25 Signs of Narcissistic Parents

n the intricate tapestry of human relationships, the bond between a parent and child holds immeasurable significance. However, not all parental figures exhibit the nurturing and selfless love we envision. Enter the world of narcissistic parents, individuals whose self-centeredness and need for admiration overshadow their ability to provide genuine care. In this article, we embark on a brief exploration of the profound impact and subtle dynamics that shape the lives of those raised by narcissistic parents.

By We Level Up WA | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: May 22, 2023

What Is A Narcissistic Parent?

Narcissistic parents display a pervasive pattern of self-centeredness, grandiosity, and an insatiable need for attention and admiration. Their primary focus is on themselves, often at the expense of their children’s emotional and psychological well-being.

These parents view their children as extensions of themselves, seeking to fulfill their own desires and fantasies through their offspring. They often manipulate, exploit, and undermine their children’s sense of self, using them to boost their egos and maintain control.

The impact of growing up with a narcissistic parent can be profound, leaving lasting emotional scars and affecting various aspects of a child’s development and relationships.

Co Parenting With A Narcissist

Co-parenting with a narcissist can be an exceptionally challenging and emotionally draining experience. Narcissistic individuals prioritize their own needs and desires above the well-being of their children, making it difficult to establish a healthy and cooperative co-parenting dynamic.

Narcissistic Mother Traits

Narcissistic mothers exhibit traits such as excessive self-centeredness, lack of empathy, manipulative behavior, a need for constant admiration, boundary violations, emotional volatility, a competitive nature, and a lack of accountability. These characteristics can significantly impact their relationships with their children, creating an environment of emotional manipulation and instability.

Narcissistic Father Traits

Narcissistic fathers display traits such as self-centeredness, lack of empathy, manipulation, a need for admiration, boundary violations, emotional volatility, competitiveness, and a lack of accountability. These characteristics significantly impact their relationships with their children, creating an environment of emotional manipulation and instability.

Signs Of A Narcissistic Parent

Signs of a narcissistic parent include:

  1. Excessive self-centeredness: They prioritize their needs, desires, and achievements above their children’s.
  2. Lack of empathy: They struggle to understand or connect with their children’s emotions, disregarding their feelings and experiences.
  3. Manipulative behavior: They use emotional manipulation, guilt-tripping, and other tactics to control and influence their children.
  4. Need for constant admiration: They crave constant praise and attention from their children, seeking validation and boosting their own self-esteem.
  5. Boundary violations: They disregard their children’s boundaries and individuality, invading their privacy and dictating their choices.
  6. Emotional volatility: They display unpredictable and intense emotional reactions, often creating an unstable and anxiety-inducing environment.
  7. Competitive nature: They view their children as rivals and may undermine their achievements or engage in unhealthy competition.
  8. Lack of accountability: They deflect blame, refuse to take responsibility for their actions, and avoid acknowledging the negative impact on their children.

It’s important to remember that these signs may vary in intensity, and not all narcissistic parents exhibit all of them. Recognizing these signs can help individuals understand and navigate the complexities of having a narcissistic parent.

Narcissistic Parents Facts

Co-Parenting With A Narcissist

Co-parenting with a female narcissist or “parallel parenting with a narcissist” male can have lifetime effects on their child. It is uncommon that a narcissist doesn’t co-parent.

Narcissistic abuse parents will undoubtedly take a toll on your mental and emotional health, but you if to remember firmly that you’re stronger than you were back then. Do not fall victim to their narcissistic abuse ever again, even when they take advantage of the co-parenting situation.

Parenting is hard work. Co-parenting can be even more daunting. And if you’re co-parenting with a narcissist, it may sometimes feel near impossible.

If it’s getting too much to handle alone, reach out. A licensed therapist can help you work through issues and come to solutions for those incredibly impossible scenarios. Even talking through your feelings with a neutral person can help you take a step back and reassess your situation.

