14 Signs Your Childhood Was Marred by Narcissism

2 weeks ago

If you find it difficult to make decisions, tend to blame yourself and have low self-esteem, it could be a sign that you were brought up by parents who are overly self-centred. Such parents are controlling, often blame others for their mistakes, and make their children feel bad if they don’t do what’s expected of them. We 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 will self-doubt.

Growing up with a narcissistic parent who frequently complains about their partner can have profound and lasting psychological effects on a child. This environment often leads to internalized negative beliefs and a distorted sense of self-worth. The constant exposure to criticism and blame can make a child feel responsible for the family’s dysfunction, fostering feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Over time, the child may come to believe that they are inherently flawed or unworthy of love and respect, simply because they have been conditioned to see themselves through the lens of their narcissistic parent’s negativity. This deeply ingrained belief can carry into adulthood, influencing relationships and self-perception, perpetuating a cycle of self-doubt and low self-esteem.

2. You never feel like you’re good enough.

Narcissists tend to believe that they’re more important and better than everyone else. And they want their child to look just as ideal as they do, so that they look better in the eyes of others. If you do what your parents want, they’ll love you. But it’s conditional. You have to fulfill their expectations and desires.

You might find yourself caught in a never-ending cycle of trying to gain that love by doing whatever they want. You might even feel like you’re never doing enough because the love you get is only temporary and not the same as unconditional love.

Your parent might also have been quick to criticize you because you were never able to do exactly as they said. Or maybe you did, but they weren’t happy with the result or how others reacted. This feeling of never doing enough or not being good enough can carry over into adulthood and affect other relationships and your self-esteem.

3. You’re afraid to share your thoughts.

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.

If you had a different opinion from your parents, they probably reacted with anger and punished you for it. If you and your parent didn’t see eye to eye on something or had a disagreement, they wouldn’t accept that and might even withhold love. As an adult, it might be tough for you to challenge others and speak up because of that.

4. You might have deep-seated feelings of inadequacy.

Being raised by a narcissist can profoundly impact one’s development and self-perception. Constant criticism and unrealistic expectations from a narcissistic parent can erode a child’s self-esteem, leaving them with deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. They may grow up doubting their abilities and constantly seeking external validation, as their accomplishments are often belittled or compared unfavorably to others. This relentless scrutiny can lead to a persistent inner critic, making it difficult to feel satisfied with one’s achievements.

Furthermore, the lack of emotional support and genuine appreciation can hinder the ability to form healthy relationships, as they might struggle with trust and self-worth issues. Over time, the emotional toll of such an upbringing can result in chronic stress, anxiety, and difficulties in personal and professional life.

5. You might have problematic relationships.

You might find that some of the relationships you have aren’t as fulfilling as you’d like and might even be unhealthy. For instance, narcissistic parents often control their children and don’t know their boundaries, so you might find yourself in a co-dependent relationship. You might even find that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, as it can be challenging to choose someone who is completely different from what you were familiar with as a child.

6. It might be tough for you to become independent.

Parents who are overly self-absorbed often try 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. When you become an adult, it can be tough to start thinking for yourself and doing things your way. And parents with a narcissistic personality don’t want to see their kids grow up. That’s because they need to be the one in control to keep getting love and approval.

7. You might feel uncertain about who you are.

It’s possible that you don’t 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 weren’t allowed to be yourself because your parents already decided what you needed to be.

8. You will continue to look to your parents for approval and validation in some ways.

Growing up with a narcissistic parent who exhibits a transactional kind of love can have significant and long-lasting effects on a child. These children often internalize the belief that love and affection are conditional, based on their ability to meet others’ needs and expectations. As adults, they may struggle with self-esteem and self-worth, constantly seeking external validation to feel valued and accepted.

Even as adults, they may continue to seek their parents’ approval and validation, hoping for the stable love and acceptance they never received. This often results in recurrent disappointment as the parent remains inconsistent and self-absorbed, perpetuating the cycle of emotional pain.

9. You might have anxiety.

As a kid, you probably felt a bit anxious around your parents. You always had to make sure you were doing everything the way they wanted, otherwise you could get yelled at or punished. This anxiety might stick with you later in life and affect other relationships.

10. You might have some unhealthy behaviors.

When you don’t get love from your parents, you look elsewhere for it. So you might find yourself struggling with compulsive behavior in your childhood and adulthood. It could be things like overeating or compulsive shopping. These things act as substitutes for love and make you feel better in the short term.

11. You will feel conflicted between your happiness and your obligation to your parents.

Being raised by a narcissistic parent can profoundly shape one’s approach to relationships and personal boundaries. Narcissistic parents often manipulate their children through guilt and control, fostering a sense of indebtedness and low self-worth. For example, when a child expresses a desire to marry, a narcissistic parent may react with extreme possessiveness and fear of abandonment, seeing the partner as a threat to their control.

This response can manifest as outright refusal, attempts to sabotage the relationship, or emotionally manipulative statements designed to maintain dominance. Such dynamics can lead the adult child to feel torn between their own happiness and their duty to their parent, complicating their ability to establish independent, healthy relationships.

Over time, these manipulative behaviors can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy, chronic anxiety, and difficulty in setting personal boundaries, making it challenging to break free from the cycle of control and seek fulfillment in their personal lives.

12. You’re a people-pleaser.

Because you 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 might even think that what you need isn’t as important as what others need. You might be afraid of upsetting others and try to accommodate them in every way.

13. You might constantly blame yourself.

It’s possible your parents might have used guilt to get you to do what they wanted, even if you knew it was wrong. Narcissistic parents will also never let you say that they did something wrong, which shows that they’re not perfect. So they might make you feel guilty for what they’ve done, or for not appreciating them enough as a parent.

As a kid, this probably made you feel like you were to blame for everything. It was important for you to keep a “good” relationship with your parents, so you didn’t want to upset them. This can also lead you to blame yourself in adulthood, even if you’re not at fault.

14. You might find it tough to set 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.

It’s likely that your privacy and independence were not respected in childhood. Your parents wanted to control every aspect of your life. And because it was something normal back then, you might find it difficult to set boundaries in other relationships.

Does your relationship with your mother leave you feeling confused or drained? Our next article offers help. Find out how to recognize covert narcissistic traits and restore your emotional well-being.


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