If you’re indecisive, often blame yourself, and have low self-esteem, it might be a sign you were raised by narcissistic parents. Such parents are controlling, often put the blame for their mistakes on others, and make their children feel bad if they don’t do what’s expected of them.
We at Bright Side think it’s important to recognize these signs because if you were raised by a narcissistic parent, understanding this might help you find a way to heal.
1. You never feel good enough.
Narcissists feel like they’re more important and better than everyone. And they want their child to look just as ideal too, to make them look better in the eyes of others. If you behave the way your parent wants you to behave, you’ll be able to gain their love that’s conditional on you fulfilling their expectations and desires.
You can get stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to gain that love by doing whatever they want, and you might feel like you’re never doing enough because the love you get is only temporary, and it’s not the same as unconditional love.
Your parent might have also constantly criticized you because you were never able to do exactly as they said. Or maybe you did, but they were unsatisfied with the result or the reaction from others. This feeling of never doing enough or not being good enough can transfer to adulthood and affect other relationships and your self-esteem.
2. You’re afraid to voice your opinions.
If your opinion didn’t match that of your parent, it was probably met with aggression and led to punishment. If you didn’t agree with your parent on something or were upset about how they treated you, they wouldn’t accept that and would even withhold love. As an adult, it might be difficult for you to challenge others and speak up because of that.
3. You might have problematic relationships.
You might notice that some of the relationships you have are unsatisfying, and they might even be toxic. For example, because narcissistic parents often control their children and don’t know their boundaries, you might find yourself in a co-dependent relationship. You might even notice that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist too because it can be hard to choose someone completely different from what you were familiar with as a child.
4. It might be hard for you to become independent.
Narcissistic parents like to control their children. They want them to do things a certain way because they believe that only they know what’s right. So they make all your decisions for you, and once you become an adult, it might be hard for you to finally start thinking on your own and do things your way. And narcissistic parents don’t want you to become more independent because then they’ll lose the one person in their life they could control to get love and praise from.
5. You might feel like you don’t know who you are.
You might not know what your interests and needs are or what you really want in life. That’s because, as a child, you were discouraged from exploring yourself. You couldn’t be yourself because your parent already decided for you what you needed to be.
6. You might have anxiety.
As a child, you probably felt anxious around your parents. You always needed to make sure that you were doing everything the way they wanted to, otherwise, you could get yelled at or punished. This anxiety might stay with you later in life and transfer to other relationships.
7. You might have some unhealthy behaviors.
When you don’t get love from your parents, you seek it elsewhere. So you might struggle with compulsive behavior in your childhood and adulthood. It could be overeating or compulsive shopping, for example. Such things act as substitutes for love and temporarily make you feel better.
8. You’re a people-pleaser.
Because you constantly had to make your parents feel better about themselves as a child, you might do the same thing for other people as an adult. You forget about yourself, and you might even think that what you need isn’t as important as what others need. You might feel afraid of upsetting others and try to accommodate them in every way.
9. You might constantly blame yourself.
Your parents might have used guilt to manipulate you into doing what they wanted you to do. Narcissistic parents will also never allow you to say that they did something wrong, proving that they’re imperfect. So they might make you feel guilty for what they’ve done, or for not appreciating them enough as a parent.
As a child, this probably caused you to blame yourself for everything, also because it was important for you to maintain a “good” relationship with your parents and you didn’t want to upset them. This can lead you to blame yourself in adulthood as well, even if something isn’t your fault.
10. You might struggle with setting boundaries.
Your privacy and independence were probably never respected in childhood. Your parents needed to control every aspect of your life. And because it was something normal back then, you might notice that it’s also hard for you to set boundaries in other relationships.
Do you recognize yourself or someone you know in any of these situations? Do you have any advice for people who were raised by narcissistic parents?