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Narcissists’ Kids’ Medieval Upbringings

No dental care. No medical care. No babysitters. One square of toilet paper per wipe. Reused bathwater. What is this? The Dark Ages!?!

Why, no, m’dear. It’s the normal upbringing of narcissists’ kids. Positively medieval.

Every time I think I’ve heard it all, a reader drops another bomb on me. Another shocking detail about their so-called “upbringing” by narcissistic so-called “parents.”

More and more, my response is, “When were you raised!? The Dark Ages!?!”

Why no! Only the 1960s. Maybe the 1970s. Not so long ago timewise but the manner in which these children were forced to live is nothing short of stocks and pillories.

The last I heard, the role of “doctor” had been invented a couple years prior to 1975. Dentists existed too, fancy that. Medical and dental insurance existed. Indoor plumbing had been perfected. But you’d never know it to hear narcissists’ children describe their childhoods.

I first began to notice this when Michael recounted his childhood. Over and over, I found myself saying, “Michael, we are only eleven years apart but you’re describing a childhood straight out of the Depression era or possibly 1465 A.D.  Dentists and doctors existed in the 1970s. You know that, right???”

But apparently his parents didn’t. When he was nine years old, he had, shall we say, a little accident with a pound of black powder. As I wrote on Facebook:

Just when I think it can’t get any worse, Michael tells me that when he blew himself up at the age of nine and crawled back to his house, arms and face charred black, hair burned off, completely blind … his drunk father didn’t rush him to hospital. Didn’t call the ambulance. Didn’t give him ice or a cool towel. No, he made Michael sit under a tree for an hour until his mother came home. Nothing but insults and anger. It’s only by the Grace of God and the kindness of surgeons who rushed from their nearby convention to the hospital that his eyesight was saved and his face flawless…except for his eyelids. They didn’t charge a dime. I have no words strong enough, no anger hot enough for my father-in-law. Just when I think “It can’t get any worse” … it does. Frankly, I think he was disappointed that the life insurance policy he had on Michael was for naught.

Burns notwithstanding, Michael was “lucky” in some ways. Maybe it was because he lived on a farm which had a well, so water was “free”  but he was actually allowed to take showers and baths although he says, “The bathroom always wreaked of vomit before my father was court ordered to attend A.A.”

Some of you weren’t so “lucky.”

Now, back in the 1800s, it was normal for family members to share bathwater. Laura Ingalls Wilder recounts this in her book Farmer Boy. In fact, it’s still being done by some Amish families.

But imagine my shock when a dear friend and reader told me that her family reused their bathwater in the 1950s and being the scapegoat, she always had to bathe last, in cold dirty water.

Did they have hot and cold running water? Indoor plumbing?

Of course they did! But she wasn’t allowed to use it. Nor was she allowed more than one square of toilet paper per wipe.

That’s not thriftiness. That’s abuse.

If you’re not allowed clean water, chances are you weren’t taken to the doctor either. Strep throat? Ear infections? Scarlet fever?

There’s aspirin, Campho-Phenique and a hot water bottle in the first aid kit. Help yourself.

Dental care!? What’s that!? My father had cavities in his baby teeth by age five.

Glasses? Only if the school insists.

Michael was left home alone at age five, with not even a prepared sandwich in the house. So being a resourceful little fella he taught himself to cook pancakes…and was yelled at for his troubles. Apparently, by feeding himself, he’d messed up the kitchen. Tut-tut.

When a tornado screamed through a neighboring field, in terror Michael wrestled his mattress and a ton of canned goods down into the basement.

Was his mother please her precious seven-year-old boy was so brave and hard-working? Was she glad he’d done the wise thing by going underground? Thrilled the tornado had bypassed their farmhouse and her little boy was safe in her arms?

No! His survival was not celebrated. He was yelled at…and forced to wrestle his mattress upstairs all alone. It was quite a struggle, he says sadly. He barely managed it.

Maybe she was sorry that life insurance policy they had on him was for naught. Again. Aw, shucks.

And don’t even get me started about the time Michael’s parents threatened with a beating he’d remember if he didn’t have appendicitis. That may’ve been the one time appendicitis actually saved a life. He had it ergo no beating…but plenty of shaming over the medical bill.

And then they scream, “WE DID THE BEST WE COULD.”

No. You didn’t. You did your worst. Just like all the other narcissistic parents who resent and begrudge their children’s very existence.

So don’t you dare act surprised when your kids go No Contact. Don’t you dare play the victim. Don’t you dare expect elder care. You didn’t care your children when they were tiny, vulnerable and defenseless. So why should they care for you…ever!?

I could go on and on but have a care for my poor blood pressure.

The worst part of this topic is that we’ve only just scratched the surface. There are stories out there that will curl our toenails. So, please, share how your upbringing by narcissists was medieval in the comments section below. Oh, this is gonna be baaaad!

Photo by vauvau

Narcissists’ Kids’ Medieval Upbringings

Lenora Thompson

For five years, "Narcissism Meets Normalcy" has followed the real-life, ongoing story of freelance writer, Lenora Thompson, and her readers’ healing journey from narcissistic abuse to healing, peace and happiness. In August 2020, Lenora launched a new blog, "Beyond Narcissism…And Getting Happier All the Time" as she and her readers explore the new world of peace and happiness. "Beyond Narcs…Get Happy" is 100% reader supported! To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael’s heroic fight against Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to subscribe to her other writings, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2019). Narcissists’ Kids’ Medieval Upbringings. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Dec 2019
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