Articles, Narcissism, Relationships

20 hidden traits of a narcissistic parent

A narcissistic parent is hard to spot due to the mask he puts out in public. Sam Vaknin, self-proclaimed narcissist and author of the book, ‘Malignant self-love‘, describes the narcissist as a traumatized person who suffers from abandonment issues, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He even goes as far as to suggest that the narcissism is a severe reaction to trauma, a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that mutated into a personality disorder.

The narcissistic parent has a mask, a facade that is not possible to penetrate by others. This appearance is often called the false self, a form of self that is fabricated by the narcissist in order to cover the real trauma that the narcissist hasn’t dealt with.

This mask makes the narcissistic parent something that he’s not: invincible, strong, superior to others, skillful and, in general, a great human being.

Others think that narcissistic parents are those who use their children to get something from life.

‘Even though narcissistic parents (or toxic parents as they are also called) often love their children and perhaps think that by pacing their children, they are paving the way for the children’s future success, their primary motive is the satisfaction of their own needs of external recognition. Not the needs of their children!’ says Birgitte Coste at

The true face of a narcissistic parent is only revealed in front of his children or spouse. Children of these parents will often feel like mere extensions, which will make them distance themselves from the family that stiffens their development. Following are 20 traits of a narcissistic parent learned from my relationship with my mom, my therapy hours and the reading I’ve done on the subject.

1. Emotional manipulation

This is one of the most obvious traits of a narcissistic parent. If you feel used, ignored, shamed or blamed for things you didn’t do as a child, you probably had a toxic or parent around.

Guilt-is used to keep you in the dysfunctional relationship. If you feel guilty for not helping your mother to decorate her new home after she says ‘After all I’ve done for you, feeding you, making sure you have everything as a child, you can’t even do this little thing for me?’ realize that it’s not your fault. You’re emotionally abused and getting out of this dynamic would do you good.

Blame-a narcissistic parent can dump their shame and negative feelings onto others using blame.

This can cause the child to doubt himself and weaken his self-esteem.

Gaslighting-‘gaslight’ is a term inspired by the movie ‘Gaslight’ (1944). In the movie, the main character, Paula Alquist is brainwashed by her husband Gregory into thinking she did things she didn’t do. He would misplace her personal items or change the place of the objects in her house. In other terms, he would rearrange the environment and change her reality so that she would lose the ability to trust herself.

A narcissistic parent will convince a child that he is not abused by the parent. The narcissist will often say that she wants the best for the child and sacrificed her life so that the child has what he needs. By saying these positive things over and over, the child will start thinking that he is exaggerating and, that his mom is a good parent. Even though the child experiences verbal, emotional, physical or even sexual abuse.

2. She’s always in control

According to, a narcissistic parent dictates what the child should think, feel and how he should act. She seems to have the child’s life planned out even before the child gets to know about his likes and dislikes.

3. She is not able to be ‘introspective’

A narcissistic parent lacks the ability to be introspective and analyze her own thoughts and actions. Due to the false self, the parent is not able to reach himself and her true feelings.

4. She puts people down

The need to appear perfect, flawless and invincible makes the narcissistic parent think is superior to others. She will then put down others who are less fortunate than her, who have a lot of challenges in their life or are considered ‘weak’.

5. The parent is inconsistent with her behavior

One article from talks about the narcissistic parent’s behavior and how inconsistent it is. These parents throw compliments and criticisms in inappropriate situations. For example, when the child is having a small victory at school or reaches a personal goal, the parent will either ignore or give a criticism instead of a praise. Also, compliments may be hand out without any reason.

6. The narcissist’s projections

According to, a parent with a personality disorder will project their negative emotions onto others. For example, if the parent is angry, she can say ‘Go to your room and we can talk after you’ve done being hysterical’. The child will be confused especially if he didn’t react in any way.

7. She is the martyr who sacrificed her life for her children

It is common to hear from a narcissistic parent that he or she sacrificed their youth or their life to give the child whatever he needed. My mom would say that she took (food) from her mouth to give to us, thus, when she would think I treated her badly, she’d slip me the ‘guilt’ pill. Feeling guilty for making mom upset was a powerful state, one I didn’t wanna be in. Therefore, I would do whatever she wanted, pleasing her, saying ‘yes’ to her requests and comforting her each time she needed support.

