mental illness

Adult Children of Narcissistic or Otherwise Mentally Abusive Parents

I have received a question about the difference between narcissistic abuse parenting and normal healthy parenting. I thought this was a great question and that it should be responded to in a post, so that others could understand about mental abuse of a child with a narcissistic parent.

I have also had conversations with a few of readers lately and the issues of the effects of mentally abusive parenting on adulthood keeps coming up. There are adults who have become aware of mental abuse during their childhood and that is affecting their functionality as adults.

There are also people who are unsure as to whether they experienced any mental abuse as children but seem to having difficulty with issues such as being a perfectionist or carrying some guilt or toxic shame issues.

In order not to  offend any parents let me state the following, This post is not about parenting or suggestions for how you should or should not parent your children.  People that have malignant personality disorder are not likely to reading a blog like this one. Everyone makes mistakes and no parents are perfect.

I am not suggesting that any of my reader have narcissistic personality disorder. In fact it is extremely unlikely, with the possible exception of my ex reading this blog. People with narcissistic personality disorder to not read blogs to seek to improve themselves because they do not see any need for changing or improving anything about themselves.

Narcissists are not reading this blog because it is all about empathy, emotions and compassion. The readers of this blog are mostly compassionate, empathetic and seeking validation, information, connection and humanization in a dehumanizing world.

I am writing this post for people who may have experienced narcissistic parenting and would like to find ways to get healthier and become more functional as adults.

Please know that I am a parent and I am far from perfect. All parents have to figure things out as they go along. If your intentions are good and you are trying to guide your child into one day becoming an independent functioning adult, then you are doing the best that you can.

One of the main differences between healthy parents and narcissistic parents  is the understanding that the child will one day be an adult who has to be able to function on their own. They need self esteem, and self confidence to function well as an adult.

Narcissistic parents tear their children’s self esteem down, in order to control and manipulate them. They do not see the child as an individual person with rights of their own. They see the child as an extension of themselves and property that they have every right to abuse as they see fit.

Children can be abused in a physical way by parents, which is always also mental abuse. Being treated as a punching bad for someone to get their anger our onto, is dehumanizing. Sexual abuse is also dehumanizing and has ling lasting affects of shame and trauma.

Mental abuse is treatment that is not physical but also has the effect of dehumanizing the child. It makes them feel that they are an object and not a person. The narcissistic parent sees the child as an object and as one of their possessions that they have every right to control.

Narcissistic parents do not have unconditional love for their children, They expect the children to exists in order to be servants to them. The children are emotionally tortured and controlled by emotional torture.

Punishments for not complying to what the narcissist wants include The Silent Treatment, Abandonment or throwing them out of the house, name calling and criticizing, smear campaign which is spreading ugly lies about the child to others in order to humiliate them.

Other punishments for non compliance to the narcissists are violation of boundaries including but not limited to breaking up relationships, and intentionally causing problems with friendships of the child.

It is typical for the parent to tell the older child, “I am doing this for your own good” The parent feels a right to the child. If other relationships and situations make the parent feel slighted then they will interfere with them, even if it causes damage to the life and ability to function of the child.

If a daughter has a job and the narcissistic parent feels the job is giving the daughter a sense of independence and individuality, the the parent may take severe action to undermine the daughter. They may go to the job location and verbally interfere to the point of the daughter losing the job.

The mother, of course, will say “I did it for your own good” when in reaility the mother was threatened by the daughter’s growing self esteem and independence.

Living with a narcissistic parent is living in constant fear and boundary invasion. 

Life is unpredictable with the narcissistic parent. They change rules that they never informed you about, that never really applied in the first place.

All this just to make you respond with an emotional reaction for them to feed off of.

You can follow all of the rules as you understand them and then suddenly the parent has changed the rules without telling you. You are punished for not following the new rule, which you has no way to know about.

This is a way in which the narcissistic parent can make you wrong all the time. No matter how hard you try, you are always wrong and always not good enough. There may be rewards from time to time for complying but later on the parent sets up a scenario for you to fail.

