Characteristics of a narcissistic parent



Characteristics of the narcissistic parent vary considerably. However, the general consensus is that narcissist’s are obsessively preoccupied with themselves. Absolutely everything revolves around their emotional state, their insecurities, and the activities which are of importance to the narcissist.

Narcissists have a ‘sense of entitlement’. This in itself is the hallmark trait of narcissism – and a major reason why narcissist’s are so damaging to their children.

Narcissists believe they are entitled to:


  • steal from others
  • endless amounts of attention
  • denigrate their children unnecessarily
  • interfere in the lives of their children
  • pick their children to bits
  • steal away from the child, the child’s confidence, self-esteem, rights to be a seperate identity – and the human right to have seperate beliefs and ideas
  • ruin their children’s relationships with other people

Narcissist’s honestly believe that they are entitled to special treatment, they can do whatever they like without consequences, and that social norms and boundaries do not apply to them. They have absolutely no problem asserting this apparent human right to be the dominant being in the room, and the only dominant being in the room, to those around them.

However, the behaviour of the narcissist becomes especially devastating when there are children involved. The years of damage done to these little people is often irreparable, and will travel with them well into adulthood.


The narcissist is extremely arrogant. They perceive themselves as being superior to other people, and better in every way.

Complete lack of empathy

Narcissist’s have absolutely no empathy. It is not uncommon for narcissistic parents to not even comfort their child when they are in physical pain.

Narcissist’s can only think about their own distress. If the child is upset because they are frightened, nervous, or in pain; the narcissist will often appear to be completely annoyed that the child has needs, and requires their emotional support.

Feelings often mesmerise narcissists, and also confuse them. Narcissist’s don’t experience a wide variety of feelings; and are often limited to rage, anger and jealousy.

When the child becomes upset, they are often told that they are being ungrateful, a naughty child, or a troublemaker. There will be absolutely no comfort for this child. Instead, they will most likely be rejected in their time of need, and made to feel bad because they dared have a feeling.

Talks about themselves all of the time

The narcissistic parent talks about themselves all the time. Even if the conversation doesn’t start out about themselves, it will always end up back in that direction.

The narcissistic parent will engage in:

  • grandiose conversation highlighting all of their achievements
  • conversations depicting the narcissist as martyr, victim, and misunderstood person in a cruel world
  • hours of conversation with their child about the child’s so called emotional problems (the one’s that would never exist if it wasn’t for this parent).
  • conversations where they ramble for hours about how amazing they are, and how much everybody at work adores and appreciates them.
  • conversations that accuse people of being jealous of them, difficult, and hard to get along with.
  • conversations that smear, degrade and denigrate the names of really good people; often relatives that have clued onto the narcissist. These ramblings can go on for hours.

It is not uncommon to be on the phone with a narcissist for two hours or more without getting a word in.

Demanding of all of the attention

The narcissistic parent will often create drama in the lives of the children, and the enabling parent just to get some attention. If one of the children is getting too much attention from the enabling parent, the narcissist will often become jealous, and envious of the child for having a good relationship with the other parent.

It is not uncommon for narcissistic parent’s to:

  • say the child did something they didn’t do, just to get attention from the other parent
  • interrupt personal time between the parent and child by becoming extremely irritating and jealous – just so as the parent and child will end the conversation, or time spent together, through fear of the narcissist’s rage
  • become upset about silly petty issues just to get some attention

Critical of their children, day in day out

The narcissistic parent is critical of the children day in and day out. The children continually hear how bad they are, how demanding they are, and how rude they are. The narcissist will often slot very subtle, sly remarks into the conversation- even at times when the parent and child are having a lovely time. On these occasions, the parent will throw in a sly nasty remark, belittling the child, just as a subtle reminder for the child to know their place, and to never get too comfortable.

Child as an extension of the narcissist

The child of a narcissist does not have their own identity, and it unlikely that they will become their own person ever; even in adulthood, unless they entirely remove themselves from the narcissist at some point.

Children of narcissist’s are complete extensions of the narcissist. They must believe what the narcissist says to be the truth, adore the narcissist’s ideas – and share and believe in their ideas or values. The child never learns to completely seperate themselves from the narcissist, or anybody else.

The children continuously need to do regular risk assessments of what they are about to say to the narcissist, before they even speak or act.

