Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

10 Damaging Ways Narcissistic Parents Emotionally Harm Their Children ~ Lilly Hope Lucario


Surviving narcissistic parents, is literally all about survival. Narcissistic parents treat their children like extensions of themselves. The child is there entirely for the needs of the parent(s). The child learns to navigate issues, they are never meant to endure.

A childhood being raised by narcissistic parents, is far from normal. Narcissistic parents are toxic and selfish to the core. They have no regard for the needs of their children. They have no consideration for the harm they cause.

Everything, is ‘all about the narcissistic parent’.

narcissistic parent

This article highlights 10 ways narcissistic parents can harm their children.

1. The child is never ‘good enough’.

No matter how hard a child tries, they will never be ‘good enough’. This is shown in words and actions modelled. This often leads to a child having poor self esteem and self loathing, which continue on into adulthood.  The child learns they are only valued for what they do, and not who they are.

2. The child’s needs are never a priority.

Only the narcissistic parent’s needs matter. There is always emotional neglect and the child learns their own needs, feeling and emotions, are not a consideration and are not valued. The child is not cherished, encouraged or validated, in any way outside of the parents needs being met. The child is not nurtured, or cherished. The child is often judged, criticised and shown contempt. This can lead to the child having a huge deficit of healthy self esteem, or self worth.

3. The child is expected to take care of the narcissistic parent’s emotional needs.

Narcissistic parents see their children as extensions of themselves. The child is manipulated into continually taking care of the parents needs, whilst no regard or consideration is shown for the child’s needs. The child is often expected to perform duties outside of what is healthy behaviour.

Parentification abuse – often occurs within a relationship between a narcissistic parent and their child. The child is inappropriately made to meet the emotional and/or physical needs of the parent. Often a child will be made to responsible for caring for siblings, in ways the parent is failing to. Often the child has to listen to adult issues such as financial issues, sexual relationship issues.

The child is forced to be an adult and often not treated as the child they actually are.

4. The child’s emotions will be denied, mocked and never validated.

Narcissistic parents bully their children. Sometimes the child of a narcissist will (understandably) feel upset, angry, hurt at times. These emotions, may be mocked and even taunting the child can occur. Examples, if the child is sad, the narcissistic parent will mock and state “you are a such a misery to be around”. If the child shows anger or gets upset, the narcissistic parent will e.g. then use cruel labels such as “you are such a drama queen”. The child’s emotions are never valued.

If the child expresses feeling (appropriately) annoyed at the narcissistic parents demands, the parent will immediately employ further abuse and manipulation, to gain back control. Such as guilt tripping, shaming, silent treatment. The child’s appropriate feelings, again denied and invalidated.

5. Love or affection is always conditional.

The narcissistic parent is unwilling to show genuine love, empathy. There are always conditions the child has to meet, which are always for the benefit of the parent. If the child fails to meet the ‘conditions’ -they will be punished in emotionally abusive ways the narcissistic parent knows will hurt their children. Such as the silent treatment, or cruel words and labels. The child fails to learn any sense of self worth, outside of meeting other people’s needs and demands.

6. There is often a ‘golden child’ role & often a ‘scapegoat’ role.

Narcissistic parents often have (unspoken) ‘roles’ their children are given, that are entirely for the unhealthy needs of the parent. These assigned roles, are not ever for the benefit of the children. These roles are emotionally abuse.

The ‘golden child’ is one role, and this child can do no wrong and is there to boost the unhealthy ego of the parent. The golden child is there is flatter the parent, and to feed the shallow image needs of the parents.

The ‘scapegoat’ is the child who is given the role of taking all the blame and shame for the dysfunction within the family. The narcissistic parent needs someone to blame, as this means the parent never has to be accountable for their abusive actions. They willingly project blame and shame onto the scapegoat and the child often develops toxic shame as a result.

7. Healthy emotional and physical boundaries, do not exist with narcissists.

A narcissistic parent does not comply with normal healthy emotional boundaries required for a child to feel safe. Inappropriate comments about appearance, inappropriate body contact, completely denying the child their needed emotions and feelings. Any beliefs the child expresses that are not compliant with the parents beliefs and needs, are denied and invalidated. The narcissistic parent may also make inappropriate comments to the child’s friends. They may snoop in their child’s diaries. Or make inappropriate and demeaning comments about their child, to other people.