In his video, Narcissistic Mother’s Pet , Sam Vaknin describes the view of the narcissistic mother of their child. This is in reference to a child that is put on a pedestal and used as an instrument for the parent’s own agenda. This is about the Golden Child of a narcissistic parent. 

The child is dehumanized and instrumentalized, when they are idolized.  His or Her parents love the child CONDITIONALLY.Not for what he really is but what they wish and imagine him to be.

The fulfillment of their dreams and frustrated wishes. The child becomes the vessel of the parents’ discontented lives. A tool, a magic brush, with which they can airbrush their failures into successes, their humiliation into victory.”

Children of narcissistic parents are molded by the parent into what will serve the agenda of the parent. A person with malignant narcissistic personality disorder does not support the child in developing their own identity and values.

The following link is to a Sam Vaknin video calledNarcissist Mother’s Pet: Her Child. This will explain how the narcissistic mother sees her child as something that she is entitled to make into what she want it to be. I have also put the link below. For some reason I was unable to get this video to appear on the post as playable. You can click on the link and it should work for you.

People with malignant narcissistic personality disorder make up about one percent of the population. There are other personality types and disorders which can cause parents to be abusive. But for the sake of this article, I am only discussing parents with malignant narcissistic personality disorder.

People with malignant narcissistic personality disorder live in a world of their own reality. This was developed during their own childhood which was abusive. In order to endure the abuse, the child created a fantasy world where they were omnipotent and godlike, They came to tell themselves that they were entitles to all things and services from all people.

This unfortunate survival coping skill which the narcissist developed during their abusive childhood is carried into adulthood as their own fantasy world. The narcissist is unable to feel empathy for others or even to see them as fellow humans with rights to their own thoughts and feelings.

“The child of the narcissist  is taught to ignore reality and to occupy the parent’s fantastic (fantasy) space” The narcissistic parent fails to allow the child to learn very basic life skills that are needed to be a functional adult.

Some of the life skills that are never taught to the child of a narcissistic parent are

“empathy, compassion…a realistic assessment of ones abilities and limitations…realistic expectations of oneself and others….personal boundaries, team work,social skills, perseverance ..

“All of these abilities are lacking or missing altogether”  in the child as they grow into an adult

The following video is about adult daughters of narcissistic mothers and their relationship.

Children of narcissistic parents are sometimes idolized and put on a pedestal. although any time they do not comply to the narcissist wished they are knocked down off the pedestal and emotionally punished.

Sometimes in families with more than one child, one of the children is made to be the scapegoat.

Children of narcissistic parents are abused mentally whether they are the scapegoat child or the idolized golden child. Here is a video about this topic.

I highly recommend watching this video and the other videos which I included in this post. I did extensive research in order to find information that is accurate and delivered in a manner that is accessible to the listener.

The next video I will share with you is about scapegoating and the effects that carry over into adulthood

This is a lot of information for you to look at , listen to and to process. If you feel that you were mentally abused as a child or a teenager, then you will have noticed some functional problems as an adult. The best method to begin dealing with abuse in your past is to learn about the topics that are related to the particular type of abuse that you endured.

Here is a valuable resource for daughters of narcissistic mothers

This blog has lots of great articles and information for you. Here is a quote from the blog 

We feel we cannot be our authentic true selves, even assuming we can figure out who that authentic self even is.

We suffer from low self-esteem, often to the level of self-loathing, and we struggle with self-care. We almost certainly cannot love ourselves, and all this is evidenced by our negative self-talk.

We may believe we have no right to exist, and almost certainly feel that we’re never good enough, that we’re not acceptable, that at some deep down level we’re inherently flawed.

We either are forever self-sabotaging, or burdened with impossible perfectionism.

Other Topics you might want to research are…

narcissism, adults of narcissistic parents,
malignant borderline personality disorder,
adult children of borderline mother or father,
C-PTSD from childhood abuse,
dark triangle, dark tetrad, and toxic shame

Good YouTube channels for these topics  are:

Spartan Life Coach

Self Care Haven

Sam Vaknin

Annie Mimi Hall Life Coach

Other videos you might find helpful…

This video is about “Toxic Shame and is very well done by the Spartan Life Coach.  There is another video on this channel that I like which is called How I Overcame Narcissistic Abuse”

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