How to Protect Your Children From a Narcissistic Parent

Growing up with a narcissistic parent is one of the most confusing things for a child to witness and be a part of. When you’re young, nothing about their character makes sense. 

The house you live in somehow always feels ‘off.’ 

Anxiety is born from the narcissist’s inconsistent moods. Imagine living with somebody unable to be as vulnerable as you are by nature…

Hugs go neglected. Time is spent criticizing rather than loving, and nothing you do is ever good enough.

It is unfortunate when you share a child with a narcissist, but there are ways you can give your child at least some of the love and affection that is essential!

The Influence of Parents

It’s a parents job to provide love, nurture, affection, care and concern for their children. The vast majority of people view having children as a gift – but not the narcissist.

Children need to know that they are safe and secure. If their needs are met, they grow to be rounded individuals with all the tools ready to pass down to another generation. 

Having a narcissistic parent prevents that. 

Unfortunately, those caught up with one or both parents as narcissists are going to have more of an uphill climb due to the dysfunctional environment. 

Children don’t get a say in who their parents are, but they should have a level of protection growing up from the exposure to narcissists. 

More and more people are becoming acutely aware of this.

Children Generally Need:

  1. Somebody to listen to them
  2. Parents to represent them
  3. The ability to access their emotions
  4. A trusting and loving home
  5. Somebody to teach them what boundaries and consent are
  6. Parents who encourage and inspire
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Can a Narcissist Provide These Things?

To even ask that question is to suggest the narcissist can provide at least one thing…

It’s safe to say a narcissist provides zero of these 6 essential things. 

Listening? Forget it. The narcissist hears, but they don’t listen. They might drop in and pick out a few choice words if it suits them. 

Representing? No. Narcissists won’t want to represent anybody. Children to them are assets and extensions of themselves – nothing more.

Which means… the child of a narcissist must conform.

Protecting Your Children From a Narcissistic Parent

So what can you do to protect your own children from a narcissistic parent?

Don’t Apologize For Them

When your children’s faces drop at the witnessing of narcissism, it’s hard to process. You as an adult will be far more equipped to deal with their abusive, bullying ways but children? 

Your children?

It’s natural to want to apologize for the actions of your narcissistic partner. To excuse their behavior with an, “I’m sorry they are the way they are. I’m sure they’re sorry too,” isn’t going to cut it. 

Children are taught to say sorry for what they did wrong, with the promise to not do it again. You cannot make those same promises on behalf of anybody else, least of all a narcissist.

If you normalize toxic behavior, you’re far more likely to raise one of two children:

Those overly anxious and keen to please.

Those who follow in the footsteps of the narcissist.

Both should be avoided.

Support your children.

Don’t justify something you didn’t do.

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Defend The Child

Age doesn’t discriminate when it comes to narcissistic jealousy. An adult can be jealous of a child, even their own!

Jealousy may come from:

The child getting to much attention.

The child succeeding.

The child being overly clever or gifted at something.

The child being naturally bright, sparkly and shiny.

When jealousy rears its ugly head, the narcissist too can become just as ugly. As far as they’re concerned, a person is never too young or blood-related to be excused from their manipulation, control and down right abuse. 

Be Their Safe Space

As the consequences of parental narcissistic abuse unfold, your child is going to need a safe space to figure out their emotions. If it’s confusing for an adult to be gaslighted, it will be even more so for an impressionable child still figuring themselves out. 

A safe space can involve listening, empathizing, understanding what they’re saying, and continuing to be open for them to explore their feelings. 

Encourage All Emotions

I always see how easy it is for children to close off to certain emotions. If they’re told that crying is for wimps, or to ‘man up’ in other situations is to deny them of being able to feel vulnerable or sad. 

As children age, they will learn to shut down any emotion that makes them appear weak, and those usually come out in other ways such as anger, rage, resentment, anxiety or depression. 

Encouraging all emotions will mean they will always permit themselves to feel – something the narcissist can’t do. 

Reiterate Their Hobbies and Passions

The narcissist can brutally sweep away hobbies and passions.

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How dare my child be good at that, or better at it than me!

It’s baffling, right? I mean, even your own kids… I can’t fathom it. 

It’s your job as the caring parent to let them pursue what they love and alway reiterate that nobody can take their pride and passion for something away from them. 

Teach Them Boundaries

They aren’t going to learn what boundaries look like or mean from their narcissistic parent, so it’s down to you to be there for this.

Teaching your children boundaries and how to apply them means they’re far more likely to have stronger ones as they age. Non-negotiable boundaries are a narcissist’s worst nightmare. 

Help Them Understand “No”

No means no – and to you or I, that’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

Narcissists constantly try to push people to their limits. If they hear ‘no,’ they assume it wasn’t meant for them (that’ll be the entitlement talking). 

Teaching your child to say no can mean that in years to come, they will become stronger, more familiar and more confident in using the phrase. 

This includes aiming it toward the narcissistic parent!

Leave if You Have To

You know, I don’t know your circumstances, and I would hate to assume things are so terrible that you’d leave but…

…If things are so terrible, you should consider some kind of ‘what happens next.’ Fleeing an abusive relationship is a courageous and bold move that will get messier before it starts to get better. If protecting your children can only come from leaving, you must do what’s right for you. 

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