that is? Yes, they never want you to receive any attention or admiration that does not come back to compliment them on some level. In the narc’s mind, everything that you are or have done successfully is all due to them. Well, you cannot change anyone’s delusions so the best thing to do is to not even try.
11.) There was the Golden Child. In most cases when there is a scapegoat, there is also a golden child. This child can never do any wrong regardless of what they do. You, as the scapegoat, was always blamed for everything while the golden child got away with everything. You were the black sheep while the golden child was made to be the white lamb. This role was sometimes switched temporarily if the narc got upset with the golden child. For just a moment, you may have stepped into the golden child’s role, but once the friction had subsided between the original golden child and the narc, you were dumped out with the trash to return to your permanent role of being the scapegoat. The golden child will always be the narc’s favorite because they were made to be in the image of the narc and they are like two peas in a pot. Therefore, never drink the Kool-aid when the narc and the golden child is on a “time-out” because as sure as the sun comes up, you will be yesterday’s news and back to the goat’s pen you’ll be.
12.) You were often berated. You were often told and/or made to feel that you were not good enough. You were not a good son; you were not a good daughter; you did not do this right or you did not do that right. They put you down so that they can feel better about themselves. The worse you felt the better they felt. They are unable to face their own inadequacies, so they had to look at what they presumed to be yours. They have the answers to everyone else’s problems except their own. Once you understand that narcs are frauds in the true essence of their character, you will not listen to their pathetic attempts to demean you.
13.) You were the object of their competition. Whatever you did in life, your narcissistic parents had to do it too or let you know that they could do it better. They could not stand the fact that you accomplished things without them or achieved something that they wanted to but didn’t. Therefore, they had to make it known as to their could of’s, would of’s, and should of’s instead of just wishing you congratulations for excelling where they did not.
14.) Your narcissistic parents “parentified” you. You were expected to be in the role of both the parent and the child. You were supposed to give them the emotional and sometimes financial support that they did not receive as a child from their own parents and yet be a child to them as well. You had to be their stand-in parent and ensure their happiness. You were expected to work extra harder on the relationship because it was all your responsibility if it succeeded but never theirs as you tried to juggle both roles. One thing you must understand is that you can never make up for what their parents did not give to them nor is that your responsibility. Whatever was broken in their relationship with their own parents is not for you to fix. You are not responsible for their emotional health and it is up to them to get the psychological support and/or therapy that they need.
15.) They were not trustworthy. Narcissistic parents will break the trust of their children by lying and planting traps for you. They started arguments but blamed it on you. They made you feel that you could confide in them only to break that confidence once they got upset. They baited you into an argument just to make it seem like you were a problem. They lied on you to distort your image to others while making themselves look like victims. Therefore, when dealing with these types of individuals, always keep one eye open with them because trust has to be earned and not automatically given.
16.) You were not given any empathy. You were not able to go to them and tell them your pain and/or problems. They did not care what you were feeling or how others made you feel. You received no sympathy or heartfelt emotions for what you may have been going through. You even had to be cautious with what you said to them or it would be used against you as in the court of law. They were cold towards you and, so you had to reach out to others for emotional support because they were anything but supportive of you. If they heard you say that someone was doing you wrong, they were more interested in the other person’s feelings than for yours.
17.) They do not have children to love, they have children for their own selfish goals. You may have heard your parent say something like, “I should have had an abortion, or I should have given you up for adoption.” This was said because they really did not have you because of wanting a child to love, they had you because you were a means to an end. It may have been to entrap your father for marriage and/or child support. It may have been to get welfare benefits. It may have been to get extra attention. It may have been to have someone to cater to them in their old age. Whatever the reason was, you were not born for love but for the narc’s convenience.
18.) The narc never admitted to any wrongdoing and rejected any criticism. You never heard your parent say that they were wrong about anything. They did not acknowledge that they mistreated you or made mistakes. If confronted, they would not accept any responsibility for their wrong. Not only will they deny and not accept responsibility for any wrongdoings, but they will shift the blame to you. By the time you have confronted them about their wrong, they will have made you feel bad about mentioning it. Any type of criticism was met with a harsh rebuke. The narc is perfect in their eyes. Therefore, it is not wise to even confront them unless you are ready for a battle with possibly falling on your own sword by the time they’re done.
19.) They were all about their image. You were told never to discuss “family business” with anyone on the outside. This meant that you were never to tell anyone about the problems that you were having at home. If you did, you would be threatened with being grounded and/or corporal punishment. The narcissist did not want anyone to look upon the family as being dysfunctional. When you went out in public, you had to have on the face of perfection despite how you were actually being treated. This is why you may have done so well hiding your feelings to others because you always had to roleplay as a child that all was well.
20.) You counted down the days when you could become an adult and leave the nest. Your days at home were not happy ones around the narcissistic parent. They abused their authority over you, humiliated you, belittled you and you had to walk on eggshells around them because you never knew what would set them off. Therefore, you counted down the days when you would no longer have to accept their abuse. It would be a day of freedom for you and you were going to latch on as tight as you could. You want something or anyone to free you from the wicked castle to which you had been confined. At the first chance of freedom you got, you escaped for dear life. This may have been an escape to college, military, boyfriend, etc., but you just wanted to get away from the witch that lived in the wicked castle.