Adulthood with a Narcissistic Parent
Let's Talk the Beginning (To Be Cont'd)
Many people have relationships with their parents that require "maintenance" and certain amounts of care, but the relationships can grow and even evolve into respectable adult relationships that can be nurturing and compassionate.
For many people experiencing that moment when their parent finally accepts them as an adult is one of the few parts of getting older that's worth looking forward to. Growing into a parent and sharing meaningful experiences, even having moments of understanding, is a redefining space for parents and their adult children. It can even be a memorable "exhale" when both people know and are comfortable with the work that they put into the relationship. This can be a moment of true recognition and mutual validation, for most people, and is experienced by most adults as their parents pass the torch in pride knowing that their child has become a fine human being. Most parents recognize the strength of their own efforts; unless that parent is a narcissist.
Being a child of a narcissistic parent makes growing up difficult and can create long-term issues. Living in a home that creates so much turmoil and requires "walking on eggshells" makes the rise to adulthood not only heavily coveted but sought after in ways that people can not understand. Becoming an adult and getting out of a house of dysfunction is not only a goal, but a right that every child growing up with a narcissistic parent earns and celebrates in their own way. As an adult that has survived a narcissistic parent, you can now be free to earn your own way in the world. To live the life that you choose and understand who you are as you see fit! It is the perfect time to shake off those old ways of overbearing need, and have a life that fits you, right?
Now is the time to live your life, right? Or is it?
Adults that survive narcissistic parents have the obstacles of learning how to navigate the world internally and externally. Now you may ask, what does that really mean? Doesn't everyone have to navigate their internal and external, what makes having a narcissistic parent so profound?
In summary, narcissistic parents use their children in many different ways to make their lives more acceptable to them. This includes some struggles that most people may know like high expectations and firmness when necessary, but it also includes other struggles such as:
How they are threatened by their child's independence and will minimize any value in their child's ability to be a capable adult. And/or as their children become very independent, their achievements are often ignored and unsupported, unless there is something in it for the narcissist.
Do these traits sound familiar?
Narcissistic parents use their child's need for a relationship with them to control. While it is typical for parents to use a child's experiences to assist them with teaching their child, "right" from "wrong," a narcissistic parent will use their child's experiences to prove that as the parent, "they are right," and "the child is wrong."
When these opportunities arise, a narcissistic parent uses their relationship with their child to create a level of control. Establishing a co-dependency that relies on their "knowledge" as the parent, while instilling a need for their child to work for their acceptance.
This environment that nurtures the narcissistic parent's ego diminishes the self-esteem of their child. Eagerness to please their parent and seek out validation through parental approval is often the result.
As an adult, there are many inner conflicts. As the transition into adulthood requires the ability to make solid decisions, a child surviving a narcissistic parent is conflicted in their own ability to make sound decisions, as well as has issues with guilt for meeting their own needs. These issues often bleed into professional life and personal relationships.