This failure to teach and model healthy boundaries, means the child fails to learn them, and this can often lead to further issues well into adulthood, as the adult survivor then tries to navigate adult life, without many skills required for a healthy life.

8. Various methods of emotional abuse are used to maintain control and protect image.

Such as manipulation, gas-lighting, projecting, lying, the silent treatment, comparing to other siblings, mocking, blaming, shaming, coercion and guilt trips etc.

The image of the family is paramount. Nothing negative about the parents, is allowed to be spoken outside of the family. The phrase ‘don’t air your dirty linen in public’ is one the narcissistic parents and dysfunctional family hold very strongly.

9. The child grows within a dysfunctional environment of fear and anxiety.

The child is constantly aware their parent is requiring something from them. Hyper-vigilance is developed young, as the child learns to monitor and discern the narcissistic parents moods, actions and body language.  The child knows at any point the parent could be annoyed, angry, or emotionally withdraw – when the child does something deemed to be wrong. Or even just because the narcissistic parent is in a bad mood, which is projected onto the child.

The phrase ‘walking on eggshells’, or suffer the wrath of the narcissistic parents abusive reaction, becomes something the child learns to keep themselves as safe as is possible.

10. Affection is never appropriate or consistent, so the child never feels consistently loved, or cared for.

Not being shown genuine love, is emotional neglect and is emotionally abusive. One of the main needs of any child – is love, safety and protection. These are not provided by the narcissistic parent.

For the ‘golden child’, they learn affection is based upon how much they feed the parents ego and image. The golden child is often encouraged to mock and bully their siblings. They are encouraged to feel superior to their siblings.

For the scapegoat, they learn their only role is to willingly take the blame and shame for anything, and that resistance to this, results in the adult abusing the child further. To placate the parent any way possible, becomes the way the scapegoat child exists within the dysfunction.


Life within a dysfunctional family, is an awful neglectful childhood. It can cause considerable emotional and social issues well into adulthood. When the adult survivor embarks on adult relationships, they often do not have the skills required for to develop and maintain a healthy relationship, with partners, friends, and sometimes with their own children.

Often adult survivors of narcissistic parents have poor, unhealthy boundaries, that cause more issues – such as becoming an easy target for further abuse in adulthood.

Sometimes, the adult survivor has no awareness their childhood was dysfunctional. Sadly, this will mean the adult survivor is unaware of how their lives continue to be affected by their childhood.

Sometimes, the adult survivor is aware, or does become aware of the dysfunction, and they will choose to learn about healthy relationships, maybe seek counselling and will begin to heal the deep wounds and complex issues caused by their narcissistic parent(s).

Narcissistic abuse from parents, can also cause mental and physical health issues in adulthood. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorders, OCD and many more mental health issues, can result. Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and other physical health issues can result.

For anyone looking to heal their own wounds from a dysfunctional and toxic childhood, I do recommend therapy, with someone trained and experienced in toxic abuse.

I have written about 12 ways adult survivors can begin to heal these deep wounds caused by narcissistic, toxic parents.

See @ https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/how-to-begin-to-heal-the-wounds-caused-by-narcissistic-parents-lilly-hope-lucario/

I have a host of information which may help survivors, and those interested on my Website which is recommended by mental health professionals with the trauma and abuse field. My Website includes a whole range of books and resources, which further explore the damaging ways of toxic, narcissistic parents, and the harm they cause. Plus, there are resources on healing, including books from therapists and mental health professionals.

Website @ @ https://www.healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.com/

~ Lilly Hope Lucario

All blogs written by Lilly Hope Lucario and subject to © Copyright Protected.

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Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

14 thoughts on “10 Damaging Ways Narcissistic Parents Emotionally Harm Their Children ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

  1. I suffered from part of what you have described. My mother didn’t want children but was convinced to have me by a psychoanalyst. I always felt that somewhere she did not want me. She always called me a “prince” (i.e. spoiled), “spoiled”, or “over-dramatic” when I showed strong emotions. Both my parents did not lift a finger when I was abused, emotionally and sexually, at school.

    My father still maintains that he did everything right. To my mother’s credit I must say that eventually she came to feel immense regret for what she did to me in my childhood, and in the recent years she makes an effort to improve her attitude towards me.

