How Narcissistic Parents Affect Mental Health in Children

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For many children, childhood is a time of amazement, play and discovery. These children have parents who give them the security and security to explore the world around them and grow to reach their full potential.

But some children have one or more parents who lack the right skills or behavior to make their children feel safe, secure, and unconditionally loved. Children raised by someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) often experience prolonged trauma, and the effects of that trauma can linger into adulthood.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

When we hear the word narcissist, we often think of certain politicians or celebrities who are known for their boastful and arrogant behavior. And while these traits are definitely annoying, narcissism is far more complex and destructive for those in relationship with the narcissist, especially children.

The main characteristics of narcissism are a lack of empathy and an inability to recognize the emotional needs of others. Narcissistic parents also tend to see their offspring as competition while denying them an independent personality.

Some other key characteristics of narcissistic parents are:

  • Codependency
  • Inflexible
  • liar
  • Manipulators
  • Superficial
  • Deductible
  • supervisor

How Does a Narcissistic Parent Affect a Child’s Mental Health?

The following are some common views from children and adult children of narcissists about themselves and life in general:

Low self-worth

They grow up feeling that they are not seen or heard. Your emotional needs never really mattered.


Narcissistic parents make sure it is ALWAYS about them. Children grow up feeling 100% responsible for ensuring that their parents’ needs (financial, emotional, and otherwise) are taken into account. You don’t learn to draw healthy boundaries, just to please others.

Crippling self-doubt

Narcissists are liars and manipulators. They will “gaslighten” their children into believing a false reality. As a result, children grow up with debilitating self-doubts and never believe they can trust their own feelings.

If you believe that one or both of your parents were a narcissist and you are suffering from any of these after-effects, you CAN heal. Working with a therapist who specializes in recovery from narcissistic abuse can set you on the path to self-love, self-compassion, and greater joy and intimacy with others.

If you would like to explore treatment options, please contact me.


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