People With Narcissistic Parents Grow up Having These 10 Traits

Narcissistic parents want their children to grow into whoever they decide they want them to be. This takes away who they are as individuals.

Being young and impressionable can be the perfect ingredients for manipulation, as narcissistic parents take it upon themselves to mold their children, shaping them how they best see fit. 

As a result, the children grow to be adults who have been mistreated over the years, and they carry traits – or evidence – that they grew up in a dysfunctional, narcissistic household.

These are the 10 traits people who have been raised by Narcissists often show.

#1 Low/Poor Self-Esteem

The usual trajectory of a typical child of a narcissist is that they grow up never feeling quite good enough or always feeling as though they have something to prove. Trying to gain attention can equal wanting to gain their approval and validation. 

It isn’t uncommon for a narcissistic parent to tell their child that they aren’t good enough or aren’t good at something – can you imagine how that must feel to a child who is trying their hardest to impress?

What does that lead to?

Crushing self-esteem, as the constant failure to meet the high and moveable standards of a narcissistic parent, affects their ability even to like themselves. 

#2 Fear of Abandonment

The fear of abandonment derives from having a childhood where you never really knew if the narcissistic mother or father (or both), were going to be there for you.

As they got swallowed up by their egotistical priorities, the child often came last on their list of importance. Sometimes, that may have been met with overwhelming love and affection to fill in the gaps.

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This push and pull of affection can lead to a fear of abandonment as an adult. Never knowing when or if someone will leave is a common trait of being raised by a narcissist.

#3 Highly Critical of Others

Children of narcissistic parents are equally as likely to grow up mirroring the parent in question – overtly using criticism as a tool for communication and lacking in ways that allow them to see how different and wonderful we all can be. 

Criticism comes second to none – as it would be something they had to deal with regularly and perhaps still do, even as adults.

#4 Levels of Anxiety or Depression

Anxiety presents itself commonly in children of narcissistic parents, as they spent their childhood with an overactive nervous system, keeping them on high alert for confrontation or conflict.

Never knowing what mood the narcissistic parent will be in is enough to make even the most relaxed person increase their cortisol levels, even from a young age.

Depression is also prevalent, as the unfolding of their past enlightens them in adulthood. It can be a real grieving process to comprehend what you went through and how you have suffered as a result – leaving room for depression to develop.

#5 Lack of Empathy

If you were raised in a house without empathy, you stand a chance to sway to the narcissistic parent’s side of having zero yourself.

Fell over and hurt yourself? Get up, you’ll be fine!

Failed a test at school? Well, you should have studied harder!

Have you felt unwell? Toughen up. I have to go to work, even when I’m sick, so you must go to school.

Where empathy is lacking, the lack can spread to you. If it was something you had to tolerate, so should everybody else, right?

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#6 Issues with Intimacy

Experiencing a lack of affection as a child can lead to not fully understanding how to produce or accept it as a child.

Eventually, that can lead to issues surrounding intimacy, where you are unable to express how you feel about somebody in healthy or normal ways because the affection of any kind just wasn’t modeled to you. 

Being shut out of opportunities to show love or receive is enough for any person to develop an insecure attachment style, whereby affection is prohibited or never encouraged – leading to low or no levels of intimacy in adulthood. 

#7 Lacking Emotional Regulation

How could anybody express their emotional state in a regulated manner if it was something they never had the chance to learn as children?

The narcissistic parent is not able to monitor or maintain healthy stress levels or responses, and that, in turn, will fire up an unhealthy response to anything as intense or stressful in the child. 

Healthy parents will encourage emotional reflection and give the time needed to help their children figure out what they are feeling, whereas narcissistic parents will do the complete opposite.

Where is the emotionally regulated happy ending in this? There isn’t one. 

#8 Competitiveness

Having to fight for the attention of your narcissistic parent will leave you, as a child, feeling that your only option is to make yourself seen and heard and be the best you can be.


So they approve of you and shower you with affection and compliments!

Does it work? 

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Perhaps momentarily. Being in the good books of the narcissistic parent never lasts long enough for you to feel safe and secure, so you are likely to carry the competitive streak in you as an adult, wanting to outshine everybody else and being envious of those more successful because it simply isn’t you. 

#9 Constant Apologizers

Thinking back to all the times the child apologized when they hadn’t even done anything wrong will haunt them into adulthood. 

‘Sorry’ is a word that keeps the peace. Used in childhood as the narcissistic parent baits you with their neglect or silent treatment to apologize or ask what you did wrong is never really going to leave you unless you work hard to understand that nothing was ever your fault – it was just a ploy by the narcissistic parent to keep control of you and ensure you know they are the boss.  

#10 Attachment Issues

Insecure attachments result from the fear that someone will leave you. As an adult, this can look like wanting to do everything to make them happy so they stay. 

More anxious attachment styles can look like jealousy or never feeling good enough for that person. 

This is because the adult child of the narcissist never really experienced a healthy, loving and secure home where they felt safe. 

Avoidant attachments are also likely, with people avoiding any offer of love in the first place because their model and idea of love as children were conditional and upsetting. 

It’s also sadly not uncommon for these attachment styles to cross over and become intertwined as traits of people who grew up with a narcissistic parent. 

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