    The result is that I can never fully trust a person to fully love me, or trust any person in position of authority to protect me. I live in constant fear after being abused for years at school without anyone protecting me. I am now diagnosed with C-PTSD and bi-polar disorder and am taking a cocktail of medications to be able to somehow function and be in a relationship. I have been in therapy for years, with partial success; many wounds I cannot heal.

  2. Great post as always Lilly! Sending you hugs and love ❤

  3. Reblogged this on my child within and commented:
    Another great post by Lilly! ❤

  4. Pingback: How To Begin To Heal The Wounds Caused By Narcissistic Parents ~ Lilly Hope Lucario | Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

  5. This is so accurate yet painful to read. Thanks!

  6. I found this very helpful–Thank you!

  7. Pingback: Resources part 6 – rebuildingmylife2016

  8. This was my late narc mother, all over. 😦

  9. Pingback: Narcissistic Parents | Grace seeks sanctuary

  10. This article really hit home for me. I share a child with a narcissist, possibly a sociopath. This is exactly what it was like living with him, our children one each from prior relationship n one hold together. My child was the “scapegoat” his son was ” golden” child. While our child together was kinda forgotten about n always left behind with me. So when his son wanted his way cuz daddy always gave him what he wanted. The three of us my two sons n myself. My ex would take things from us to keep his “golden” child happy. Now since ive left, ive been really struggling to keep our shared son on a somewhat normal or safer pattern. But I have a lot of issues since ive left. I am a drug addict n we did use together I was in recovery when we met. He knew I was I didn’t hide it then one day he brought home some drugs n I went back into active addiction. When we broke up I was struggling to recover again. Not successful but was slowly getting back into recovery. He knew exactly what to tell people to get me to look like I chose choose to leave because of drugs. Not the fact he was beating the snot outta me strangling me. N eventually he called social services on me. Even though I needed the help, the call wasn’t made for the sake of the kids it was to gain control of me by getting the kids. So here I am two years later he still begs me to come back n I refuse so he power plays me n uses my sweet lol guy against me. When I do get to see my son he is sometimes very shy n even though I’ve never been bad or mean to my child. He shys away from me til his dad is gone. That tells me that he says really bad things to me n I think my son shys from me when dad is around because his dad makes him feel like I’m bad person n he shouldn’t love me. I dnt talk about his dad, as soon as dad’s gone I try to just let the negative go with the ex out the door soon as dad’s gone it’s happy. I dnt want to waste the little time I do have with him on telling him dad’s wrong or mean to me. My son knows I love him n he asks to stay more with me, I want my son to see for himself the difference between homes n the way we live. I dont want my son to be like his dad in negitive ways his brother n my exs first son is just like the ex. N it’s sad cuz he is such a sweetheart when his dad aint around but that’s not my child n I cant do anything about it. I need to work on my recovery first n my own sons second. I really am so relieved to have found your page cuz ive been really struggling to keep my sanity cuz people from where I’m from dont know bout people like him. And cuz of my past with drugs they think it’s a bullet I use to make him look bad. I myself can’t believe half the stuff I’ve gone thru n my boys. N to say it out loud to someone else it just seems like I’m reading a lifetime movie novel. I’m stuck in the post break up still my mind has been seriously compromised since I left n he got my kids taken away. So to see things on your page that explain things I’ve been saying all along is like having a fresh breath of air after suffocating for so long.

  11. As I was reading this, I kept thinking, “wait – you mean that’s not how everyone else’s family worked? ” you have described my childhood to a “t”.

  12. hello Lilly, every point you made here has a light bulb going on inside my head. I have never been able to articulate just *what* or *why* my now estranged parents acted how they did (I cut ties in ’99), but that is spot on. Thank you for the enlightenment <3, In fact, I find this so useful, I would like to print it for a mental health assessment I am due to have on Monday 9 April, with your permission, please? Not for publishing, but for the assessors from a Mental Health Service to understand without me being further exhausted and traumatised in my sleep-restricted state (deliberately now by two neighbours). I suffer from sleep deprivation – caused by a neighbour all night each night since Nov 2016 so this would alleviate some stress. Many thanks. PS I am so sorry that you went through such devastating experiences, and for the people who posted their stories ❤