22 thoughts on “11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You

  • May 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Yep, that pretty much nails it. I especially liked the “return to sender” part.

  • May 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Basically, you simply listed the attributes and weapons of institutionalized racism.

    • June 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you for pointing this out and providing that valuable perspective.

  • May 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Dan, Thank you once again for a very informative and helpful article on narcissism. I ticked all 11 boxes. I’m 66 and the effects of growing up with a narcissitic mother and alcoholic father has caused me a lifetime of heartache which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. They handed me their legacy of shame, guilt, anger and pain. My sister was the favoured child and I was the Hero, the Clown and very much the scapgoat for the ills in the family. What I found the most damaging was the way in which my parents chronically slapped me down and verbally and emotionally abused me. There was a lot of physical abuse too. To this day a part of me still feels worthless and I’ve lived a whole life time with a perpetual feeling of being ‘flawed’ as a human being.

    Dan, is it at all possible to recover from having being abused from infancy? The memories and pain of it are very much embeded in my psyche and soul even to this day, although, I have made big strides regarding recognising the different types of abuse and when being abused. I grew up with no real sense of normalicy therefore, as an adult I’ve ended up in two abusive marriages and not recognising the abuse for what it was. I became the perfect people pleaser and sacrificed my needs and wants all the time to please the needs and wants of others. I was totally unaware of my behaviour and what I was doing. Growing up I was constantly trying to please my narissistic mother however, if I didn’t please her then she became vindictive and she would make a point of doing something nasty too me or spread lies about me becuse of some ill concevied or imagined slight. I learned at the age of 15 that I couldn’t trust her to have my best interests at heart and that was a very lonely place for a young girl to be. In fact, I felt unwanted and unloved by her and on some level I felt abandoned.

    Once again Dan, thank you so much for sharing your valuable knowledge. I very much appreciate it.

    • June 16, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Yes, it is possible to heal and recover from abuse no matter how early in life it may have occurred. While the legacy may always have an effect, it is important to recognize that you will never again be in such a dependent, dysfunctional situation where you had such little power as a child. You have resources, rights, strengths, and awareness that you didn’t have in childhood. Working with the difficult feelings of abandonment or feeling “flawed” can take time and be difficult, but any of us can make great progress in reclaiming our birthright to pursue happiness and craft our lives. Thank you for sharing your poignant story.

      • July 20, 2017 at 8:03 pm

        There were many similarities in my childhood to Mary’s. I had an alcoholic father and my mother has a very controlling personality. Nobody can disagree with her opinion or anything else. She wins every single argument, disagreement or discussion. It is as if she still wants to control my life although I left home when I was 23, got married at 27 and had a son at 29 years old. 99% of her visits involve major shouting and screaming at me over nothing or trivial matters. It is demoralising and awful. She acts nice in public but she will get angry in the car before driving afterwards. I can’t do or say anything to please her. She constantly criticises me and never compliments me. She makes me feel like a total reject and loser. After being slightly brain damaged and almost dying from a head injury in 1976 she keeps thinking I am useless. I proved that I could still learn after becoming too physically disabled to work because of severe osteoarthritis caused by undiagnosed fractures in my spine, by getting a diploma in psychology and a certificate in counselling. She did not congratulate me at all. All she said was “hmm”. I have felt that I cannot be the real me as she will not approve. Should I seek professional help as well?

      • July 21, 2017 at 1:11 am

        You demonstrate many strengths in the face of adversity. Only you can decide whether not being the real you around your mother is worth the price. Finding a qualified therapist and/or other supportive individuals or groups could provide you with allies who can see, and celebrate, the real you.
        Thank you for sharing.

  • May 24, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    I saw so much of myself in the list. For many years, I had a feeling that something was “off” about my relationship with my parents, but I had heard all my life that I was 100% responsible for any problem I had with them. “I don’t know why you’re so insecure,” or Why do you have to be so bashful?” were the order of the day for me. I felt that I was not accepted for me, that I needed to force myself to change to make my parents happy. Even now, when I look in the mirror, I see a worthless excuse for a person, who will never be good enough.

