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Traits of a Narcissistic Parent

3 Common Traits of a Narcissistic Parent

Dr. Hawkins talks about the 3 common traits of a narcissistic parent, including a hyper-focus on their own needs and feelings over that of their children, a lack of any real connection, a lack of stability, and emotional immaturity.

A parent by definition is someone who ensures the care and safety of their children, and that is the minimum, legal responsibility of a parent. But a truly healthy parent-child relationship involves love, stability, connection and empathy. Unfortunately, if you are living with, or grew up with a narcissistic parent, you felt none of these things.

You probably felt unseen, unheard and uneasy, like you were never quite sure what to expect.

3 Common Traits of a Narcissistic Parent

Do you think that narcissism only impacts the mate of a narcissist? No, not true. Narcissism is like a pebble in a pond; it has Ripple effects that go out a long, long way.

Today, we want to dive into a topic that often remains hidden beneath the surface of our awareness: the impact of narcissism on children. More specifically, we will explore the experiences of adult children who grew up with narcissistic parents. Dr. David Hawkins from the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute will shed light on three common traits of narcissistic parents and how they affect their adult offspring.

Self-Centeredness and Emotional Immaturity

Narcissism is characterized by profound self-centeredness, but it’s not merely about self-absorption. It encompasses emotional immaturity, often manifesting as erratic behaviors, shallow emotional connections, and a lack of empathy. These traits have a significant impact on the children of narcissists.

Superficial Relationships

Adult children of narcissistic parents frequently describe their relationships with their parents as superficial. They feel unheard, unseen, and invisible. While they do have a connection with their parents, it is a shallow one. Over the years, this emotional neglect can leave a lasting impact. Adults who grew up with narcissistic parents often express not knowing their parents on a deeper level, creating a sense of having been neglected emotionally.

Lack of Consistency and Stability

Inconsistent and unpredictable behavior is another hallmark of narcissistic parents. Adult children describe not knowing what to expect from their parents—whether their parent will be happy or unhappy, available or unavailable, loving or angry. This uncertainty creates an unstable environment that makes it challenging for children to form secure attachments. A sense of not being able to count on their parents further exacerbates the emotional toll.

Emotional Immaturity

Narcissistic individuals often display emotional immaturity, resembling the emotional development of a six-year-old. This emotional immaturity can manifest in childish behavior and thinking. The impact on their children is profound, as they may be forced to grow up too quickly or take on parental roles due to an absent, distant, or unstable narcissistic parent.

What to Do If You’re an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Parent

If you are an adult child of a narcissistic parent, seeking help is crucial. These experiences can have a lasting impact on your emotional well-being, and addressing them is a vital step toward healing.

  1. Seek Professional Support: Talking to a therapist or counselor who specializes in narcissistic abuse can provide a safe space to explore your experiences and emotions.
  2. Connect with Support Groups: Joining support groups or communities of individuals who have gone through similar experiences can be immensely helpful in finding validation and shared coping strategies.
  3. Set Boundaries: Learning to establish and enforce healthy boundaries is essential when dealing with narcissistic parents, even as an adult.
  4. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care and self-compassion. Healing takes time, and it’s essential to be patient with yourself as you work through your past experiences.

In conclusion, the impact of narcissistic parents on their adult children can be profound and long-lasting. Recognizing the traits of narcissistic parenting and seeking help are essential steps toward healing and building healthier relationships moving forward. Remember that you are not alone in this journey, and support is available to help you navigate the challenges that come with being an adult child of a narcissistic parent.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: Are Narcissists Capable of Love?

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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