Four traits of a narcissistic parent

1.The narcissistic parent needs all of the attention in the room

The narcissistic parent must have all of the attention in the room at all times. If the narcissist believes for one moment that somebody else in the family is about to steal the limelight, (whether it be their child, sibling or even the enabling parent) the narcissist will most likely shame the victim, or invalidate the dire circumstances which have arisen for the victim.

The narcissistic parent may even try to out do the victims dilemma by creating a dilemma of their own that diverts the attention away from the victim, and brings the attention back to them.

The shaming process and vile discard of the family member needing attention will often involve the adult victim being thrown out of the family home, in what can sometimes be a domestic violence situation.

Often the teenager or adult child of the narcissist will be asked not to return to the family home until they decide to apologise for the event which took place.

The narcissist has absolutely no empathy for the misfortunes of others. Be it physical abuse or assault, the narcissist will feel nothing but contempt for the victim of abuse, believing that they do not have the right to steal away their attention.

In the mind of the narcissist they are the one who has had the harder life, and how dare you assume that you are entitled to take this aspect of them away from them by asking for attention.  In their eyes they are the true victim.

Narcissist as attention junkie

Some narcissists are so addicted to attention that they will even set up situations to gain attention at their children’s expense. It is not uncommon for narcissistic mothers to lie to the enabling father about how their child behaved while their father was at work.

This is in a bid to create drama, which of course the narcissist thrives on, because drama is attention. The mother will exaggerate the child’s behaviour, or lie about the child’s behaviour in a bid for narcissistic supply and pity. This scenario allows the narcissistic mother to be the centre of attention again, a position where she is able to feign victim hood and make claims that she has such bad children and doesn’t know what to do.

Again, there is no empathy for the emotional damage these lies will create for the child.

This lack of empathy pinpoints a major deficit within the narcissist. Not only does the narcissist lack empathy, but they also lack humanity – which sits at the very core of their true self, and officially makes them emotionally, and sometimes even physically dangerous.

2. Must be in control of all of the information in the family unit

The narcissistic parent will use particular methods to ensure that he or she is the only person with the means to control all of the information in the family unit.

Like a puppeteer, these methods will ensure that he or she has complete control of the actors in his or her performance.

The divide and conquer method: This method of control allows the narcissistic parent to maintain complete control over their children, by encouraging dissent between them. This prevents the victims from uniting in opposition against the narcissist who must use a lot of smoke and mirrors to deflect from their emotionally dangerous behaviour.

Scenario 1:

  • The narcissistic parent may say to Bob:

‘Mary Jane doesn’t want you to borrow my books Bob.’

  • The N parent may say to Mary Jane:

‘Bob doesn’t like it when I give you lots of attention MaryJane.’

Scenario 2:

Bob: ‘Can I borrow the lawnmower mum.’

mum: ‘Mary-Jane doesn’t want you to borrow the lawnmower Bob.’

Bob most likely walks away thinking, ‘who the hell does that sister of mine think she is.’

Scenario 3:

  • Narcissistic parent: ‘MaryJane, Bob borrowed your pencil today, and I told him that he really should ask before he takes your things without asking. It really isn’t very nice now, is it?’

The narcissist is planting seeds in Mary Jane’s mind about Bob being inconsiderate, and potentially an enemy to MaryJane. This will at some point create dissent between Mary Jane and Bob.

These lies which may have a hint of truth, are in effect most likely going to create a divide between MaryJane and Bob. These two may end up having a big fight over something unrelated in front of the Narcissistic parent, who gets to sit back and watch the show.

Why doesn’t the narcissistic parent want the children to get along?

The narcissistic parent does not want their children to get along because this parent doesn’t benefit by their children having good relationships. If the children had good relationships, the parent would not have drama, which means a lack of narcissistic supply, a lack of attention, and the possibility of the narcissistic parent coming undone.


  • The drama between Mary – Jane and Bob distracts the children from the narcissist’s behaviour and obvious shortcomings.
  • The narcissist divides Mary-Jane and Bob, so as the two siblings will not share concerning information about their parent. This ensures that the parent never gets found out, and never becomes united against by the two siblings.
  • The discontent between the children allows the parent to complain about the hardship he or she endures as a parent who has to watch their children fight all the time. The parent gets to tell every one about what ungrateful and bad children they have, which in turn, gives the parent attention.

