Everyone has heard the word narcissist at least once in your lifetime; perhaps you were even called the word (that’s not the point of this particular post by the way). And if you haven’t heard the word before in your life then you have come to the right place.
So, who is a narcissist? There are many things that go into explaining the traits of a narcissist but putting it in simple terms; a narcissist is a person who has an inflated sense of importance which cannot be tampered with. The sense of self that they have cannot be called out or poked at, not for any reason; if you do try to poke at it, you will be bitten very hard.
For example, if I believe that I am the most beautiful person in the world; nobody in my friend group can say any different or it will pose a big problem for them, I will find ways to stomp on them and make them say what I want them to say which is that I am the most beautiful person in the world.
Narcissism is not a good thing to be, it is a personality disorder and unfortunately for some people; they were raised by people who possess this disorder and they didn’t even know it, instead, they accepted their fate and collected all that they were dished by the narcissistic parent.
If you grew up in a very difficult household where you were not so sure that you were loved or you were treated like an object instead of a person then chances are that one of your parents is a narcissist and they made themselves happy at the expense of the happiness of the rest of the family.
To confirm your suspicion, here are the signs that you were raised by a narcissistic parent.
1. The Guilt Trip/Emotional Blackmail
Your parent(s) use guilt to get you to do the things they want you to do; especially things they know that you don’t enjoy doing. They use guilt to make you apologize during an argument even when you do nothing wrong. They often say things like “I feed you, I clothe you, and I give you shelter, and this is the thanks I get” or “I carried you in my womb for nine months” or “I sacrificed everything for you. I sacrificed my life to take care of you”.
If your parent(s) say things like this, they only do it to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do and that is not right. Just like fear, guilt is not a good feeling and nothing good comes out of it especially unearned guilt (when you do nothing wrong).
It is different if you do something wrong and you feel guilty for it but if it is a case of making a decision for yourself and they guilt trip you into doing things the way they want (e.g. choosing a life partner or career path) then you better stand your ground.
Government prisons feed, clothe and shelter prisoners too and you didn’t ask anyone to carry you for nine months; they chose to when they decided to have children. You didn’t ask anyone to have you, your parents decided to have you and it is their responsibility and duty to take care of you no matter what. Don’t let them guilt trip you into a life that you do not want. Don’t let them guilt trip you into a life of misery.
2. They ignore your accomplishment to your face
The narcissistic parent will ignore your accomplishments in your face but praised you when you are not around them. Let’s say you win an award in school or at work; when you tell them, they either ignore you or criticize you for that award but when you leave their sight, that parent brags to neighbours or strangers about your award. Some will go as far as posting on social media just to get the attention and the praise of your award; the same award that they ignored or criticized you for. It mustn’t even be an award; it could be anything that you are proud of; something that means a lot to you.
Your parents are supposed to be your number 1 cheerleaders; part of their job is to support you in your endeavours and celebrate your accomplishments. There is something off when someone ignores you to your face and praises you when you aren’t around, it is called using your accomplishment to gain validation and attention from the world. Don’t accept that this is normal.
3. You do everything they want and expect of you but it not enough
You went to the school they wanted. Studied the course they wanted you to study; even chose the partner and career that they wanted of you but you still feel like it is not enough. Let me tell you for free now; IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH. As long as you are still doing the things they want in order to gain their conditional love, you will remain in the cycle of trying to please them all your life. A life lived to solely please others, is a sad and unfulfilled one.
4. You cannot function as a fully independent person
If you are an adult and you cannot function independently then you were probably raised by a narcissist. If you are lacking basic skills that can help you to be more independent or you see yourself financially dependent on your parents with no encouragement from them to push you to become independent, then one of your parents is most likely a narcissist. They do this to keep you under their control, the less power you have, the more power they have over you.
If you aren’t sure about this, there is something you can do to test if they want you to become independent or not; start making moves towards becoming independent. If they are supportive about it fine but if they kick against it then you have a lot to think about. But note this… As an adult child, it is unhealthy for you to be totally dependent on your parents.
