How to Recover From a Narcissistic Parenting

Being in a relationship with a narcissist , be it a significant other, friend, or co-worker, can have an effect that lasts for years, if not a lifetime. The same is true for being brought up to be a narcissist, although in this case, since the relationship is during the formation of a person, the consequences can be especially difficult to recover.

“Because narcissists are so self-centered, they lack the empathy to view others as individuals,” said Dan Neuhart , licensed family therapist and author of the Psychology Today blog, Demystifying Narcissism . “They inevitably teach their children not to focus on themselves, on what they need.” Instead, children are taught to channel their time and energy towards their narcissistic parents, while ignoring their own desires and desires.

A narcissistic parent influences all aspects of a person’s life

Raising as a narcissist can affect all aspects of a person’s life , from who they choose as a partner, whether they develop self-esteem and how they set and strengthen boundaries. Narcissistic children may also exhibit narcissistic behaviors themselves, repeating some of the things they observed in childhood, while they also tend to struggle with problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

“An adult raised by a narcissist can grow up and have incredibly low self-esteem,” said Karina Baltazar-Duran, a licensed family and family therapist at Thriveworks . “If you could only please your parent when you did something right, then you will not learn to accept your weaknesses and limitations.”

Honor what you did to survive

The legacy of narcissism can be tricky. This includes people who grow up mimicking certain behaviors they observe, as well as those who resist their parents even at an early age.

“Children are not completely powerless, empty vessels,” Neuhart said. “The role you choose in response to the narcissist to receive love to meet your needs will also define your legacy.”

Some children recognize early on that family dynamics are dysfunctional and deal with it by rebelling or passing unnoticed. Other children cope by trying to meet the expectations of their narcissistic parents, while others will play a role of peacemaker in the family.

None of these options are successful, but they usually represent the child’s best attempt to get what he needs in an environment where it is almost impossible to do. “It’s a matter of emotional survival,” Neuhart said. “While each role has its advantages and disadvantages, I think it is very important to respect what you have done to survive emotionally.”

Acknowledge what was not normal in your upbringing

It takes a long time to recover from exposure to a narcissist. In addition to understanding what your coping mechanism was, it is also important to unlearn certain behaviors that were considered normal during growing up. One of the first steps is to acknowledge the situation as it was.

“Growing up with a narcissistic parent can be very traumatic and admitting it can often be scary,” Baltazar-Duran said. “When I ask new clients if they have ever experienced anything traumatic in their life, they often say no, [but] over time I [will] learn about the traumatic moments in their life. People don’t often admit trauma in advance because they don’t define it as trauma. “

Learn to recognize healthy relationships

One of the most important steps to recovery is understanding what a healthy relationship looks like, which is certainly easier said than done. For some people, this happens naturally as they form relationships with people other than their immediate family. For others, this learning occurs during therapy as they unpack their experiences.

For many, this is a time-consuming and error-prone process. “Sometimes, if you don’t realize that what you grew up with was abnormal and unhealthy, you leave the house and unconsciously reach out to people like you,” Neuhart said.

As complex as this process is, it is very important in breaking the pattern of behavior. “It’s never too late to ask for help,” Baltazar-Duran said.

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