The signs you are co-parenting with a narcissist include:

  • They are often inflexible.
  • Defensive.
  • Manage the situation in unhealthy ways.

Toxic Narcissistic Mother Quotes

  • “If you grew up with emotionally immature parents, you may face your challenges with reciprocity, having learned to give either too much or not enough. Your parents’ self-preoccupied demands may have distorted your instincts about fairness.
    If you were an internalizer, you learned that to be loved or desirable. You need to give more than you get; otherwise, you’ll be useless to others. If you were an externalizer, you might have the false belief that others don’t love you unless they prove it by always putting you first and repeatedly overextending themselves for you.” 
    – Lindsay C. Gibson‘s Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, Narcissistic Parents Quotes.
  • “Remember, your goodness as a person isn’t based on how much you give in relationships, and it isn’t selfish to set limits on people who keep taking.” 
    ― Lindsay C. Gibson, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, Narcissistic Parent Quotes, Narcissist Parent Quotes.

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Narcissist Parenting Statistics

Delving into the realm of narcissistic parenting, it is essential to explore the statistical landscape that sheds light on the prevalence and impact of this phenomenon. By examining the data and numbers associated with narcissistic parenting, we gain valuable insights into the scope of this issue and its implications for individuals and families. In this section, we delve into compelling statistics that uncover the prevalence, consequences, and long-term effects of narcissistic parenting, providing a deeper understanding of its significance in today’s society.

1 in 200

Approximately 0.5% of the United States population has a narcissistic personality disorder. It is equivalent to 1 in 200 people.

Source: NCBI


 Narcissistic personality disorder characteristics are 7.7% more prevalent in men.

Source: NCBI


Narcissism is a prevalent personality disorder in the general U.S. population and is associated with considerable disability among men, whose rates exceed those of women. For women, it is 4.8%.

Source: NCBI

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25 Characteristics Of A Narcissistic Mother or Father

In exploring the complex dynamics of narcissistic parenting, it is crucial to identify the key traits that define such individuals. These 25 characteristics provide valuable insights into narcissistic mothers’ or fathers’ behavioral patterns and tendencies. From excessive self-centeredness and lack of empathy to manipulative behavior and boundary violations, these traits paint a vivid picture of the challenges children raised by narcissistic parents face. By understanding and recognizing these characteristics, we gain a deeper understanding of the impact and complexities that arise in relationships with narcissistic parents, paving the way for healing, growth, and resilience.

  1. Excessive self-centeredness.
  2. Lack of empathy.
  3. Manipulative behavior.
  4. Need for constant admiration.
  5. Boundary violations.
  6. Emotional volatility.
  7. Competitive nature.
  8. Lack of accountability
  9. Exploitative tendencies.
  10. Grandiose sense of self-importance.
  11. Controlling and domineering.
  12. Difficulty recognizing and respecting boundaries.
  13. Jealousy and resentment towards children’s achievements.
  1. Inability to apologize or admit wrongdoing.
  2. Gaslighting and distorting reality.
  3. Projecting their own insecurities onto children.
  4. Lack of genuine interest in children’s lives.
  5. Using children as extensions of themselves.
  6. Neglecting children’s emotional needs.
  7. Engaging in power struggles with children.
  8. Difficulty accepting criticism or feedback.
  9. Demonstrating conditional love and affection.
  10. Undermining children’s self-esteem.
  11. Exploiting children for personal gain or image.
  12. Difficulty establishing healthy parent-child boundaries.
In exploring the complex dynamics of narcissistic parenting, it is crucial to identify the key traits that define such individuals.
In exploring the complex dynamics of narcissistic parenting, it is crucial to identify the key traits that define such individuals.

