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Do You Have a Narcissistic Parent?

Do You Have a Narcissistic Parent?

Written by: Ashlee Cantrell

The relationship between a parent and their children is crucial in the development of the child’s brain, physical and mental health, relationships with others, and how they view the world around them. No parent is perfect; however, some parenting may have a lasting impact that continues through into the child’s adult life. At times, children with narcissistic parents are at risk of harm. This may seem a bit scary, especially if you’re not sure what a narcissist is or if you’ve experienced it firsthand. However, it is important that you understand that you are not alone and that you can reach out for help. It is helpful for individuals to recognize the signs of narcissistic parenting to understand the impact their growing up may have on them. Let’s talk about it.

What is a Narcissistic Parent?

To understand the trauma is to understand the narcissistic parent. Narcissism is described as an intense sense of selfishness that is portrayed as charming and highly functional. Narcissists often carry a sense of entitlement with them wherever they go, stealing the attention of the room. They often manipulate others to have their needs met and require admiration from others. Narcissists often experience a lack of empathy and may have difficulty understanding how others feel. They are often unaware of their behaviors or unaware that their behaviors are wrong and/or inappropriate and therefore struggle to apologize to others. With this, they may often blame others rather than take accountability for their actions. How might these traits show up in parenting? A narcissistic parent might see themselves as more important than their child, meaning that they may struggle to value their child. As children age, it is common for narcissistic parents to view their children as competition and begin to feel threatened by them. With this, narcissistic parents may begin to tear down their children’s self-esteem or challenge them in these ways:

  • Teasing, mocking, or bullying
  • Gaslighting
  • Becoming intolerant of disobedience
  • Acting as though their reputation is their children’s responsibility
  • Using fear tactics to dominate or manipulate the child into submission
  • Blaming family members when things go wrong (Refusing to take accountability)
  • Only showing love when expectations are met OR withdrawing love when expectations are not met
  • Lacking empathy or overall feelings toward family members
  • Making everything about them, no matter what

Growing up with a narcissistic parent is always challenging and often traumatizing. The parent may be experiencing admiration in public settings, but in private, the home setting is much different, especially for the children involved. Let’s work through the impact that having a narcissistic parent can have on a child.

The Impact on a Child

Being raised by a narcissistic parent can make a child feel confused, nervous, scared, and sad for most of their childhood. There comes a certain age where the child understands that their needs are less important than their parents. Their parents have made it clear that the child’s thoughts, feelings, and longings are not welcome without proper stability in the home. Therefore, the child learns that they are responsible for maintaining stability by keeping up with their parent’s moods and expectations as they come and change. While attempting to process their way of living, children raised by narcissistic parents also must do their best to stay safe and get their needs met. However, if the child at any point fails to meet the expectations, responsibilities, or any other rules set by the parent, the child’s physical and emotional needs may not be met. This is the unfortunate and traumatic cycle that may occur between a narcissistic parent and their children. Oftentimes, these children develop anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD. What are some other effects of narcissistic parenting?

  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-doubt
  • Preferring to care for others before yourself (co-dependency)
  • Trust issues in relationships
  • Perfectionist tendencies
  • Impulsivity
  • Reliant on substances
  • Difficulty standing up for self/setting boundaries with others
  • Refrain from expressing needs
  • Difficulty being independent of the narcissistic parent



The Impact on an Adult

It is difficult to realize that there is anything wrong with a situation as a child but as an adult, it may be easier to understand that things could have been different. Oftentimes, an adult child of a narcissistic parent begins to realize that other children may not experience the same experiences that they do or feel the same as they do. Children of narcissistic parents may experience effects of upbringing that may cause long-term trauma or damaging effects. While every person’s childhood upbringing is different, we must discuss these effects to avoid any future harm. Growing up with a narcissistic parent almost always hurts their children’s mental health. How can being raised by a narcissistic parent impact a person as an adult? Let’s find out. Adult children of narcissistic parents may exhibit some of these traits:

  • Chronic self-blame
  • People-pleasing tendencies
  • Feeling needy or guilty when considering their own needs
  • Insecure attachment-style relationships
  • Chronic independence
  • Low self-esteem or self-worth
  • Difficulty with trust or intimacy
  • Codependent and/or abusive relationships
  • At risk of becoming narcissistic
  • At risk for mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.)

Experiencing a narcissistic parent from a child’s point of view may produce an intense amount of trauma for the child, especially if they are not aware of what is happening to them. Where the child may be searching for a person to love, care for them, and provide for their needs, they receive a person who is concerned about loving and caring for themselves while bartering others to meet their needs instead. It is a scary experience for a child and an angry experience for an adult child of a narcissistic parent. Children of narcissism may need to develop a sense of themselves in a healthy manner separate from their parents. Seeking out a counselor during this process might be helpful. If you or anyone you know is or has experienced anything discussed above, it is never too late to seek assistance to discuss your experiences and reach out for help at URC!

Struggling to Feel Normal After Having a Baby?

Struggling to Feel Normal After Having a Baby?

