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4 Key Signs You Were Raised by Narcissist Parents

David Wilson
August 3, 2023

Narcissistic parents will leave their young adult children with low self-esteem, often full of self-blame and unable to make decisions. 

These parents are incapable of accepting blame regardless of whether they are at fault, making kids feel bad with extreme guilt when things aren’t done according to the parent’s expectations and these parents need to be in complete control of every situation. 

The objective for this parent is that they appear perfect. A priority is that the child looks even better to the public around them because that speaks highly to the inner circle about how wonderful the parent is. 

There’s no concern with how any of the behavior reflects on the child. If this behavior is bad, there’s excessive criticism and putting down of the child for making the parent look bad. Many kids start to recognize that in order to receive love from the narcissistic parent, they need to act a certain way because the love from this parent is conditional or contingent upon this behavior.

The problem is the bar constantly rises, forcing the child to do better continually, an unending cycle of dysfunction because love remains a temporary “prize.” It’s not on the same level as unconditional love; it’s inauthentic. Does this sound familiar? Were you raised by narcissistic parents? Let’s look at signs that you’re a product of a narcissistic upbringing.

Signs That You’re The Product Of Narcissistic Parents

Signs You Were Raised by Narcissists

The painful effects of narcissistic parenting follow a child into adulthood and impact how that person behaves in their life. Most individuals left with poor emotional behaviors and less than favorable relationship statuses are unaware these results are due to what is deemed a form of abuse in their childhood.

Narcissistic parents don’t feel love for their children in an unconditional capacity. They look at their kids as an extension of themselves. Anything they feel or do for their child should in some way benefit the parent or result in the parent looking like the hero in the situation. 

These parents are infamously unsupportive and only become the doting parent when the thing that their child is involved with will ultimately reflect positively on the parent. In saying that, a narcissistic parent is unable to meet their kids’ emotional and physical needs adequately primarily because these individuals have no empathy for the children. 

A parent/child relationship is one of safety, stability, security, and, above all else, compassion. Kids are vulnerable to their parents for every element of their wellness. A parent has the ability to impact your sense of self, mental and physical well-being, how you deal with relationships, and every other component of life. Here are signs you were the product of narcissistic parents.

1. You have difficulty voicing your opinion

As a child of a narcissist, it was expected that your opinion and that of your parents need to be one and the same. If they didn’t match, you were probably ridiculed or criticized until you agreed. If you chose to get upset or stood firm in your position, a narcissist would withhold love. Now that you’re an adult, when asked for opinions, the idea of there being repercussions for disagreeing with the majority frightens you.

You would prefer to stick in the background, go with the majority, and avoid standing up for what you believe to be the better option. You feel this makes you a favorite among friends, coworkers, managers, and anyone you come in contact with who needs someone to choose a side on a particular topic.

In reality, people who genuinely care for you want to know what you think. Employers want a staff member who can take the lead and think on their feet. It can have a major negative impact on romantic relationships, particularly when your partner needs to know your thoughts and ideas on moving forward.

2. You might struggle with your relationships

A narcissistic parent is exceptionally controlling, disallowing boundaries as you grow. This could lead to you looking for incredibly toxic partnerships in adulthood, ones where you’ll be in a codependent position. You may even prefer the companionship of narcissistic mates because this is behavior you’ve become familiar with and comfortable with; you wouldn’t know how to behave in any other sort of partnership.

3. Who are you?

When someone wants you to describe who you are, what you see for your life in the future, and where your interests lie, like in a career interview, you might find yourself stumbling to answer these questions. 

You always had someone stepping in to ensure the decisions you made reflected positively on them and would look good for their future. You’re unsure where you want to go with your life or who you want to be moving forward. 

4. Unhealthy behaviors have carried into adulthood

Narcissistic parents create an environment of anxiety for children that carries over into adulthood. With anxiety comes a slew of self-deprecating behaviors, often without a conscious thought that the behavior is happening.

For instance, if there’s extreme stress, an automatic reaction for a child of narcissistic parents might be to feed their emotions, compulsively eat, or choose to gamble or another equally unhealthy method of coping

These actions serve as substitutes for love and comfort that a child doesn’t receive from the narcissist. The actions follow the kid into adulthood. Instead of relying on people to satisfy their needs, these behaviors are their method for soothing stress and anxiety. The compulsions make them feel better, albeit only temporarily; thus, the acts become compulsory.


As a child of a narcissistic parent, privacy and independence are not respected. Instead, there’s complete control in an effort to ensure all behavior shows as a positive reflection on the parent. The kid is an extension of the parent’s life, someone to gain benefit from instead of a person to shower with unconditional love.

That ultimately develops into a normal concept for the child to carry into adulthood, disallowing the development of a healthy lifestyle, a balanced relationship, or even establishing much-needed boundaries.

As a child, it’s impossible to recognize the unhealthy bond, making it difficult to recognize the repercussions that will follow as an adult until it’s too late to change how it impacts your future circumstances.

The objective is to reach out for an objective viewpoint after the fact, usually a counselor who can work through the difficulties you’ve faced to help you move forward to a more healthful lifestyle. Is it possible to develop into a positive, productive person when you’re the product of a narcissistic upbringing? 

It depends on whether you recognize your parent’s faults and seek help for the repercussions. It’s not your fault, and you’re not alone in your effort to move forward from that abuse.

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David Wilson

David Wilson

David Wilson is a skilled clinical psychologist dedicated to enhancing lives through healing and growth. Specializing in empowering clients to overcome challenges, he offers personalized therapy that fosters emotional well-being and resilience. With a compassionate approach, David guides individuals on their journey to discover self-awareness, develop coping strategies, and find lasting happiness. Trusted and revered, he is committed to making a positive impact and nurturing positive change in every life he touches.

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