Adult children of Narcissistic Parents / Family Members

“ The hurtful and stinging words of a narcissistic parent can linger in the mind of an adult child long after the adult has left home.”  

Shannon Thomas

Growing up with a parent or family member that suffers from narcissistic personality disorder presents many challenges.  You may suffer from extreme doubt about yourself,  difficulty with intimacy and be drawn to people who tend to be “gaslighters”.   Your family may present as high functioning and look perfect yet behind closed doors there is psychological abuse, emotional manipulation and “walking on eggshells”.    The narcissist often presents as highly accomplished, charming, well liked and  even adored by many.  The dynamic of the narcissist’s outward presentation and the reality of living with them can be the source of great distress. 



Here are some traits that a narcissist parent / family member may possess:

      • Emotionally manipulative
      • Brags or boastful about you or your achievements to others yet rarely supportive or  involved in what you value
      • Unable to provide healthy attunement and nurturance
      • Display sudden mood changes and are emotionally volatile
      • Will guilt you for not appreciating what they do for you
      • Lack empathy for others
      • No respect for boundaries

Common struggles for children or family members of a narcissist include:

      • Extreme self doubt/low self esteem
      • Guilt, shame, fear of succeeding or receiving too much attention
      • Insecure anxious attachments styles
      • Unhealthy relationships with other narcissists including romantic partners, friends and employer/work colleagues

Through the therapeutic process that includes reworking attachment issues,  the adult who has lived with a narcissistic family member and suffered the consequences can learn healthy boundaries, experience secure attachment and change their interpersonal relationships. 

Click the button below to download a pdf of an article I wrote for the BPD Central blog site:

“Healing for Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers”