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Being Raised by Narcissists: 18 Harmful Ways It Affects Your Life

A child being raised by narcissists will almost certainly end up showing signs of narcissism themselves. If not, low self-esteem is a given. 

raised by narcissists

These days, we hear the term ‘narcissist’ a lot. The truth is that it’s a word that’s thrown around a lot unnecessarily. We all show the odd sign of narcissism occasionally. But, for someone who is raised by narcissists, life is certainly tinged with a whole lot of negativity.

Narcissists are people who care about no one but themselves. That doesn’t meld very well with being a parent.

When you are a parent, normally, it is a thankless job. A narcissist is incapable of putting their own wants and needs aside to care for the emotional and physical well-being of their children.

In that scenario, being raised by narcissists is a very difficult thing to overcome, and there are many repercussions that stem from their upbringing.

[Read: Do narcissists know they are narcissists – Or do they lie to themselves?]

What is a narcissist?

We mentioned that many people show the odd small sign of narcissism occasionally and that’s true. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re a narcissist if you occasionally act in a selfish way or forget to consider someone else’s feelings.

A person with narcissism has a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The problem is that most people with this condition are never diagnosed, simply because a narcissist thinks that they have no problem. To them, it’s everyone else who has the problem!

The truth is that being around a narcissist for any length of time can be damaging. But a child being raised by narcissists, either one or two, has a pretty hard time of it.

To show you why, let’s check out the main signs of narcissism. [Read: 15 off-putting and obnoxious symptoms of narcissism in a person]

1. An inflated sense of self/illusions of grandeur

2. An inability to see anyone else’s point of view – their opinion is always right

3. Manipulative behavior

4. A lack of empathy [Read: 7 reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

5. Will bully, belittle, and upset anyone without a second thought

6. Must have the best of everything, including material items

7. A constant need for validation

8. Lives in their own world, usually where they are at the center of everything

9. Will exploit or manipulate others without any shame at all [Read: Am I manipulative? 20 signs you constantly use the people in your life]

10. Unpredictable

The problem is that a narcissist won’t show these signs all the time. They’ll flick back and forth between so-called “regular” behavior and then show their true face. Being around a narcissist is exhausting and can leave scars.

Anyone who is raised by narcissists will certainly show signs of emotional abuse and will probably end up with narcissistic traits themselves. [Read: What types of narcissism should you be on the lookout for?]

The most obvious and harmful signs you were raised by narcissists

Children who are raised by one narcissistic parent can come through sometimes unscathed by the treatment of their parents. But, if you have two parents who are equally narcissistic, the emotional hurdle can affect your emotional stability for a lifetime.

There are several traits that result from being raised by narcissists. If you had no one looking out for you while growing up, then overcoming the abuse may be a hard road to recover from. [Read: Manipulative people – How to spot them and stop playing the victim]

There are two different types of narcissistic parents.

One is the engulfing type, where children are smothered to the extent that they never develop a sense of self.

The second is ignoring narcissistic parents, who use neglect and emotional blackmail to control their children.

Either way, the consequences are similar. And, it can end in dire consequences for the emotional maturity of the child and the way that they perceive themselves. [Read: Child of a narcissist – 16 lasting effects you just can’t ignore]

1. You have low self-esteem

Being raised by narcissistic parents typically leaves the child with very low self-esteem. Not only were you unlikely to have your own identity outside of them, but they also made sure that you were stripped of any praise.

Constantly insulting and overly critical, you learned early on that whatever you did wasn’t good enough. That can ultimately lead to low self-esteem.

2. Depression and anxiety are not uncommon

After either being overly controlled or neglected, it is not uncommon for those raised by narcissists to be prone to depression and anxiety.

Never feeling in control of themselves, their decisions, or their own lives, children of narcissistic parents have very little hope for their future. They often feel helpless to change their life circumstances. [Read: Signs of anxiety – How to read the signs ASAP and handle them better]

3. You have a tendency to look for destructive relationships

Feeling comfortable with people who criticize, control, or manipulate you, you tend to seek out destructive relationships. Since it is the only thing you know, and likely, all that you think you are worthy of. Normal and healthy relationships don’t feel right to you. [Read: 16 clear signs you’re in a narcissistic relationship]

4. You do a lot of self-sabotaging

When you do have accomplishments or healthy relationships, you self-sabotage them because you don’t know how to deal with them. Not only being fearful of losing something loving and good, you don’t feel like you are worthy.

So, to protect yourself, you push people away and subconsciously make poor decisions.

5. You downplay your own accomplishments

You were never allowed to accomplish anything on your own that they didn’t take credit for. So, you aren’t big on taking stock of your successes. You tend to focus more on your failures.