    At first, most of my resentment was focused on my stepfather. After all, he was the one who touched me inappropriately because my mother no longer satisfied him. He’s also the one who deliberately provoked me past the point of tears, but then called me a b*%** and sighed that I must be out of my antidepressants.

    But now that my mother is dead, I realize that she was the more harmful influence. I blamed organized religion for many of the problems between me and my parents, but I now understand that my mother used the teachings as both a crutch and a sledgehammer. One incident I remember is one church service when I was about 11. She heard something she liked about how good children don’t question authority, and elbowed me repeatedly in the middle of church with a smug “Hear that?” After about the fifth time, I finally turned to her and gave her a look she didn’t like. Her response was a smirk and “Mad at God, ain’t you?”

    She loved to remind me that, because she was my mother, I had no right to ask her why about anything. Nor, she informed me triumphantly, did my brother and I have any say in any decisions she and my stepfather made concerning our family. When I did finally question her for raving once again that she didn’t know what she did to deserve such a rebellious daughter who talked back to her, she got a wide-eyed expression before telling me innocently, “You’re lucky we don’t live in Old Testament times, because then I would have to stone you to death for not honoring your mother.” Back then, I withdrew, and tried never to give her a reason to make good on her threat to give me a 30-minute beating with her belt for being rebellious and causing her heartbreak. But now, it’s still difficult for me to approach others or stand up for myself. Church had merely confirmed what she already believed: that parents were owed unquestioned submission from their children, and children had no right to speak up in their own defense.

    Going into the kitchen usually triggers severe anxiety and depression. My brother saw me break down crying before putting an arm around me and nodding, “PTSD.” The kitchen is where my mother ramped up the criticism and fault-finding. She was not a good cook, but she would stand over me and snap, “That’s not how I do it,” or “Why do you have to do everything upside down and backwards?” If I didn’t stop what I was doing and either do it her way or ask her how it (loading the dishwasher, stacking pancakes, or just stirring spaghetti sauce) should be done, she would clear her throat and repeat in a louder, harder voice, “That’s NOT how I do it.” At first, I would leave the kitchen and invite her to do it herself, but she would start crying and ask, “Where are you going? Are you abandoning me? I NEED you to stay out here with me.”. Even now, I am very sensitive to criticism, and feel a tremendous sense of failure and inferiority if I struggle or don’t do something perfectly the first time. (She would often say to me, “I don’t understand why you are so hard on yourself,” so it was hard to figure out that she contributed to that.)

    She saved most of her “zingers” for when others weren’t around, because she took great pride in her reputation as a delightful, sweet old lady who wouldn’t hurt a fly. So when I finally snapped, and started telling my stepfather some of the things she had said and done to me, his first response was to get a hurt look and beg me to stop “beating up on your mother,” because I “can’t blame her for all your problems.”. I told him he was essentially telling me I had no right to talk about why I don’t have fond memories of her. I reminded him that the last thing she said to me before the cancer took over was, “I wish someone [meaning us, her husband and children] would kiss MY @@@ to get along with me.”. After years of walking on eggshells around her and holding our tongues, this was a slap in the face. But finally, my stepfather shook his head and told me, “I didn’t know about all this. You need to get therapy so you can move past this. From what I understand now… you were abused.”

    So the next step for me is therapy from a licensed professional–not a pastor, as my parents used to insist.

    I apologize for the novella, but this article really struck a nerve with me. Thanks, Dan, for confirming that I and others like me are not defective human beings.

    • May 25, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Thanks for the share. I will never forget when I got engaged and came home with a beautiful ring on my finger and my new fiancĂ©e how my mother just sat in the corner and sulked. But I will not let her spoil my future happiness, I just won’t. I’ve spent years trying to understand her behaviour and how my sister also saw the power in our mother’s actions. I’ve read lots of books on shame and emotional abuse and also emotional neglect. But it is now up to me to let all her rotten behaviour go and get on with my life.

      • June 16, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        Your mother’s reaction to your engagement speaks volumes. How painful, and how classic. When a narcissist feels envy or not the center of attention, it isn’t pretty. She sulked rather than being happy for you. You are wise to dedicate yourself to not letting her rain on your parade. Thanks for your comment.