It took me years of therapy to understand that my mom’s happiness is not my responsibility. Her failure to take care of herself emotionally came from the way she was raised, and how her own parents treated her.

8. She knows what’s best for her children

Because there is no separation between the parent and the child, the narcissistic parent thinks that what she wants and needs, the child will want and need, too.

She would say that she knows what’s best for her own children because she raised them, she is the one who has been there for them when they were small and helpless.

The irony here is that a narcissistic parent is not able to give attention and emotional support to her children. She is not capable to really know her children due to her narcissistic views, so, how can she have the knowledge of what’s best for them? No one knows what’s best for another person except that person.

9. She owns the success of her children

One article at talks about how the parent feels that his child’s success belongs to him. The narcissistic parent feels that she sacrificed many things for the child and the child needs to behave according to her expectations. Therefore, when the child receives praises or awards, she’ll take credit for them. This reminds me of the movie ‘The joy luck club‘ where a narcissistic mother would flash her child’s magazine cover to strangers on the street, expecting praises for her, personally. It’s like she was saying ‘Look at how great I am! I raised a child who became a famous chess player.’

10. She’s defensive and rejects criticism

When you criticize a narcissistic parent, she’ll flip out because she will experience what psychologists call a ‘narcissistic injury‘. This means that, if you say something critical about her, you can shatter the perfect, false self she built from an early age. It is advised that you don’t challenge the narcissistic parent by making her see where she is doing wrong. Agreeing with her will work on both parts.

Knowing that you can’t communicate in a decent way with your narcissistic parent will help you realize that there is no point in expressing yourself to her. You don’t have to make yourself heard by your dysfunctional family.

11. She likes drama

A narcissist’s emotional state is always fearful. Her mindset is fear-based and, unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition.

Because of this fear-based thinking that can’t be changed, a narcissist wallows in negativity and will often seek negative emotions in other people.

The writers at state that, the parents who love to feed on others’ pain are often called ’emotional vampires’. I always thought my mom loves to be around negative people and would do anything to provoke negative reactions in others. I wouldn’t understand why while living at home.

12. She never takes responsibility for her own actions

At the core, a narcissistic parent has a deep sense of shame that makes her put on the mask of perfection. Thus, she can’t be blamed for things that she actually did: even if she hits the child, she will rephrase this act as good discipline.  A narcissistic parent is never wrong, thus, trying to make her feel responsible for what she did is a chore. You can have better chances getting in touch with president Obama on the phone than making your narcissistic parent feel responsible for something she did.

13. She lives through her children

My mother was often focused on my romantic relationships and would always push me to have that great ‘soul mate’ bonding that she never had. You might say that she was maybe concerned that I will choose the wrong kind of men and I’ll suffer and she doesn’t want me to suffer.

Hmm, no. When someone is indeed concerned about you, your feelings and your choices they ask how you feel and would even give a crying shoulder in those tough moments of heartbreak. Mom would usually criticize me and my choices when I was at my worst. If I failed to have the relationship she would be proud of me to have, she’ll have something negative to say about.

You don’t really have to be a trained psychotherapist to realize your parent is trying to live your life, too because her life was miserable. Watch out if your mom or dad is neglecting you, ignoring your feelings, or treating you like you are forced to serve them or give them something.

14. She has a favorite child

According to, a narcissistic parent chooses a favorite child to focus on. This child is called the ‘golden child’ who can do no wrong. The other child of the family will take the blame for everything that happens, also called the ‘scapegoat’.

15. She invalidates the child’s feelings

A huge red flag of narcissism is emotional invalidation. For example, a child falls from his bike and injures his knees. He will come home desperate for mom’s support and attention but, instead of compassion, mom yells at the child asking why he was so irresponsible to fall off the bike.

She will demand an explanation and won’t attempt to calm the child down. My mom would do this very often. I would feel double bad-one for being in pain from the injury and second-because I’d feel hurt by my mom’s cold behavior.