5. You are either the black sheep or the golden child of the family
The black sheep of the family is the child that could never do right and was constantly condemned and criticized while the golden child of the family is the child that did everything the parent wanted and was praised all the time, mostly for no reason.
If you are the black sheep of the family, then you were the child that always stood up to the narcissistic parent and therefore was the most hated. Narcissists don’t like to be called out on their actions because they are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions and this is why they always do their best to make the life of the black sheep a living hell. It is an attempt to stop you from calling them out.
If you are the golden child of the family, then you were the child who didn’t want any problems and did everything you were asked to do without asking any questions. Your entire life was controlled by this narcissistic parent and every time you wanted to protest you heard things like “I am doing this for you. I am doing this for your own good”. You often watched how your sibling (black sheep) was constantly berated even for things that you did wrong.
Children of a family can switch back and forth between these two positions depending on what is going on in the family at the time. And if you were neither the black sheep nor golden child of the family then you were probably the ignored child; nobody told you anything, they just let you do your thing; mostly hiding away out of your parents’ sight.
6. What you want never matters
Your wants and needs doesn’t mean anything to them because it is always and only about them. Even when they do something for you, it is because they want people to see what they are doing for you or they want something in return. Your voice was never heard and having a mind of your own is considered wrong or offensive.
7. You are constantly anxious, especially around them
You are never completely comfortable around your parent(s), even when they are happy and trying to have a lively conversation with you. You are constantly afraid that something is going to go wrong because of their presence; either an argument or a fight. And you are often right about it. Being around them is like walking on pieces of shattered glass; you can’t even breathe properly. You are supposed to feel completely comfortable around your parents; that feeling you feel is not normal.
8. They divide you and your siblings
Every time you tried or succeeded in getting close to your siblings they came between you guys. Either they told you bad things about your siblings or they told your siblings bad things about you to keep them away from you. This is a very essential thing they do to keep the golden child and black sheep apart; they don’t want the black sheep to ‘influence’ the golden child. God forbid the golden child grows the balls to stand up for themselves; it is a case of divide and conquer
9. They could never do wrong and if they did, it was your fault
This is essentially true of narcissistic parents. A narcissistic parent can never accept that they are wrong and even if they do; it had to have been you who made them act in such a despicable manner. If you heard things like “if you didn’t do this then I wouldn’t have done that” every time you tried to get your parent to see their wrongdoing, now you know why. Getting a narcissistic parent to accept that they have treated you wrongly or hurt your feelings is like trying to explain the internet to an ant; you can’t do it.
They will give you many reasons why they didn’t do wrong by saying things like “Your mother/father knows best” or “an elder has more knowledge than a young one”. They may even quote the bible to justify their actions; these are all manipulation tactics. Your emotions are valid and no person no matter their age knows everything in life. Everyone makes mistakes but it takes an emotionally mature person to accept their mistakes.
10. They projected their bad traits on you
Your parent(s) often called you something that you are not, when it was actually them who possessed that trait. For instance, your dad may have called you a liar but you both knew that he is a pathological liar or your mother told you how you loved the attention of men but you saw it and knew that she was the one who loved the attention of men.
It is easy for you to make excuses for them on this or for you to say that they were trying to discipline you but read this… we only see the things we hate about ourselves in others, especially in our children. Read it twice.
Read Also: WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU ARE TOO OLD?
11. They tell you how you can never make it in life without them
This is narcissism must. In order to keep you under their control, they tell you things like that to put fear in your heart and that fear will keep you right where you are; under their control. And if you do get out from under their control and make it on your own, they will not be happy for you. Because they are incapable of it.
12. Conditional Love
This explains itself, a narcissistic parent who knows that you need his/her approval and love will use it as a weapon against you. Taking the love and approval away when you do not do what he/she wants. The only person’s approval you should seek should be yours; your approval for yourself is the only one that matters. Plus the love of a parent is supposed to be unconditional
13. Physical and/or Emotional Abuse
A narcissistic parent sometimes will inflict physical or emotional wounds on you for their satisfaction and again to gain control over you. A small argument can quickly escalate for them and before you know it, they are either calling you hurtful words (words they know will destroy you) or they cause physical harm to you. It is a way of suppression, a way to keep you in line and under their control.
