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This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

Narcissistic Parents Are Harmful To Children

Did you grow up with a narcissistic parent? Both my mother and father were and, unfortunately, I was the brunt of their angry and selfish behaviors. Narcissists have an inordinate fascination with themselves. They would rather risk the loss of true relationships than reveal a chink in their fragile egos.

To successfully negotiate conflicts within a relationship is healthy but almost impossible when living with a person who already has all the answers. This behavior too often crosses over into becoming cruel and abusive.

Described below is a contrast between narcissistic and secure parents.1

Narcissistic Parents

  • Turns every conversation to him/herself.
  • Expects you to meet his/her emotional needs.
  • Ignores the impact of his/her negative comments on you.
  • Constantly criticizes or berates you and knows what is best for you.
  • Focuses on blaming rather than taking responsibility for his/her own behavior.
  • Expects you to jump at his/her every need.
  • Is overly involved with his/her own hobbies, interests or addictions and ignores your needs.
  • Has a high need for attention.
  • Brags, sulks, complains, inappropriately teases, and is flamboyant, loud and boisterous.
  • Is close-minded about his/her own mistakes. Can’t handle criticism or gets angry to shut it off.
  • Becomes angry when his/her needs are not met and throws tantrums or intimidates.
  • Has an attitude of “anything you can do, I can do better.”
  • Engages in one-upmanship to seem important.
  • Acts in a seductive manner or is overly charming.
  • Is vain and fishes for compliments. Expects you to admire him/her.
  • Isn’t satisfied unless he/she has the “biggest” or the “best.”
  • Forgets what you have done for them yet keeps reminding you that you owe them today.
  • Threatens to abandon you if you don’t go along with what he/she wants.
  • Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive or touchy if you express your feelings.
  • Tells you how you should feel or not feel.
  • Cannot listen to you and cannot allow your opinions.
  • Is more interested in his/her own concerns and interests than yours.
  • Wants to control what you do and say – tries to micromanage you.
  • Attempts to make you feel stupid, helpless and inept when you do things on your own.
  • Has shallow emotions and interests.
  • Uses emotional blackmail to get what he/she wants.
  • May engage in physical and/or sexual abuse of children.

Secure Parents

  • Meets the emotional and physical needs of their children.
  • Has healthy boundaries and can be assertive in stating them.
  • Respects their children’s boundaries and rights to be safe.
  • Resists intrusion and mind games by others.
  • Has strong, positive values and priorities for the family.
  • Allows their children to express their feelings.
  • Uses appropriate self-disclosure.
  • Has the ability to develop intimacy and happy relationships.
  • Does not physically and/or sexually abuse their children to get their selfish needs met.


1 “Children of the Self Absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents,” Nina Brown, Oakland, CA 2001, New Harbinger Publications

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