16. She violates emotional boundaries

If you ask your parent to not call you during the evening when you’re busy working or resting after the work day, she will pretend to not hear you. Why? You asking her something undermines her power and sense of control she has over you. You cannot ask her to treat you like a human being with feelings, thoughts and a life independent of her.

She lives life through you, through your thoughts and your emotions. She is enmeshed with you, thus, boundaries for her don’t have any meaning. However, if you want to work at setting strong boundaries, check out my post ‘How to set boundaries and protect your beautiful self’. You can also continue with part two of the post entitled, ‘What to do when someone doesn’t respect your boundaries’.

I would also advise you to ask the help of a therapist so you can work on your boundaries. Having narcissistic parents can make one confused whether boundaries are important. The truth is, they are! They are actually the milestone of a healthy relationship. Without boundaries, you can’t have a meaningful relationship with a friend, partner or with that old the lady neighbor who loves to look at you through the peep-hole.

17. She has children to gain attention, praise, recognition or to have someone who’ll take care of her when she’s old

This is a tough one! One of my friends told me once that all she heard from her mother was that she had children so she won’t have to grow old alone and will be taken care of if she will get sick. Imagine this: a person who is making babies for the sole purpose of using them as nurses when they’re too old to fend for themselves. It can’t get more narcissistic than this!

All I heard from my mom was how I had to study to make something out of my life, so I don’t end up like her. She pushed me into getting far into my studies and then, she pushed me into having a job with a title. Then, I’d hear her bragging about my studies abroad to her relatives or friends. She never asked me what am I studying, is it difficult, do I like it or not. That wasn’t important to her.

18. She ‘parentifies’

The narcissistic parent expects her children to behave like a parent, to take care of her even at an early age. I’ve also heard that some narcissistic parents rely on their children for emotional support when they go through tough times.

They expect children to read their minds and work on the relationship with the parent like it was their responsibility. I’d often hear from my mom how her friend and her daughter get along so well and why am I being so difficult that I can’t bond with her the same way.

19. The parent never talks about her feelings because she has none

A narcissistic parent hasn’t grown emotionally to the point where she can understand her feelings and is able to work through them. She’s in a child-like state where she doesn’t really know what feelings are, thus, she’s unable to talk about them or communicate her needs to others.

20. There’s no empathy

The absence of empathy is common in narcissists, and, when it comes to narcissistic parents, this lack can do a lot of damage to the child’s self-esteem. When the child gets into trouble, hurts himself or is feeling sad, he won’t receive the support that he needs. The lack of empathy will protect the narcissist from connecting with others and feeling their emotions.

As a child, if I got a problem at school or was upset because of bad grades or bully teachers, my feelings would be ignored and the situation would never be discussed at home. One time, I was robbed in a bus by a gypsy and, instead of being asked how am I doing, I would receive only criticism and put-downs for not being able to defend myself and prevent the robbery.

All these traits belong to those parents who haven’t matured enough to get past their child-like behavior.

A narcissistic parent is ‘locked’ in this vulnerable state and uses others to get the things that she didn’t get from her own parents. Protecting the early life trauma is the narcissistic parent’s responsibility. And it shows in the way she treats her offspring.

If you know other traits of narcissistic parents, please share them in the comment section below. Thank you for reading and make sure to subscribe to my newsletter!

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47 thoughts on “20 hidden traits of a narcissistic parent

  1. So many memories. I wish I had known about narcissism when I was growing up. It would have made it easier to understand what was happening and perhaps the damage would have been lessened.

    1. It would have been easier, yes. But there was no way for you to know about narcissism. Even psychologists are not very knowledgeable in this topic. At least there are more and more discussions and articles written about narcissistic personality disorder now than there were in the past. Sad topic, though..