Some children had to apologize to their abusive parent(s) after going through an abusive episode. It is supposed to be called respect but it is abuse… abuse… abuse; when you apologize to the person who abused you, you are only showing your surrender and telling them that it is okay for them to abuse again.
14. They love to be the centre of attention
Your narcissistic parent loves attention and the moment they stop getting it, you realize that there is a sudden problem in the house. Nobody can sleep for the night because they cannot find a cup they deem worthy to drink water from. Out of the blue, they make up fights with your other parent or you; fights that make no sense. This is their craving for attention and drama manifesting itself.
They want to control everything going on in your life including your friends. If you have a parent who controls everything that goes on in the lives of all your family members then that parent is probably a narcissist. They believe that they are god and therefore try to rule over everyone else’s lives like a god. They say that they want to see you succeed but the truth is that it must be in the thing that they want and in the way they want. Nothing is supposed to go your way.
16. No empathy
One of the things that come with a narcissistic personality disorder is the lack of the ability to feel empathy. When you were sick they couldn’t show you any mercy; either they told you that you were lying about feeling sick or that you were weak. Your sickness was an inconvenience for them because you couldn’t get up to do the things you usually did for them.
17. You always feel the need to give them forced compliments and praises
The narcissist lives for the compliments and praises of others. You find yourself always giving them insincere compliments or you had to compliment them because they were constantly fishing hard for one. You find yourself praising them for performing their basic parental duties. For instance, if you had to rain praises on your parent for buying you books for school or you saw them telling the world how much they were doing to take care of you just to get the adoration of people. It’s a case where you had to sing for your supper.
18. Their gifts were like signing a deal with the devil
Every time they gave you a gift, you found that you had to pay for that gesture one way or the other. They buy you a car and you must run all their errands whether you had to work or not; doesn’t matter, you must do it as long as you were using the car they bought you.
19. No regard for your privacy/boundaries
They never knocked on your door before entering and if you told them to knock they reminded you that it was their house. They took you to the doctor to check if you are still a virgin, they went through your room every time you were not around, you couldn’t paint or decorate your room the way you wanted. They could enter your room at 3:00 am in the morning when you were asleep and switch on the lights just to ask you a flimsy question. You could not have privacy nor set boundaries. If you tried, it posed a big problem for you.
20. Their actions showed that they cared for objects more than you
Growing up you noticed that your narcissistic parent showed more emotions when the neighbour scratched the car than when you fell down.
21. Demon at home but Angel to the outside world
People told you how awesome that parent is, they told you that he/she is very nice, friendly, generous and amazing but you couldn’t marry that image with the person who was at home with you making your life hell on earth.
If you can relate with most of the signs listed above then you were clearly raised by a narcissist who did not love you; not because you are unlovable but because they are not capable of love, not even love for themselves.
They see the humans around them as objects. Can you love your clothes the way you love a human? No, you can’t and that is how narcissists see people… as objects, especially the ones who are closest to them.
They see their loved ones as objects that are an extension of them, which is why they feel the need to control your every move because whatever you do reflects on them. They do not see you as a human with a mind, soul and body of your own.
Nigeria is a place crawling with narcissistic parents and what makes it worse is the fact that Nigerian parents use religion and culture to justify their actions. To justify their abusive ways towards their children.
A father who takes his daughter to the doctor to check if she had sex the night before will tell you that he is trying to make sure she lives a chaste life in order to make heaven. A mother who emotionally abuses her son to the extent that he develops a mental illness like depression will say “honour your father and mother and your days may be long”. How about the part that says “do not provoke your children to wrath”? Narcissistic parents like to leave that part out.
If you just realized or confirmed that you were raised by a narcissistic parent, I am very sorry that you had to go through all that growing up. Knowledge is the first step to healing and now that you know, you can start looking for a way out. The first step to healing is to start working on yourself, especially your mental health; read, search and look for materials that can help you better yourself.
You can never change your parent; the only person you can change is you, so work on yourself. We have a self-care program that can help you start the journey so get it now; it is never too late.