3. Will eradicate anybody who isn’t afraid to bring the narcissists shortcomings to their attention

Anybody who disagrees with the narcissist’s opinion on any given topic has to go. It is not uncommon for a narcissistic parent to throw a teenage child, or even an adult child out of the family home for having simply disagreed with the narcissist’s opinion.

The scapegoat child is usually the truth teller in the family, the most abused, the most distressed about the dynamics in the family, and the first to see through the narcissistic parent. They are also the most democratic child; and the child most willing to challenge the narcissist about their abusive behaviour.

The exposure of the narcissist’s shortcomings threatens the narcissist’s false self, and could possibly ensure that the narcissist becomes in touch with their real self, whom they abandoned long ago. This is the ashamed part of themselves which reveals all of their shortcomings, and holds them accountable.

The scapegoat holds the truth, and could very well disarm the narcissist, which could shatter the narcissist’s relationships with others when they finally realise that the human -being they have loved and trusted for years on end, is in fact an abuser.

In these cases the narcissist will formulate a very calculated plan to eradicate the scapegoat. The narcissist will severely smear the scapegoats name, tell terrible lies about the scapegoat, or use mind control techniques to brainwash the other siblings into thinking that everything is the scapegoats fault. The other siblings will ultimately accept the narcissists stories as gospel, and will often proceed to shame the scapegoat over a period of months before the final showdown, and discard.

4. Has a Golden child and a scapegoat

The narcissistic parent can only love or hate. There is no middle ground. They hate one child, and adore the other – which is incredibly painful for the child who is hated and given a life time role of being the ‘family scapegoat.’

With mind control and brainwashing, the narcissistic parent will manipulate the scapegoat’s sibling’s to bully them consistently, and side against them in both childhood and adulthood.  The children happily engage in the scapegoating of their sibling.

The scapegoat is often the second child of a narcissistic parent, and can do no right. The other children are never at fault for shaming or abusing the scapegoat. However, if the scapegoat defends themselves against the other children the scapegoat is still at fault. Therefore the scapegoat loses their credibility and their voice in the family unit.

The scapegoat often exhibits an incredible amount of emotional distress in childhood over how they are being treated. However, when they show their emotions they are then pathologized as being crazy, angry, insane, and neurotic by the narcissistic parent, and the other siblings.

As a consequence the scapegoat often feels as though they are crazy, that they are bad – and they usually experience a lot of self-hate due to all of the rejection and abuse.

The family will never release the scapegoat from the role as the crazy person, and they will forever try to goad and gaslight the scapegoat back into their role. Psychologists often advise the scapegoat to leave the entire family, and to stay away from anyone who has anything to do with the family.

The benefit in this mess for the scapegoat is that they usually seek out therapy first, and are the first child out of the siblings to find true healing.

This is a great outcome for someone who usually goes into therapy with a lot of self – hate and shame.

The golden child

The narcissistic parent encourages all of the children in the family to adore the golden child. The golden child represents to the narcissistic parent all of the good things in the N parent, whilst the scapegoat represents to the parent all of the things within themselves that they hate.

In adult – hood some of these golden reject the role and refuse to be the golden child any longer. However, other golden children have no idea that they are even the golden child – and they just think that they have this ability to do everything right.

However, some golden children truely believe that they are the special child. They believe this at the expense of the scapegoated child/ or children, and will ultimately align with the narcissistic parent to abuse their scapegoated sibling.

This golden child has an investment in continuing on with this role. It is very common for the narcissistic parent to buy the golden child, and to continually compliment the golden child in the hope of being forever bound to the golden child.

The Golden child continues on this destructive path at the expense of their emotionally destroyed scapegoated sibling, whom most likely cared for, and nurtured the golden child at a point in the golden child’s life.

In the mind of some scapegoats, the golden child has taken on this role at their expense, and they often feel incredibly betrayed by their golden – child sibling.

A harsh reality for the scapegoat and the golden – child is that the golden – child will never know how much the narcissistic parent has absolutely humiliated and psychologically annihilated the scapegoat/ or scapegoats.  How could they? After all, the golden child has had a much more ‘love and light’ type experience compared to the scapegoat.





  1. Fernanda Fonseca | 7th Feb 18

    I want to thank you so much for this text! I’m on a group about narcissistic mothers and I took the liberty of translating this post to Portuguese. It was like a breakthrough into the daughters finally understanding their mother’s behavior and they think about things. Even for members who are older and have been part of the group for some time now. You have a very special way oh writing. I’ve read so many narcissist texts but no one made such an accurate perception of her. I can’t thank you enough!

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