    2. I have a narcissistic mother who has to target her anger at someone and mostly it’s at me. Currently she isn’t speaking to me because apparantely I spend too much time with my 91 year old disabled grandmother (who cannot get out of the house and who has always treated me with kindness) and I booked a vacation over my father’s birthday (my brother did too – but he’s the golden child so that was ok). She also isn’t speaking to me because she invited my brother and his family for dinner the week of my birthday and failed to invite my family – I challenged her on this but she’s turned it around. I should mention I invited her and my father for lunch the same week. I have had 47 years of blame and criticism, it’s come to a head and we haven’t spoken for 6 months. It’s very hard and I don’t really understand what I do wrong, my husband says she’s mentally ill yet I still feel guilt.

        1. Emma, your husband is right. Your mother is ill. She shows signs of unhealthy narcissism (called NPD). She is not speaking with you as a way to punish you for not giving her the attention she thinks she deserves. Read more about silent treatment by googling it. And careful with the boundaries you set with her. She might not like that. Best

  2. In regards to living through children, parents like these arrange marriages for their children and/or set them up for relationships with people whom they think are right for them when they are not. Have you seen The Notebook for instance? Allie had a toxic family that made her split up with Noah for a rich, arrogant man whom they approved of.

    1. Yes, Lisa, those toxic parents live trough their children. It’s unfortunate but the best thing an adult child can do is to get away from them and live their own life, independent from their parent’s love and approval.
      I have seen ‘The Notebook’ and yes, I remember Allie’s family. This topic is popular in movies as it brings a lot of tension/conflict.

      1. When I had my first boyfriend at mother had a total meltdown. Said I was abandoning her and didn’t care about her. Really sick. Most of my childhood memories are filled with house shopping…furniture shopping…Jones of new York…wait for her in the jazzercise day care…stuff like that. I was expected to be her best friend at all times. I would always look forward to my birthday because I’d actually get to see my friends. However she’d still tag along. Continued to do so in my 20s and still lays on the guilt if she’s not invited to go clubbing. She’s 70….I can’t believe I didn’t realize this before this year. But everything came to a head this year. We no longer have a relationship. I should feel “guilty” but honestly I just feel relieved to have my own life. I can tell you how many relationships I was in to appease my mother. When she finally got over the abandonment she gave me a list of criteria and no one was ever really good enough to bring home. She would be rude to them or immediately try to use them for taking out her trash. Very bizarre and sick behavior.

        1. Hi again. That’s unfortunate how your mother treated you. I guess she was jealous that you had a boyfriend as she was depending on you for her happiness. No parent should do that to their child. You were responsible for her joy and well being.
          If you say it’s sick and bizarre behavior then it is. I truly believe you.

  3. Another trait of a narcissistic mother is gift giving or rather lack of it. Very mean. Only ever a card for my birthday. No gifts for xmas either ever. I am 60 years old this year and golden child sister shows off her gold baubles bracelets necklaces etc she got from the same mother. Odd and cruel.

    1. That’s so cruel! I totally understand that. The lack of gift giving was something normal in my family. The golden children always get special treatment, yes. Hopefully, you’re on your way to recovery.

      1. Mine forces gifts on me that I don’t want…things from around her house…or things that she likes but I have no affinity for. I’m 36 and I don’t need anything. I just find it odd that my 48 year old brother gets hundreds of dollars of video games and I get used crap from around her house. I would really rather not have anything from her because I feel obligated to pretend to be excited and give her attention. Her gifts have always been about attention for her than something I’d actually like. She’s probably bought me five fake Sapphire rings…because she loves Sapphires. I hate them. So I keep getting these $5 rings for every occasion and I’d rather just have a heartfelt card…one where she takes an interest in my life and doesn’t talk about herself would be great.

        1. Hi, Lauren. If narcissists give gifts, they offer something they would like to have. They don’t have an interest in the other person and the gift-giving is done to look good in front of others. My parents weren’t big on gifts and it made me feel sad and unworthy.

    2. I get a birthday present once a year, I never get anything else, the kids get a coat each and birthday presents once a year. If I have her over for dinner, I get a small gift but she never has bought me something just because and actually once asked me to sell stuff on ebay for her, said she’d give me £50 if I sold it. I did but I didn’t get enough money (something like £200 instead of £250) so she shaved off £10 – gave me £40. She is extremely tight with money but has a lot. I don’t care about the money, it’s never been about money, it’s about proper mother behaviour. She has no idea how to be a mother – she didn’t speak to her father 2 years before he died (he died without speaking to her again) and she showed no remorse. She hates the world and spends her life judging people, it’s all about control with her. As soon as she can’t control someone, she throws her toys out of the pram. Unfortunately, it is psychologically damaging and I thank god I have my own husband and children. My aim is to have a great relationship with my kids, especially the mother daughter relationship with my little girl that I never had.