In adult life, the children of narcissist’s can often become overly sensitive to the moods of others, hyper-vigilant, peacekeepers; and may even spend their lives trying to please everybody else around them.

Children as bad, and the reason for all of the narcissist’s problems

The narcissistic parent consistently takes their anger our on their children. It is not uncommon for the narcissist to say things to children such as:

  • ‘If my children weren’t so difficult, life would be so much better.’
  • ‘Oh, my children, they’re just so bad. Other people’s children don’t behave like them.’
  • ‘Why did I have to get children like these ones.’
  • ‘Johnny just can’t do anything I tell him.’
  • ‘You know Sam, I really think Lisa will push everybody away when she gets older.’
  • ‘Oh, our children are never happy. Nothing is ever good enough for these kids.’
  • ‘Oh, they fight all the day everyday. Jo and Sam are out of control.’

Always right

The narcissist is always right, and cannot accept a difference opinion. If the child challenges the narcissist, they are often raged at, psychologically derailed – and,  in some extreme cases they may even be asked to leave the premises.

Becomes envious of the child’s independence

Being a young adult in a punitive, narcissistic house – hold can be very difficult for the child of a narcissist, and even impossible to maintain.

The parent is often domineering, interfering – and may even try to stop their children from having intimate partners. The parent often becomes more and more dominant in their child’s life than ever before, once they realise they are losing their control over the child. As the child becomes more and more independent, the parent literally tries to become a part of the child.

Children of narcissist’s often deny their natural desire to want to have a partner, because they know all hell will break loose once the parent finds out.

The fear of telling the parent about having a partner can almost be emotionally paralysing to the adult – child. The narcissistic parent will instantly rise to their feet and begin pacing the room wondering if the person is good enough, why their child needed a partner in the first place, and why they had to choose this one.

It is not uncommon for these parents to absolutely panic and lose the plot when their adult child begins to start dating.

In fact, any decision made by the narcissist’s adult child may well be questioned, probed at, picked to pieces – and be deterred from by the narcissist’s adult child, towards the end of the conversation.

These young adults often panic while informing their parent about their new job, the new partner, the new car, or the decision to defer from uni; all due to the absolute interrogation from the parent.

These parent’s often stalk their children when they go out and have a drink, look for them when they go out with friends, hunt them down if they stay out too late, and ring endlessly until they come home.

Narcissist as parent

Narcissistic parents often see their duties as parents in two different ways.

Some narcissists will:

  • either suffocate the child
  • engulf them
  • need to know everything their child is doing
  • listen in on every private phone call
  • become involved in, and a part of every friendship
  • be completely possessive of the child
  • read every private letter
  • Be way too strict, and even dis – allow the child as teenager to participate in normal teenage interactions with other teenagers. They may rarely allow them to associate with friends, or to attend the occasional party.
  • Encourage education, goals and success
  • Appears to care to some degree about the well-being of their child

The other extreme is the narcissist who:

  • creates the latch key – kid
  • spends all their time away from the child doing activities they enjoy at the expense of the child’s emotional well-being
  • emotionally neglects their child, yet maintains that the child is still an extension of them, and must not complain about the lack of attention
  • Leaves the child unattended, even at night while they work the night shift
  • allows the child to do what ever they like because they, the parent, do not want to deal with the child
  • Appears to be very disengaged from the child, and shows very little care about the child’s future

Separates people into pairs

A narcissistic parent views everything in black and while; there is no grey area. This lack of grey means that wherever there are two people, there will always a ‘good,’ and a ‘bad’ person.

  • In a family of four, it will be likely that the parent will have two ‘good’ kids and two ‘bad’ kids.
  • In friendships there will be one ‘good friend’, one ‘bad friend’.
  • There will be one ‘good’ grand – child, and one ‘bad’ grand – child.
  • The narcissistic adult child may be the ‘favourite’, and their partner may be the ‘bad’ person.


The narcissist will never deal with their grievances with their children directly, like healthy parent’s do. Instead they will discuss with every other member of the family the problem they are having with their child. This forces the other person to become a part of the triangle.

often, the parent has only told the other children a very small amount of information in regard to what is going on. They may have lied, exaggerated, and belittled the other sibling for no good reason. Triangulation depends on one person sitting in the middle controlling the information flow.



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