Signs and behaviors of a narcissistic parent:
If you are doing what they want, then you are loved
These types of parents are all about them. If you do what they say, then they show you that you are loved. If you deviate from what is expected from you, then you can expect them to show you that you are not loved. It’s a reward system of love that is not that far from a dog getting a bone if they roll over; this is not unconditional love. This keeps the child always need to prove their love. This hot and cold mixed message confuses children and makes them get used to this intermittent type of love, and so victims often marry someone that treats them the same way.
A Common Tool of Narcissistic Parents is Sibling Divide
Siblings are often pitted against each other; we call it triangulation. Somewhere in the back of their evil minds, they know that if all the siblings got along they would be stronger together. Together you could stand up to the parent, so they divide siblings to maintain control. Look at your sibling relationships. Were you always having to earn your parents love? Was it a competition?
The Dance of Conversation Avoidance
Narcissistic parents get aggressive and twist things if you are talking about something sensitive that they don’t want to hear. You need to talk about something might not be important to them, so they bow out of real conversations. This leaves the child feeling like nothing they have to say is worth saying because if your own mother or father doesn’t care, who will? As a narcissistic parent age their tolerance for even faking that they care gets less and less that they prefer to talk about neutral topics like the weather. Conversations become eggshell land mines as we try to navigate having an adult conversation with them. Does your parent cut you off as you try to tell a story and make the conversation all about them? When victims see patterns that what you have to say is not important to their own parent, they get the message that they are unimportant.
When Your Parent Plays Childish Games
Narcissistic parents might play the game of “getting even” if they perceive you wronged them or caused them embarrassment. This is called a ‘narcissistic injury’. When you were younger they might have punished you with consequences ranging from no TV to groundings or in severe cases with a smack or beating. Later in life they might have hidden something you loved and added gaslighting to tell you that you lost it. Sometimes they sabotaged your relationships with friends and siblings, telling lies about you to turn them against you. Spreading lies about you gives them supply because it hurts you. Even if they feel wronged they are entitled to do this to you. It’s like a game of revenge with their own children.
Narcissistic Moms and Dads Use Name Calling As A Tool
Another childish tactic to devalue you and keep you small. If you have an insecurity or weakness, they will latch onto it like a mighty sword to cut you over and over, further injuring you and exploiting the weakness. They know exactly how to hurt you, and what names to call you that will trigger you. These names they called us affected us negatively. What names were you called? Were they associated with your weaknesses?
Gaslighting Is A Way To Deny What You Know As Truth
A tactic that almost all narcissists use to make you doubt your own sanity and leave you feeling like the crazy one. Think of Gaslighting as another form of lying, but with a twist. They might move your school books or toys and then blame you for losing them. The blaming you is the part that makes it gaslighting. This type of abuse can lead to self-doubt.
Projection is when they accuse you of something they themselves are doing.
Personal space is something that everyone needs to find sanctuary. When you were young and played in your room with your dolls or action figures, your room was your personal space. As you grew up you might not have wanted your parents to invade your space, but they may have gone through all your papers while you were at school, maybe your diary and then they yelled at you for something they read. Did your parent feel entitled to your belongings, clothes, electronics or money? When you tried to set boundaries, like “I don’t want you to go in my room” or “don’t wear my clothes” how did they react? If they got angry or just broke your boundary and went into your stuff you probably felt less safe and powerless.
Ignoring their Own Children
Narcissistic parents ignore their children’s feelings, desires and dreams for their future. If the career or the mate they choose isn’t cleared by them, they will forever be on the naughty list. The difficult part is the other side of life, the in ‘front of other people’ part where you did get attention, you were shown off like a shiny object that confirmed for the world what wonderful parents they were. This gave the child this intermittent love that the child came to believe is how all love is. My mother ignored us unless she needed something, but she also triangulated us with strangers. She proudly called friends daughters ‘her other daughters’, people we never met, that we always felt like we were in competition with for her love.
Does Your Parent Live Life Through their Children
Instead of raising a child to be independent with their own thoughts and needs, the child becomes an extension of the parent. If dad played football or mom was a cheerleader, the children were expected to follow in their footsteps. The child was never given the opportunity to be themselves or feel they had a choice or voice. Children must comply with these guidelines, and this creates unspoken life crushing limitations that most children cannot break free from until they become adults.
Mirror Mirror On The Wall – You Reflect Them
Narcissistic parents use their children to show the world, that they are a good parent. They show off your wins and hide the fact that you have any weaknesses. The child must be perfect, or it reflects on them. This pressure leaves the child that can’t fulfill this expectation as the scapegoat, that way they can call you the black sheep to justify to their friends the behavior they determine will reflect badly on them.
While the narcissistic parent wants the world to think their child is great, the rules are they cannot outshine them. To keep the child in their place narcissistic parents use the tactics of name-calling, put-downs, judgments, nit-picking, criticisms, and comparisons to let the child feel like they are never enough. The child that gets this message usually pushes themselves further with hopes of pleasing the parent, never realizing that they will never measure up to these expectations.
Manipulation Tactics Are Deployed To Keep You Down
We have all heard of the parent’s guilt-trip tactics, like “After everything I have done for you, you can’t do this one thing for me?”. A narcissistic parent pushes the envelope, to intimidate and make the child feel obligated or unlovable – “If you loved me, you would do this”. Blaming the child for ‘their’ failures is also quite common. “Its all your fault I could never get a better car, you always need things, you are so needy.” Shame is a tool that leaves the child feeling like nothing s/he does is ever good enough. “If you get another C on your report card they will kick you out of school and then everyone will know how stupid you are, and that will embarrass me. It that what you want?” Negative comparison to other siblings is another form of shaming, that does two things. First, it creates a shame wound to the child, but it also creates a rivalry that isolates the siblings against each other, losing any sense of family. Verbal abuse and threats are another way a narcissistic parent manipulates a child. “If you don’t clean up your room or get straight A’s you will be punished.” Did you ever have those if you don’t, then… type of verbal abuse? This is control and manipulation with a side of fear, threats, and abandonment.