Signs You Are Co Parenting With A Narcissist

  • Lack of empathy: The co-parent consistently fails to understand or acknowledge your perspective or your child’s emotions and needs.
  • Manipulative behavior: They engage in tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or using the children as pawns to control or gain an advantage over you.
  • Difficulty in co-parenting communication: The co-parent consistently creates conflict, refuses to cooperate, or engages in hostile and unproductive communication.
  • Self-centeredness: They prioritize their own needs, desires, and agenda over the well-being of the children or the effectiveness of co-parenting.
  • Inconsistent parenting: The co-parent’s parenting style may fluctuate, depending on their mood or personal agenda, leading to confusion and instability for the children.
  • Disregard for boundaries: They consistently cross boundaries and fail to respect your parenting decisions or agreements, undermining your authority as a co-parent.
  • Parental alienation: They use tactics to turn the children against you or manipulate their perceptions and feelings toward you, damaging the parent-child relationship.
  • Lack of accountability: The co-parent consistently avoids taking responsibility for their actions, deflects blame onto others, or refuses to acknowledge the negative impact of their behavior on the children or the co-parenting relationship.
  • Focus on appearances: They prioritize their public image or how others perceive them, often at the expense of the children’s well-being or the co-parenting relationship.
  • Control and power struggles: The co-parent constantly seeks to maintain control, undermine authority, or manipulate situations to assert dominance.
  • Minimizing your role: They belittle your contributions as a co-parent or dismiss your opinions and decisions, devaluing your importance in co-parenting.
  • Involvement of third parties: The co-parent may involve others, such as extended family members or professionals, to exert control, manipulate narratives, or gain an advantage in the co-parenting relationship.
  • Emotional volatility: They display unpredictable and intense emotional reactions, creating an unstable and stressful environment for you and the children.
  • High conflict custody battles: The co-parent tends to escalate conflicts, engage in prolonged and contentious legal battles, or use the court system as control or revenge.
  • Undermining your relationship with the children: They may make derogatory remarks about you in front of the children or attempt to erode their trust and respect for you as a co-parent.
  • Selfish decision-making: The co-parent consistently makes decisions that primarily benefit themselves, disregarding the children’s best interests or the co-parenting relationship.
  • Difficulty co-parenting with others: They may also struggle with co-parenting relationships with other individuals, such as previous partners or family members, further highlighting their pattern of behavior.

It’s important to note that experiencing a few signs does not necessarily mean your co-parent is narcissistic. Still, if you consistently encounter many of these behaviors, it may indicate narcissistic traits that require careful navigation and support.

How To Protect Child From Narcissistic Father?

To protect a child from a narcissistic father:

  1. Educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder and its impact on parenting.
  2. Set clear boundaries and communicate expectations.
  3. Focus on the child’s needs and create a nurturing environment.
  4. Seek support from trusted individuals or professionals.
  5. Document incidents for future reference.
  6. Encourage healthy relationships with positive role models.
  7. Minimize exposure to conflict.
  8. Consult with a family law attorney for legal guidance.

Adult Children Of Narcissistic Parents

Adult children of narcissistic parents have experienced unique challenges growing up in an environment characterized by a self-centered and emotionally manipulative parent. These individuals often carry emotional scars and negative effects into adulthood. Some common characteristics and experiences include:

  • Low self-esteem: Having been constantly criticized, invalidated, or compared unfavorably, adult children may struggle with self-worth and self-confidence.
  • People-pleasing tendencies: To seek approval and avoid conflict, they may develop a strong inclination to please others at the expense of their own needs and desires.
  • Difficulty setting boundaries: Adult children may have challenges asserting their own boundaries and struggle with a fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • Approval-seeking behavior: They may continue seeking validation from others, hoping to fill the void left by their narcissistic parent’s lack of genuine emotional support.
  • Trust issues: Having grown up with inconsistent or unreliable parenting, adult children of narcissistic parents may find it difficult to trust others and form healthy relationships.
  • Emotional instability: The emotional volatility and unpredictable nature of their parent’s behavior can contribute to anxiety, depression, or difficulty regulating emotions.
  • Fear of confrontation: Adult children may have an aversion to confrontation or conflict due to past experiences with their narcissistic parent’s explosive reactions or manipulation tactics.
  • Perfectionism: Striving for perfection may stem from a desire to meet unrealistic standards imposed by their narcissistic parent or to gain approval.
  • Guilt and self-blame: They may internalize the blame for their parent’s behavior and feel guilty for asserting their needs or boundaries.
  • Difficulty with self-identity: Adult children of narcissistic parents may struggle to develop a strong sense of self and personal identity due to being overshadowed or controlled by their parents.