  4. At 60, I have just realized the my mother is a narcissist. I am the oldest of three children and always the one to fix everything. As a child, I was the one cooking, cleaning, mending argue meats etc. I finally moved out at 17 and got married. When I was a child, I did something to make her angry and she took an extension cord to my buttocks, she smoked without my father knowing for over 20 years and I took the blame for the ashtray under my bed or she would tell my dad I was taking birth control. She punched me another time, pushing me into the coffee table, warranting 3 stitches in my head. She claims to love nature and animals but when some red squirrels made a nest and had babies in a p,ace outside she didn’t like, she took 2 rocks and smashed their heads, instead of relocating them. When I was 21, I had to go to her place of work to smooth over some problems she was having.

    It wasn’t until my Dad began experiencing MILD signs of dementia. They have just paid their new 4 bedroom house with 3 bathrooms off. Within 2 months she had him in a retirement home. She has called the police on him 4 times in the last year saying he was aggressive and even though I showed up every time, I know her well enough and he never threatened her personally. She has wanted a divorce for years but would not because she said she was not going to lose her “Stuff”. So now she has had him deemed incapable for finances and health and has put him in a retirement home. This way, she is rid of him but now has not just half of everything, she has it all!

    She got me to call the ambulance the first 2 times at the beginning of all this. I was worried for him. Then I began to notice a pattern…while in the hospital, DadWould do really well, no delusions, no talk of going home ( this was the worst of his symptoms. He still does everything on his own but does not like the feeling he gets on the antipsychotics so sometimes will not take them). After 2 weeks of being home, symptoms would gradually begin again. Then one day she told me she took him off his antidepressant for a week because it made him grumpy, took him off cold turkey and put him back on full strength. He counted his pills so she would slip an extra seroquel in his coffee. She would change the times she gave his meds as well. After the second time he was in hospital, I told her I would not call the ambulance on him again. She became furious with me and things became nasty. I decided I would spend all my focus on ‘dad and last week went no contact with her. This is really difficult as every time I go to visit /dad in the retirement home, someone calls her and she is there within 5 minutes. I have tried to take dad out for lunch or a walk, anything. He says he cannot go with me because them my mother would think I am on her side. Within the first week of being in the retirement home, she has gotten rid of anything she doesn’t want that was his.

    Dad and I collected silver coins and back in April, he decided to sell them. He asked me to do that for him. She is now accusing me of stealing some of them. She said he kept some of them but dad, (supposedly the one with the illness, said no, he did sell the ones she says I took).
    Since I have gone no contact, life has gotten really bad! She is bad mouthing me and making up stories to everyone I know that she knows.

    Worst thing here is, I tried to get dad and her help through a couple of agencies to help with the dementia, (which I think was more caused by neglect and psychological abuse by her). Both the agencies, believed all her drama and payed more attention to “caregiver burnout”, which it is not. She said she could never go out, but she did when she wanted to, dad was fine and she knew it. Then I took her to a psychotherapist, using the excuse that I wanted to save hers and my relationship. She was furious at first but then began feeding off that too! Last thing she said to me was that therapy was the best thing she ever did, because it made her strong, it actually made her worse. I am feeling bad and guilty now because I got her in touch with all the people that were suppose to help dad but just gave her more to feed on.
    Now, the only person she is talking to is my niece who is so much into drama and could possibly become her next scapegoat. She has tried to come between my younger sister and I with no success.

    At first I was in so much disbelief. Then I began to put it together. Can’t talk to anyone as no one believes me. I stayed at their hose for 3 nights after the 3rd time dad got out of hospital to take care of him and give him his meds…that was all she would let me do. She would watch me from the living room as the way the curio cabinets were, she told me she could see everything anyone was doing in the kitchen if she sat in the right spot. She called me names and made it miserable for me and oh yes, wanted to charge me rent for staying there to help out.

