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How narcissistic parents impact their children into adulthood

Posted August 18

Narcissistic parents have a direct impact on their children whether they realize it or not. (Deseret Photo)

Narcissistic parents have a direct impact on their children whether they realize it or not — and the result is not positive.

According to the Huffington Post, researchers estimate that 1 percent of the general population has "full blown" Narcissistic Personality Disorder and 2 to 16 percent of people who seek therapy show signs of NPD.

"Narcissistic people have inflated ego; they often feel entitled, unique and misunderstood because of these traits and often they alienate themselves from others," the Deseret News reported. "They also experience less empathy toward others."

Children of narcissists are often manipulated into the person their parents want them to be. As a result, children of narcissists have increased anxiety, reduced self-worth and often measure their individual success through achievement, performance and production, the Huffington Post reported. Additionally, children of narcissists are more prone to attempt to please their parents with their personal achievements, but narcissistic parents find fault in those achievements instead of focusing on the positive.

"Narcissistic parents may see themselves as elite, but because they never achieved a certain level of success, they may find meaning in living vicariously though their children," Wendy Behary, author of "Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed," explained to the Huffington Post.

Since narcissists have low confidence and self-worth, they constantly criticize others but take immediate offense when criticism is offered to them. Because of their low self-worth, they show inconsistent emotions toward their children, rotating between criticism and praise with no apparent reason, according to Psychology Today.

They use words that are hurtful to children, including calling them "stupid" or attempted to guilt them with phrases like "I've done everything for you and you're so ungrateful" and "It's your fault that I'm not happy," according to Psychology Today.

"Because the narcissistic parent-child bond was is so distorted and corrupt, the offspring as adults tend to gravitate toward drama-laden, roller-coaster relationships — especially with romantic partners," Psychology Today noted.

Although the effects of being a child to narcissistic parents may extend into adulthood, there are a few tips on how adults can establish boundaries with narcissistic parents:

  • Remember the conversation is always about them. "When the initial question may be about the adult, it very quickly switches to the narcissist," according to PsychCentral. "Keep answers short and sweet to avoid giving away too much information. The narcissist will only use the additional data against the adult at a later date."
  • Reject verbal assault and threat. "If the adult becomes defensive the narcissist has won. Rather, the adult should ignore the comment of say 'That's not appropriate' and offer a distracting compliment," PyschCentral advises.
  • Show empathy. "You don't have to feel sorry for them, but it can be helpful to emotionally inhabit the feelings and choices of another person, to understand their thoughts and decisions, even if you don't agree with them," the Huffington Post suggested.

Email: mmcnulty@deseretnews.com

Twitter: megchristine5

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