Written by: Ashlee Cantrell

Congratulations, parents! You’ve just welcomed a beautiful baby into the world. There are so many exciting things that come with childbirth; getting to hold your baby for the first time, hearing that first cry, and changing their first diaper. Although you may be feeling grateful you may also find yourself feeling exhausted and stressed at the same time. There are so many new emotions and responsibilities that come with having a baby that might start to affect your mental health and you may find yourself thinking “I just need a break!” You are not alone. Let’s talk about what to expect, some ways to cope with how you may be feeling, and when to seek help.

What to Expect

Having a baby is a huge adjustment, especially if it is your first. Sometimes your eating habits, sleeping schedule, and friendships may get placed on the back burner. But how do you know what’s normal and what’s concerning? It’s normal to feel emotional, stressed, and frustrated. It makes perfect sense for you to be feeling these things considering that you may no longer be sleeping eight hours a day, you’re probably not eating as well as you were before, and you might be feeling lonely. It is also normal to be concerned about your baby’s well-being. Although this can cause significant stress, it is completely normal to worry about whether you’re doing things correctly and taking care of your child appropriately. It is challenging to learn new skills, new routines, and a baby’s needs all on your own. With that, it is normal to make mistakes. Making simple mistakes is common, which is why you must have a support system and a primary care physician that you always trust handy to ensure that your baby is taken care of and that there is nothing to stress about. Cut yourself a break. You are doing a great job.

Hormonal Changes

For those who have given birth, let’s talk about hormones. It is super common and understood that many people who give birth experience a shift in hormones before, during, and after birth. Hormones can contribute to emotional changes and can help to make someone feel less than normal. For example, estrogen and progesterone decrease after birth, which may contribute to an increase in feeling a low mood. Another example would be an increase in oxytocin, which helps the uterus to contract, helps with mother-child bonding, and is known to decrease stress and anxiety. Finally, prolactin is a hormone that allows for lactation, which increases after childbirth and may produce an increase in low mood and anxiety. Hormones may cause someone to feel as though they are experiencing mood swings, with frequent up and down in mood whether due to mother-child bonding time and then shifting to breastfeeding, or the increase in estrogen and attempting to play with your child. There are so many cases where hormones may have a say in your mood.

Coping Skills for Parents

Feeling stressed about being a good parent is exhausting. One of the biggest pieces of advice you may hear often is to appreciate your baby while they are young, but how can we appreciate it when we’re so stressed all the time? Let’s work through some coping skills together to help you get healthy and stay connected!

  • Social time. Maintaining a healthy support system and good friendships are some of the most important things after having a baby. Getting to see other people helps to relieve stress. Not only are you able to engage in actual conversation with another human (who can also engage in actual conversation and not just stare at you), but you’re able to get out of the house! Bonus points if there is some vitamin D!
  • Unwind. Whether during nap time or at the end of the day, regardless of how many chores need to be done, make sure that you schedule at least 30-60 minutes of you time. This time can be dedicated to whatever you want it to be; your favorite TV show, reading a book, yoga, tanning, taking a relaxing bath, and so much more!
  • Date night. Ensure that you and your partner, if you have one, are spending quality time together alone. Yes, you read that correctly. That means that you and your partner are planning time for just to two of you. This is super important because, although caring for a baby is crucial, your relationship should also be a priority. This can include going out on dates, or just planning movie nights in the house after the baby is asleep.
  • Accept help. No matter how hard you try, you cannot do everything yourself. That’s okay. Take a breather and ask for help or accept the help that is being given. You got this.

When to Seek Help

While it is important to understand what is normal, it is even more important to understand what is NOT normal and when you should seek help. Some parents find that their mood does not lift after birth and rather than feeling a “low mood,” they become anxious or depressed. Mental health issues are very important and may become detrimental to you and your baby. Let’s discuss this in detail.

  • Depression. Experiencing symptoms of depression 4-6 weeks after childbirth is called postnatal depression (PND). At times, this condition may transfer into postpartum depression (PPD). Symptoms may appear as feeling excessive sadness, mood swings, and crying spells. These symptoms are more likely to occur in parents who have a history of depression. PND and PPD are equally as scary and exhausting, especially if you’re not sure how to cope.
  • Anxiety. Feeling anxious about being a new parent is normal, however, this becomes abnormal if that anxiety takes control and becomes overwhelming. These feelings may be difficult to cope with, especially when you have a screaming baby around.
  • OCD. Obsessive-compulsive tendencies appear as a type of anxiety where you may have unwelcomed thoughts that must be followed by a specific behavior. These tendencies may be more likely in individuals who have a history of OCD, but maternal OCD and perinatal OCD can occur in anyone. For example, have you ever found yourself consistently bothered by intrusive thoughts such as “What if I drop my baby?” “what if the bottles aren’t clean enough?” followed by compulsive behaviors that cause overwhelming stress. You might relate.
  • Trauma. Depending on what you experience during pregnancy and childbirth, a few traumas may touch your family. You may experience unsettling memories, flashbacks, or nightmares. You may avoid discussing the event with others, or even feeling angry or anxious when others bring it up. If the birth of your child is an unsettling event for you, you are not alone.

Having a baby is a wild and exciting journey, but it may also be overwhelming and stressful. There are so many new things to learn about the baby, about being a parent, and about yourself! Ugh, what do you do? If you find yourself connecting with any of the information above, it may be time to reach out for help. Talking through what you may be feeling is an important first step in getting the help you need. Upstate Restorative Counseling offers help to parents in need. Reach out today!