What Are the Signs of a Narcissistic Parent?

Children of narcissistic parents frequently experience relationship problems as they grow into adults.
Narcissistic parents may downplay the positive qualities and achievements of their children.
A narcissistic parent may disregard how their behavior impacts their children.
Narcissistic parents often impact the self-esteem of their children.
Narcissistic parents might discipline children for behavior that reflects poorly on the parent.
Narcissistic personality disorder essentially materializes as a feeling that the sufferer is somehow better than the people around him or her.
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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 27 May 2015
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A narcissistic parent has a high opinion of himself or herself, sets unrealistic goals, and is unable to empathize with the feelings of others. Narcissistic people are also prone to exaggerate any of their achievements, expect praise constantly, and have trouble recognizing authority. The chances of having a narcissistic parent are very low, with less than one percent of the earth’s population suffering from the condition. As with many psychological conditions, narcissism has varying degrees, so a parent may be slightly narcissistic, and the problem may therefore be more difficult to recognize.

The main symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder that should be evident in a narcissistic parent are a feeling of superiority towards others, fantasies of power or fame, and exaggerating achievements and talents. A child may notice that his or her parent is unable to empathize with the feelings of others or even recognize them, and consequently often take advantage of people to get things they want. This may be particularly noticeable when the child is unhappy, because the parent won't be able to show understanding of the child's issues, and will often appear entirely unemotional. A narcissistic parent will constantly tell his or her children about things they have achieved, and expect praise in response.


Children may also be made to feel inferior to the parent, which may be evident through the parent downplaying the positive qualities of their child and exaggerating their own in a competitive fashion. A narcissistic parent will also set lofty and unrealistic goals for his or herself and have fantasies of power. This will be evident to a child if he or she asks the parent what they hope to achieve in the future. He or she will also expect everybody to agree with plans or ideas they have, and may be hurt if this is not the case. A child may also notice that his or her parent feels rejected or hurt if they don't receive positive attention.

A son or daughter trying to determine whether he or she has a narcissistic parent should look out for several of the symptoms of narcissism before considering it a serious possibility. This is because the chances of having a narcissistic parent are very low, and ordinary arrogance is a more common explanation. It is also important for the observer to attempt to detach himself or herself from any preconceptions about the observed behavior. For example, one symptom of narcissism is taking advantage of other people to achieve selfish ends, but this is a subjective observation, and any preconceptions could lead to a false assumption that this is or isn’t occurring.

Narcissistic personality disorder essentially materializes as a feeling that the sufferer is somehow better than the people around him or her. This feeling of superiority often causes issues in other areas of life, such as relationships, careers, and finances. The cause of the condition is not fully known, but as with many psychological conditions, it is thought to stem from childhood. The underlying issue with this condition is generally thought to be low self esteem, which manifests itself as a desire to be better than everybody else. This is responsible for the majority of the symptoms associated with the condition.


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Post 2

The term narcissistic parent makes me think of parents who push their children into a certain sport and try to live vicariously through the children's achievements in the sport. They are loud and vocal and draw attention to themselves and their children through their boasting and cheering at games. Of course narcissistic behavior is different than a narcissistic personality, but sports is one area where I see narcissistic behavior.

Post 1

Life could be very difficult for a child with a narcissistic parent.

In addition to the attributes mentioned in the article, narcissism is usually associated with extreme vanity and arrogance.

In fact, the term narcissistic comes from Narcissus, a character in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection in the water.

A narcissistic parent is apt to feel that any child they do not consider beautiful is not a good representation of them or their own physical appearance.

As a result, the parent may shun the child or take great pains to try to improve his or her looks, whether through buying fancy clothes and make up or even forcing the child to have plastic surgery.

Any child being constantly told and reminded by his or her parent that they are not pretty or handsome enough is likely to believe that thinking and develop very low self esteem.

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