Adult children of narcissistic parents need to seek support, such as therapy or support groups, to heal from past wounds, gain self-awareness, and develop healthier coping mechanisms. With support and self-reflection, it is possible to break free from the negative impacts of narcissistic parenting and cultivate a fulfilling and authentic life.

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How To Deal With A Narcissistic Parent?

Dealing with a narcissistic parent can be challenging, but here are some strategies to help navigate the situation:

  • Establish boundaries: Clearly define and communicate your emotional and physical boundaries, and stick to them. Limit the information you share and protect your personal space.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize your well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy and reduce stress. Focus on your physical and emotional health to build resilience.
  • Seek support: Contact trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide understanding and guidance. Sharing your experiences with others can help validate your feelings and provide valuable perspectives.
Dealing with a narcissistic parent can be challenging, but here are some strategies to help navigate the situation
Dealing with a narcissistic parent can be challenging, but here are some strategies to help navigate the situation.
  • Manage expectations: Accept that you cannot change the narcissistic parent’s behavior. Adjust your expectations and understand that their actions are a reflection of their own issues, not a reflection of your worth.
  • Develop coping strategies: Learn and practice healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the narcissistic parent’s manipulation or criticism. This may involve setting boundaries, detaching emotionally, or practicing mindfulness.
  • Stay grounded in reality: Narcissistic parents often distort reality or engage in gaslighting. Trust your experiences and perceptions, and seek validation from trusted sources to maintain a sense of reality.
  • Focus on your growth: Invest time and energy in personal development and building a fulfilling life. Set goals, pursue interests, and cultivate relationships outside the toxic parent-child dynamic.
  • Practice assertiveness: Learn assertiveness skills to advocate for yourself and assert your needs and boundaries in a calm and confident manner. This can help you maintain your own identity and protect your well-being.
  • Limit contact if necessary: If the relationship with the narcissistic parent becomes too toxic or harmful, consider establishing boundaries that may involve limiting or cutting off contact. Prioritize your own mental and emotional health.

Remember, dealing with a narcissistic parent is a deeply personal journey, and finding what works best for you may take time. Be patient with yourself and seek professional help if needed to navigate the relationship’s complexities and heal from any emotional wounds.

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  1. What is a Narcissist Mother?

    A narcissistic mother is an individual who displays self-centered and manipulative behaviors, often prioritizing her own needs, desires, and achievements over the well-being of her children. She may lack empathy, manipulate her children, seek constant admiration, and violate boundaries, creating a challenging and potentially damaging environment for her children.

  2. Why Do The Children Of Narcissistic Parents Suffer So Much?

    The children of narcissistic parents often suffer due to the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted upon them. Narcissistic parents typically prioritize their own needs, neglecting their children’s emotional well-being. Children may experience invalidation, manipulation, and a lack of empathy, leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and difficulty forming healthy relationships.

  3. Are Narcissist Parents Bad People?

    While narcissistic parents may exhibit harmful behaviors, it is important to distinguish between their actions and their inherent worth as individuals. Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by maladaptive coping mechanisms and distorted self-perception. While their behavior can harm their children’s well-being, understanding that their actions stem from psychological issues can help separate the person from their behavior.