You have the tendency to talk about yourself in a negative light and focus on your shortcomings, not the times that you rose above the crowd. [Read: How to stop having negative thoughts that drag you down]

6. You have trust and abandonment issues

Since your parents probably didn’t really care about whether you were happy, sad, or even taken care of, they also were not afraid to lie to you about whatever suited them.

That can leave a child feeling unsure of what is real. If your parents lie to you, then why wouldn’t everyone else? The very people you should trust the most weren’t so trustworthy, so what would compel anyone to be different? [Read: Pistanthrophobia – Understanding the fear of trusting someone]

7. You keep things to yourself

Everything good you did, they criticized. Everything nice you had or cared about, they probably broke or took away. So, you have a tendency to keep things to yourself rather than fear that you are going to lose them.

8. You don’t feel worthy of love

The child who is raised by narcissists doesn’t know the feeling of unconditional love. In their world, no one has to love and accept you.

In fact, the very people who you are told have to love you, don’t. It is not uncommon for you to feel like you must have done something to make them not care for you. After all, that was their job. [Read: How to respect yourself – 14 secrets of self-worth and self-belief]

9. You were often made to feel crazy through gaslighting

Gaslighting is a technique used by narcissistic parents to make a child feel as if they are going crazy. Changing the story and convincing children that they don’t know what they know, narcissistic parents control and emotionally abuse their children using this manipulative tactic. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship and shut it down for good]

10. You had to grow up quickly

When you are raised by narcissistic parents, you have to grow up quickly, because often, the parents need parenting.

Switching roles, the child is left to clean up the mess of their parents, be responsible, and cover up for their shortcomings – or else they’ll face ridicule and anger.

11. Not everyone was treated the same in your family

When children are raised by narcissistic parents, there is typically one child who is the “golden child.”

One child can do no wrong, and they are held in the highest esteem. Using them to compare the rest of the children to, they are a tool to make everyone else feel less than, and also unworthy.

12. They didn’t tolerate any defiance or questioning

No parent likes to be questioned, but if you questioned your parents when you were being raised by narcissists, there were typically huge repercussions.

The punishment was swift and harsh if adoration was not spewed toward your parents and their competency. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]

13. They were masters at projection

Whatever it was that they did wrong, they probably projected onto you. That can leave you feeling like everything in life is your fault.

Taking the blame for the rest of the world’s ills can leave a child raised by narcissists feeling perpetually guilty and unloved.

14. You hide the genuine you

Since you were never allowed to be yourself because you had to exude perfection *which was unattainable*, you probably have a hard time showing the real you to the world.

Whether you are always the “entertainer” or the “fixer,” you have learned what and who you are supposed to be. That is the person that you show to the rest of the world. [Read: How to be yourself – 14 steps to unfake your life and love being you]

15. They had no sympathy or empathy for your pain, so you kept it to yourself

You could have fallen off a roof, and they barely glanced your way. So, you learned very early on that no matter what type of trauma you endure, you have to grin and bear it.

Any attempt at getting sympathy or empathy would be rebuffed with comments about being a drama queen or a whiner. [Read: Emotional manipulation – 14 ways people mess with your mind]

16. You are still afraid of them, no matter how old you are

Being raised by narcissists teaches you that authority figures are to be feared. No matter how old you are, you never stop fearing the reaction of your parents and avoid them as much as possible.

Fear is the cornerstone of control when being raised by narcissistic parents.

17. You are still seeking their approval, even if you know you will never get it

You know that you’re never going to get it, but you still crave their approval no matter how old you are. Whether you are twenty or eighty, you want them, just once, to say “good job” even though you know they are incapable. [Read: Relationship with a narcissist – What it really feels like to love one]

18. You learned that the world was not safe

Your parents would constantly be in competition with you. Lying, physically punishing, or hurting you emotionally, were all fair game. That taught you that the world is not a safe or a fair place to be. You see the relationships through a negative lens.

Being raised by narcissists can be unbearable. Learning early that you are left to your own devices, that your concerns are yours *and yours only*, and that you are not very worthy of love or praise, you develop a poor sense of self that is guided by low self-esteem.

[Read: Daughter of a narcissistic mother – 18 lifetime consequences]

The good news is that you don’t have to feel the way that you do. There is a way to reprogram your brain to see the world as it really is, not as you were raised.

The first step is to recognize that you were abused, try to forgive, distance yourself, and seek out those people in your life who love you and are concerned for you.

[Read: How to think positive and reprogram your mind to stay positive]

Remember, you can’t choose your family, even if you were raised by narcissists. But you can choose who to love. So, choose wisely for a much happier adulthood going forward.

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Julie Keating
A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined in...
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