    • June 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      From what you wrote, it sounds like your mother waged a years-long campaign of manipulative, guilt-inducing tactics on many fronts. I am heartened to hear you are seeking support from a professional therapist. That can help you get free from this legacy, and you deserve to be free. Thank you for sharing your experiences so powerfully.

    • July 7, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      What a horrible woman your mother was. She sounds more like a sociopath than anything else.

      Celebrate her demise, surround yourself with decent people and move on as best you can. Relishing in her passing is not WRONG.

      Celebrate the day you were finally liberated from such an awful, self absorbed, obnoxiously abusive human being. I certainly wouldnt hold it against you nor would the vast majority of those here. A cake and some champagne on the anniversary of psychos passing sounds extremely appropriate. Farewell Cruella!

      And may you finally find some peace of mind after getting that ogre of a step father out of your life as well. He too needs to be shipped off on a slow boat to China for good! GOODBYE evil minion of mommy dearest.

      Im not kidding CLEAR them out. Finally find some much needed peace my friend. My God you deserve it.

  • May 29, 2017 at 12:32 am

    I am a bit weary of the statement you made that you would be ok if you did the complete opposite of what your narcissistic parents would expect you to do. Would that be basing your choices in rebellion of them instead of being able to make the right choice for yourself.Evenif you are not reacting to them some of your choices may be similar ro the ones they woul make.

    • June 16, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      You make an important point. Rebelling for rebelling’s sake can be self-destructive. Thank you for your perspective.

  • July 5, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Thank you very much for sharing your brilliant blog decoding narcissism. Now it all makes sense why I am who I am thanks to having a fiery mother who has always been very narcissistic and an alcoholic father who my mother divorced when I was eighteen in 1976. I can never do anything right in her eyes and my mother frequently shouts loudly at me over a trivial matter or if I have a different opinion to hers. She can never be wrong so nobody can ever win an argument or disagreement with her. I used to keep thinking of her as a highly critical woman who would make many judgements about others but most if all about me. It is as if she has stamped “FAILURE” on my forehead. Whenever I did well and got more qualifications she would never congratulate me. I was lucky if she just said “Oh” rather than “so, what good would that be for you”? I recognized ten of the narcissistic behaviour traits that you listed. Her weekly screaming fits are getting worse every time she visits me and insists on helping me with housework. Her martyr syndrome kicks in then. Friends and neighbours have advised me not to let her keep coming round at least once a week but I am too timid to say that. What do you think I should do?

    • July 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Mary,
      Your relationship with your mother sounds difficult and painful. You said that things seem to be getting worse. Given that, as difficult as it may be, you may have to change your approach in terms of setting boundaries. With narcissists, if things are trending worse, they tend to continue until or unless others set boundaries and stick with them. Finding a therapist or other support could help you. Thank you for sharing,

  • July 8, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    This is my mother to a T and I experience many of these things. I will make sure to keep this bookmarked and referred to often. Thank you so much, knowing is at least a huge first step for me.

  • November 13, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you Dr. Dan! This insightfully detailed article explains so much! You have described my life and perspectives very well. My life has been very handicapped by terrible anxiety, depression, zero sense of self worth, ADD and lack of reasonable decision making skills.
    Finally, at around age 60, I was given a diagnosis that has helped me to identify what happens with me and therefore curtail my reactions somewhat: Borderline Personality Disorder.
    Do you think that BPD can be caused by “being raised” by a narcissist parent?

  • December 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    My sister is exactly like this. She wasn’t invited to my niece’s wedding mainly because they got a certificate at the courthouse. When my niece told her mother about the wedding the only thing my sister could do was cry about how wronged she had been since she wasn’t there. She was not happy for the couple; she only had negative things to say about the arrangement. I respect my niece’s decision; who would want that negative energy and stress to ruin their day. My sister refuses to be on time and is always a helpless victim.

    • December 27, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      I meant to add, she also raised me and I cannot remember a time that I did anything well. Every action warranted criticism, advice or a free mental diagnosis for any negative emotions. Nothing has ever been good enough for her. I once valued and chased her validation; I no longer strive for something unattainable.

      • December 27, 2017 at 8:12 pm


        No longer striving for something unattainable is a key turning point in relationships with narcissists. Thank you for sharing your experiences!



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