    Yes, I did go to a therapist but stopped when she said my mother was probably only kidding about the rent….she was dead serious and still will say I should have. According to my mother, I have no future and I am a thief, am out to get everything (have never asked for anything). What hurts the most is she is now and probably has been all my life, trying to turn my own father against me.

    Does this ever stop? Should I be looking for a certain kind of therapy?

    Thank you in advance Marlena,

    1. I’m sorry that I haven’t replied earlier. This blog is not as active as it was in the past but I’ll try to keep it going somehow.
      Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, psychotherapy might be good to start-but look for a therapist who is specialized in narcissistic abuse. It’s very important to find this specific type. Best of luck, Suzanne!

    2. It’s unbelievable how many common points I found with my mother in your story… Thank you for sharing. I still can’t believe my mother is that kind of a person. I don’t know how to deal with it. It’s really difficult. I’m working on it for years. It’s getting better, but still difficult.

  5. Is it twisted that I feel relieved from reading all of this? I’ve been begging for my mom’s love forever. Trying to be the best at everything, she would compare me to my sisters or other kids when I failed, and disregard my victories. She harrassed me to get my high school diploma cum laude and when literaly 30mns after I did, I was so happy and talking about it a lot she told me to stop bragging. It sounds ridiculous but it’s been the story of my life. I failed to get in a great Uni, I called her crying sayinf I didnt get it and she said “so you’re not that clever after all”. I’ve been trying to please her, cried so much wandering why she didn’t love me. This article is great, she is sick, toxic, and I have been really happy taking her out of my life. I’m trying to grow now as a person and stop waiting for people’s approval to acknowledge my victories. Complicated….

    1. Hi, Passea. I don’t think is twisted to be relieved. It is how we were programmed to think, putting people first and our needs and feelings second or third. I’m happy you cut the contact with your toxic parent, as I know from experience is not easy at all.

    2. Hey, If you ever want to talk….I am also in a similar situation as you and I could sure use some support. if you feel you want to talk ever I would really appreciate hearing another persons real deal because till this day I still haven’t been able to break free of wanting to be close to her even though I have been educated on narcissism for 9 months now…..anyways, respond if you would be open to talk ever via email or txt or even phone. Then I can give you my contact info. Btw….my name is Tracy and I live in southern California and I am 48 years young

      1. This msg is for Passea. And thank you so much for your loving, honest, strengthening work here on this blog Marlana…..

  6. There needs to be tons of support groups for people with parents like this. Up until now I’ve been trying to find out the problem with my mom. I recently started to feel like I was going insane and luckily I’ve come across so many valid descriptions of her being a narcissist just in time to save myself and get the help I need after 31 years of mental abuse.

    1. Yep, there needs to be. Unfortunately, narcissism (NPD) is not well-known even among therapists. Thus, the difficulty in providing help. But we can help each other by connecting with others who have gone through the same things. Good luck in your recovery!

  7. Projecting their own frustrated desires onto their children is another key trait. My father’s life precluded exploring musical talent at a young age, so he projected this onto his son, completely incapable of distinguishing General musical sensitivity for specific aptitude for an individual instrument. When it was clear, I was untalented at the violin, despite enjoying piano, recorder and singing, he did not suggest s change, rather sneered and derided, hired s men-hating spinster as a teacher and socially ostracised me by sending me to music school on Saturday morning when my talent in no way justified it.

    Later in life, his single excuse was ‘the school suggested it’. Yes, and if Hillary Rodham Clinton suggests nuclear war with Russia, you dutifully agree with her?? This inability to put a child before relationships outside the family is intrinsic to the narcissist’s approach to scapegoat children.

    1. Hi, there, rtj1211. I agree with projection. These N parents are masters at projecting their faults, needs, desires onto us. I’m sorry that your father tried to live through you, I know how hard it is. Yes, they can’t put their child’s needs ahead of their relationships. They don’t see their children as important because, for them, they’re only sources of supply.