  4. Can a Narcissist Father be Violent?

    While not all narcissistic fathers are violent, the combination of narcissistic traits and other factors such as anger, control issues, and a lack of empathy can increase the risk of violent behavior. It is essential to prioritize personal safety and seek support if there are physical or emotional abuse concerns.

  5. How To Deal With A Narcissistic Mother?

    Dealing with a narcissistic mother can be challenging, but setting boundaries, seeking support from trusted individuals or professionals, and prioritizing self-care are crucial steps. Developing strategies to cope with manipulation, engaging in open communication, and seeking therapy can help navigate the complexities of the relationship and promote personal well-being.

  6. What is Narcissistic Parental Alienation?

    Narcissistic parental alienation refers to a manipulative tactic used by a narcissistic parent to turn their child against the other parent. This behavior aims to undermine the child’s relationship with the targeted parent, often through tactics such as spreading false information, belittling, or emotionally manipulating the child to align with the narcissistic parent’s perspective.

  7. Is My Mother A Narcissist?

    Determining if someone is a narcissist requires a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. However, if your mother consistently exhibits many of the narcissistic traits described earlier and their behavior significantly impacts your well-being and relationships, it may be worth seeking professional guidance for a proper assessment.

  8. What are Narcissistic Abuse Parents?

    Narcissistic abuse parents are individuals who use manipulative tactics and emotional abuse to control and dominate their children. They exploit their children’s vulnerabilities, undermine their self-esteem, and engage in gaslighting, leading to long-lasting emotional scars and negative impacts on their children’s well-being.

  9. What is Narcissistic Parenting?

    Narcissistic parenting is characterized by excessive self-centeredness, lack of empathy, manipulation, and the prioritization of personal needs and desires over the well-being of the children. Narcissistic parents often seek admiration and control. They use their children as tools to boost their self-esteem and fulfill their needs.

  10. Dealing With Narcissistic Parents Can Be Dangerous?

    Dealing with narcissistic parents can pose risks, particularly if there is a history of emotional, psychological, or physical abuse. It is important to prioritize personal safety and seek professional help, legal advice, or support from organizations that specialize in assisting individuals in abusive or dangerous situations.

Learn About The Risks & Effects of Parental Alcoholism on Children

Video Script

Children who grow up with a parent or caregiver struggling with alcoholism may experience complex emotions that require attention to prevent potential long-term issues. These emotions can manifest in various ways, including:

  1. Feelings of anxiety
  2. Embarrassment about the parent’s behavior
  3. Anger towards the parent or the situation
  4. Difficulties in forming close relationships with others
  5. Confusion about the parent’s actions or inconsistent behavior
  6. Feelings of guilt, often stemming from a sense of responsibility for the parent’s alcoholism
  7. Episodes of depression or sadness.

It is important to address these emotional effects to provide support and minimize the impact of parental alcoholism on the child’s overall well-being.

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Search We Level Up WA / Narcissistic Parents & Resources
  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Narcissistic Personality Disorder: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/narcissistic-personality-disorder/index.shtml
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Understanding Mental Health Disorders: Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  3. Office on Women’s Health (OWH)
  4. National Institute on Aging (NIA) – Tips for Caregivers: Dealing with Narcissistic Parents: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/tips-caregivers-dealing-narcissistic-parents
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): https://www.cdc.gov/policy/polaris/healthtopics/ace/index.html#:~:text=ACEs%20have%20a%20tremendous%20impact,attempt%20or%20die%20by%20suicide.
  6. Child Welfare Information Gateway – Parental Substance Use and the Child Welfare System: https://www.childwelfare.gov/resources/parental-substance-use-primer-child-welfare-professionals/
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – MentalHealth.gov: Narcissistic Personality Disorder: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/personality-disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder
  8. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Narcissistic Personality Disorder: https://www.nami.org/about-mental-illness/mental-health-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/
  9. Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) – https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css
  10. National Domestic Violence Hotline – Recognizing the Signs of Abuse: https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/

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