Growing up with a narcissistic parent can be a complex and emotionally challenging experience. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, the need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. In this article, we will explore the profound and often long-lasting effects of having a narcissistic parent on a child’s emotional, psychological, and social development.

Low Self-Esteem

One of the most significant effects of having a narcissistic parent is the development of low self-esteem. Narcissistic parents often prioritize their own needs and desires over their children’s, which can lead to a lack of validation and support. Children of narcissistic parents may grow up feeling that their worth is contingent upon meeting their parent’s expectations, leading to fragile self-esteem.

Difficulty in Establishing Boundaries

Narcissistic parents tend to disregard their children’s boundaries and may even try to control or manipulate them. As a result, children raised by narcissistic parents may struggle to establish healthy personal boundaries in their relationships. They may either become excessively compliant or overly defensive, making it challenging to maintain balanced and respectful interactions with others.

Emotional Neglect

Children with narcissistic parents may experience emotional neglect. The parent’s preoccupation with their own needs and self-image often leaves little room for the child’s emotional well-being. As a result, children may feel emotionally deprived, leading to issues with self-expression and understanding their emotions.

Anxiety and Depression

The emotional turmoil created by a narcissistic parent can contribute to the development of anxiety and depression. The constant criticism, emotional manipulation, and instability in the parent-child relationship can leave children with lasting psychological scars. These conditions may persist into adulthood if not addressed.

Fear of Rejection and Abandonment

Children of narcissistic parents often grow up with a heightened fear of rejection and abandonment. They may become hypervigilant to signs of disapproval and may struggle with feelings of unworthiness. These fears can impact their adult relationships, making it challenging to trust and connect with others.

Difficulty in Self-Identity Development

A narcissistic parent may view their child as an extension of themselves and attempt to shape the child’s identity according to their own desires. Consequently, children of narcissistic parents may struggle to develop a strong sense of self and may find it challenging to identify their own needs, desires, and values.

People-Pleasing Behavior

In an effort to gain validation and avoid conflict with their narcissistic parent, children often develop people-pleasing behaviour. This tendency can persist into adulthood, making it difficult for them to assert their own needs and establish healthy relationships.

Repetition of Narcissistic Patterns

Shockingly, some individuals who grew up with a narcissistic parent may, later in life, unconsciously replicate the same patterns of behaviour they experienced in their own parenting. This cyclical effect perpetuates the cycle of narcissism, affecting future generations.


Growing up with a narcissistic parent can have profound and long-lasting effects on a child’s emotional, psychological, and social development. It is important to recognize these effects and seek support and therapy to heal from the trauma and establish healthier patterns of behaviour. Understanding that these effects are not the child’s fault is crucial in the journey to recovery and personal growth. Breaking free from the shadow of a narcissistic parent is possible and can lead to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

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