  8. Hi Marlena, Would you have any suggestion for finding a book or resources for an ill parent raising a preschooler? I was raised by a NM, my siblings and I understand that now so I’m familiar with it. I am currently recovering from cancer and lymphedema which means living with chronic pain and sleep deprivation for the last year–I did the NP questionnaire and don’t really have that but I found a questionnaire for children of NP (on-line) and my beautiful little 6 year old boy has ALL of those traits. I don’t want him to suffer from my illness and it will be a while before this is under control. I feel like I am doing a HUGE disservice to him. Basically I’m looking for a parent guide for NP of young children to be a better parent–Because I feel like that is what my illness is doing to him. Thanks in advance for your time.

    1. Hi, Julie. I find it strange that your 6-year old child can have narcissistic personality disorder. From my unprofessional opinion, it is not possible. Children at that age still develop their selves and it is you who should be responsible enough for him not to turn into a narcissist. Of course one can’t control 100% how things will turn out of their children, right?
      But my advice is, to not trust the online questionnaires blindly and get a professional opinion from a child therapist.
      I’m sorry about your disease, hopefully, you’ll get better and I’m sure that you are doing your best as a mother. But, yeah, best thing is to get counseling about this problem.
      You’re going through many things and even without a child, dealing with narcissism and toxic folks is so difficult.

      1. HI Marlena,
        I don’t believe my son has NPD.
        I feel like he is suffering the effects of being raised by a NP because of the toll of my illness and recovery. I’m trying to find some resources in “parenting through illness” or something like that, to be better able to reduce his stress and anxiety. I feel like he is starting to develop compensating behaviors and “care taking” behaviors that are beyond appropriate for his age. (6) I guess I didn’t make that clear in the email.

        1. Hi. I understand but sincerely, I don’t know what kind of advice to give you. The only thing that comes to mind is counseling. Is there any way to find counseling (free or cheap) in your area? You struggle with many things and surely the counselor can help you help your son.
          Also, are there any relatives to help you out with this? There are support groups online for sick parents, perhaps you can use those, too. has dozens of support groups for physical and mental illness-also for parents. Good luck.

  9. I appreciated this article but wonder if you have advice for how to handle this type of person with a young child, hopefully avoiding the pain that seems to be inevitable for this little 6 yr old. What if anything can we do as grandparents to help our granddaughter with her mothers behavior? Sh e is seeing a marriage counselor but refuses to accept accountability or responsibility for her actions. My granddaughter can not be away from her mother except to stay at my house over night but even then it’s with conversations with mom. She has no identity-everything is “we” Her likes, dislikes, beliefs, thoughts, ideas there are none that are hers alone. Her husband is trying but it seems nothing is working. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi, Dennise. Unfortunately, I can’t give you an advice about your granddaughter’s situation. The reason for this is because I don’t want to give advice to someone who hasn’t asked for it herself. If your granddaughter really wants help, she is more than welcome to come here and get in touch. Also, you describe her as really enmeshed with her mother. From my experience, when an adult child of a narcissist is enmeshed, he or she needs to do a lot of inner work to get out of the enmeshment. It takes willingness and the desire to change. If you want to learn more about your daughter’s narcissism, visit this following website

  10. After over 30 years, just discovering these characteristics describe my mother. A NM never apologizes, never excepts responsibility for their own actions, never says “I love you” in person, & expects others to discipline her own children. She also engages in silent treatment & feeds off negativity.

  11. I have one note: “he” was used in the article. I wish it was he/she or even just “she”. Because in society there is already a bias against men being abusive. Society needs to learn that women/mothers are very capable of it as well. My narcissist was a “she”. And she’s very good at throwing the blame on a “he”. “He made me this way”… Nive way to turn away from responsibility… And society is quick to believe her, cause the default abuser is a man.

    1. You’re right. When I wrote the post, I didn’t think about the he/she pronouns, it just came to me. I wrote it using my Romanian mindset. In Romanian, ‘narcissist’ is a male word, if you know what I mean. We use the male pronoun much more often there. Society is very quick to blame males, yes. In my life I found most of the abusers that came in and out of my life were females. I’m sorry to hear about your mother. Try journaling or/and being on a support group daily to help you get through this. I am also in the stage of realizing mom is a sadist narcissist. It’s horrible and I wish there was a quick way to recovery.

