Hey, Psych2Goers! It’s fair to say that our parents are some of the most influential people in our lives. They basically give us our foundation by teaching us their values, beliefs, and opinions. However, it’s a new ball game if one (or both) of your parents happened to be narcissistic. Because it’s all about the narcissist, instead of teaching you, it’s more like forcing their beliefs on you. If you don’t agree with it, they may belittle you causing you to belief a lot of really awful, untrue things about yourself. With that said, let’s chat about 6 beliefs that you may have if you were raised by narcissistic parents.
Side Note: This is a disclaimer that this article/video is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you would like to discuss narcissism in your family.
Belief #1: I need to make sure everyone is okay.
When a parent is narcissistic, we all know the drill. It’s their world; we’re just lucky to live in it. That need to be the center of attention comes with the need to be attended to 24/7. This changes the typical parent/child role and reverses it. This results in the child becoming a “caregiver” and tending to the parent and their emotions like a parent should. You may recognize this person in your friend group as the “Mom” or “Dad” of the group. This belief that you need to care for everyone around you and make everything okay is a sign of a narcissistic parent.
Belief #2: If I say no or think of myself first, I’m rude or selfish.
Believing everyone else is more important than yourself can also be a sign of narcissistic parents. Boundaries are important, and they are healthy. However, if they do not benefit a narcissistic parent, they will do whatever they can to either get you to drop that boundary, or they might ignore it all together. To get you to drop the boundary, the narcissistic parent may call you names like selfish, rude, or even ask you how you could do that to them? An example would be a narcissistic parent asking you to lend them money, but when you say you don’t have any extra, they tell you you’re selfish and ungrateful. They might even throw in the ever-popular “But I raised you!” You’re not selfish or ungrateful. You let your parent know you didn’t have any extra this paycheck, and that is okay!
Belief #3: I need to go above and beyond for people to like or stay with me.
When you’re raised by a narcissist, they may put value on you for what you do not who you are. For example, your parent may praise you and how you get all A’s in class to other parents. They’re not saying how proud they are of your intelligence. They’re saying they’re proud of you for performing well and making them look good. As we grow older, this belief that we’re valued for our accomplishments turns into perfectionism or even an unhealthy attachment style in future romantic relationships. You are not loved for what you do. You’re loved for who you ARE! This belief that you’re only good when “doing” is from your narcissist parent.
Belief #4: If I don’t make myself exactly like them, I’m wrong.
With a narcissist, whatever they do and however they do it is the correct and best way to do that thing. Heck, if Ariel were a narcissist, she’d insist everyone who brushes their hair with anything but a “dingle-hopper” is wrong! So, if your parent is a narcissist, and they see you doing, saying, or even believing something different than they do, kind of like we said about boundaries, the narcissist will do or say anything to get you to abandon your way of doing things. The narcissist likes to make their victims almost an extension of them; no separation. To them, you’re telling them they’re wrong. In reality, you’re saying there’s an alternative way of doing or living. A narcissist can’t handle this made-up feeling of rejection, so they place that “wrong-ness” on you.
Belief #5: I’m too sensitive and need to stop being so dramatic.
Have you ever stood up to your narcissistic parent? I have. After moving away from them and graduating college, I finally decided to try grey-rocking. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Unfortunately, I had to make the decision to go no contact. When I let my parent know that I no longer wanted to speak to them and why, their response was “Oh, so you’re just going to be dramatic? You know I never treated you that way. You’re making things up so people have pity on you. Stop LYING to people!”
Stop what you’re doing, and listen. You are NOT being dramatic. Sure, they may ground you every now and then, but there is a difference between parenting and emotional abuse. This is, again, your parents’ feelings of rejection coming up and them not being able to cope with it. If you speak up and aren’t being listened to, more dismissed, this could be a sign of a narcissistic parent.
Belief #6: I don’t have anything to contribute.
Whether you’re talking about contributing to a cause, a conversation, a group project, or a romantic relationship, the narcissist needs to always be the best, the number one, the head honcho. Let’s say you and parents are talking about the new restaurant you all went to, and you begin raving about how good your meal was. If your narcissistic parent doesn’t agree, they may tell you that your palette is awful or you don’t know food. It can be about any topic, but if the narcissist feels undermined or intimidated by you, they will make you feel like you have nothing of value to add to any situation you’re in. This isn’t true. This is another sign of a narcissistic parent.
Belief #7: I’m not good enough.
In 2018, John Leggio did his dissertation for Alder University on narcissistic parenting. In his study of 198 participants, 106 believed their parent to be narcissistic. These 106 participants had significantly higher scores relating to depression and lower scores related to self-esteem than the other 92 participants. What does this mean for you? Basically, if you have been diagnosed with depression or show signs of depression paired with low self-esteem, it’s possible this is the result of narcissistic parenting not the truth.
Having narcissistic parents can really take a toll on you, especially in adulthood. The earlier you notice the signs, the quicker you can begin your healing journey! Take it from someone who is literally living this healing journey right now. It is possible to get to a better place. It may mean something different for everyone, but it is possible. Remember: when a negative thought pops up, ask yourself “Whose words are these? Are they mine or my parent?” Do you have a narcissistic parent? What did they make you believe? Let us know in the comments below!
As always, keep an eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content!
Need more info to tell if you have narcissistic parents? Check out 5 Signs of Narcissistic Abuse (Parents, friends, co-workers…)
The references used in and to compose this article are listed below:
Fjelstad, M. (2014). Stop caretaking the borderline or narcissist: How to end the drama and get on with life. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Moore, A. (2021, June 25). Were you raised by a narcissist? 15 signs + how it can affect you in adulthood. mindbodygreen. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/signs-you-were-raised-by-narcissists/
Shafir, H. (2021, July 13). 10 signs of being raised by Narcissists & Effects in adulthood. Choosing Therapy. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/raised-by-narcissists/
Leggio, John Nicholas. Adler School of Professional Psychology ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018. 10974938.