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  • Lynn Catalano

Lessons Children of Narcissists Learn

People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have terrible personal relationships. This of course includes the relationships they have with their children. Children of narcissistic parents learn fundamental benchmarks about their parents.

Children of Narcissists Learn:

  1. Narcissistic parents cannot ever be depended on, they will disappoint you every time. They use their children for their benefit.

  2. As long as you stay on the narcissist’s script and don’t get more attention than they do, they like you around. But my father could only be proud of me if he could take credit for my success.

  3. Walking on eggshells. You learn, at an early age to tread lightly around your narcissistic parent. This means you know what triggers them and you will do anything to avoid those triggers.

  4. While you (a child) continuously seek their approval, you will never get it.

  5. They will throw you under the bus, very easily. If things go well, it’s because of them. If things go wrong, it’s your fault.

  6. Everything has to be their way and they need to be the leader.

  7. Everything is a competition to a narcissist and your parent is competing with you.

  8. They put their image ahead of anything to do with you. They will miss important life events of yours or your children's choosing themselves.

  9. They make you feel bad for not doing what they want immediately and simultaneously make you feel guilty by boasting about how much they have done for you.

  10. They completely fail to provide any warmth and emotional support in the relationship as love is conditional and transactional to them.

I wrote about this in my book Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”

“This was the point in my journey when I began thinking my father’s behavior couldn’t just be caused by the grief of losing his wife. My mother was gone more than a year. The words, actions, and conduct of my father were abnormal. I started thinking something else was happening. I began researching mental illness and narcissism. The words in his emails and his actions were completely different.

During this period of time, my father seemed angry all the time. Inviting him over to dinner didn’t improve the situation. Asking him to attend my daughter’s dance performance didn’t change his attitude. Then, after I sent him a concerned email he responded with his own email. He said he didn’t feel part of dinner at my home as my in-laws were there too. I spoke with Phoebe about the narcissist in her life, her mother. Phoebe knew as long as you stay on the narcissist’s script, you will continue to get their approval. It’s when you divert from the script which causes the narcissist to go into a rage storm or withdraw. We definitely were not staying on my father’s script like my mother did, providing the necessary narcissistic supply. Every time we have a problem, he turns the tables to position himself as the victim. He immediately reacts saying, “If you don’t want me around, I understand.”

If I said his words or actions hurt, he responded with sweeping generalities as if everything he does is horrible. He was never willing to talk. He wanted things to return to “normal,” how they were when my mom was still alive. Nothing was ever resolved. I swallowed my discomfort and anger to keep the peace.”

Adult Children Repress Their Suffering

Children of narcissists learn to be people-pleasers but are plagued by tremendous self-doubt. They actually feel guilt when they receive praise or recognition.

Children of narcissists frequently swallow their anxiety, discomfort, and depression caused by their parent’s words and actions. There are long-term mental, emotional, and physical effects to your health from this prolonged form of emotional abuse.

This is why it’s critical to talk to someone about what you’ve experienced.

But not just anyone. You need to find someone who’s familiar with narcissistic personality disorder. You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I didn't set out to become a narcissistic abuse recovery coach. But after I’d suffered this kind of abuse, I realized that my story and my experience could help so many people who’ve suffered similarly. When someone tells me about their struggles and their story, I’m not just understanding. I really get it. I’ve been there. I’ve felt those same emotions, that same rage, and loss.

I can help you.

Don’t suffer in silence from narcissistic abuse, let’s talk.

Click here to book a free session with me. Don’t wait another day.

You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon and

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