  12. Great article! My mom is an engulfing somatic N and I am only now realizing the extent of the negative impact of that disorder on me and all the family dynamic. My inner voice says “cut the ties” but my mind is not completely aligned with it…partly bc by cutting ties with her I would probably cut ties with my brothers as she controls everything(one) around here.
    In her case though, I do not think that she was wounded as a child. It is actually the opposite, it seems that being the first and only daughter she was really spoiled, by her brothers and father in particular. That explains the “entitled behaviour” but how about the lack of empathy? Can a spoiled child turn into an N?

    1. Hi, Mia. A narcissist is born around 3-4 years of age as a result of extreme emotional/physical/sexual abuse. Being spoiled doesn’t lead one to become a narcissist (in my opinion). Narcissism is a coping mechanism for trauma. Sam Vaknin explains the origins of narcissism very well on his you tube channel.

        1. Great info! I had no idea that excessive praise leads to npd. (mostly because, in my research, all I read was about the opposite of praise-harsh criticism that is leading to narcissism). It’s good to learn new things. 🙂

  13. This article IS my grandmother, she has ALL av the 20 signs. It is so sad to see how she has ruined my mother. I really want to tell my therapist that my grandmother is a narcissist, but I am scared she wont belive me. I remember how she made me feel like I was stupid and dumb when I was about 5 years old, I dont remember what she said, I only remember the feeling I got. Because she is getting older, she is just getting worse. I think she is the reason I have depression and social anxiety.

    How can I tell it to my therapist when she only talk about my anxiety?

    (I am sorry I have a bad English)

    1. Hi, Emma. I’m sorry to hear that your grandmother is a narcissist. Great that you have a therapist. If she/he is a good one, she/he will believe you. However, it might happen that your therapist won’t be able to talk about narcissism due to lack of knowledge/experience. If this happens, try to find one who is knowledgeable. Therapists are there to believe us and validate whatever feelings we have. If they can’t validate our pain they are not worth our money and time.
      Good luck

      1. I told my therapist today that my grandmother is a narsissist. Even tho I got an anexiety attack while telling her, I think it went well. I think she belived me.

        If it was not for you, I would probobly not told her, thank you so much

  14. Thanks for your article (Are you an INFJ? I am. My mother is an ESTJ, father is ISTJ and the golden-child sister is ISFJ…she’s *actually* golden). For the last year or so, I have been weeding out all the negative emotional vampires, bullies and narcissists that were my friends. I have a history of being attracted to male narcissists as well. Was even assaulted by one on a date, which was very traumatic. I never thought to realize that my mother was one too. She was abused as a child by her stepfather, and almost given away by her mother. So certainly, she went through her share of trauma. She doesn’t know how to talk about it, doesn’t know how to express her emotions or feelings, doesn’t know how to acknowledge my feelings, she has anxiety, has had panic attacks, high blood pressure, night terrors, and an infantile personality at times. I spent my life trying to accommodate, help, fix, please and not anger her. She also violated my boundaries as a child, teen and still as an adult. I had to call her out just yesterday twice. She acts like its a cute joke and doesn’t apologize unless I ask her to. she pulls this naive act that I just hate. She even will raise her voice like a little child. I think my golden-child sister has actually developed similar NPD traits in herself as a result of my mother – my sister was not victimized like I was, but I think she developed a different coping mechanism, or it just rubbed on on her like that, differently than it did for me. I get similar treatment from my sister, except not as amplified as my mother.

    1. What is INFJ, ESTJ and ISFJ? Anyway, I understand that your mom was traumatized as a child but she is an adult and had a responsibility to care for herself while having you, the child. You don’t have to take care of her emotions or feelings. I am sorry that you were assaulted on a date. Here is a post I wrote on how to manage dating after narcissistic abuse.
      Melanie Tonia Evans also has a great blog on how to cope with narcissistic exes, boyfriends or friends.
      Take care!