Narcissism, Relationships

The origin of narcissism: why do narcissists become parents?

narcissists: movie still from Mommy Dearest, portraying Joan Crawford, an emotionally unstable mother

Have you ever wondered why are your parents narcissists? And, if they do such a bad job at parenting, why in the world they chose to become parents in the first place? Wouldn’t they know they must not have the necessary skills required to take care of a child who’s so needy for love and attention?

To answer all these questions, we must go back to your parents’ childhoods.

If you know a bit about your parents, then you must know they didn’t grow up happy and fulfilled. Your parents must have been taught by their own parents that their existence does not matter. That they are not worthy of love and affection. Maybe they were even abused physically or/and emotionally. There is a high probability that your mom was a victim of her own mother or father during the early years.

Yes, this does not excuse your parents for what they did to you. However, one thing you need to understand: narcissists are not happy people. They are unable to find happiness or fulfillment in their lives. Thus, it is very hard for narcissists to relate to you in a positive manner.

Why narcissists become parents?

The short answer is because they can and are capable of being parents.

The long answer is because they believe they’re capable. Narcissists not only think they are capable of parenting but consider themselves god’s given gift to humanity.

They think they’re special and other people will be lucky to have them around. They can do no wrong in any relationship so it is actually normal for them to want to have children.

This is the lie they tell themselves in order to survive the shame that lies at their emotional core. The shame of being abused by their caretakers or discarded by their loved ones. The shame of not being good enough or not amounting to anything in life.

In a conference about co-dependency, narcissism expert and psychotherapist, Ross Rosenberg stated that narcissists behave the way they do due to the emotional abandonment they suffered as children.

He said ‘Without warmth, acceptance and unconditional love, this child closes down emotionally, loses hope for ever being considered lovable. This child learns that they’re essentially unworthy. The world is unsafe and they’ll need to rely only on themselves because only through their own efforts they’ll feel good about themselves.’

However, this shame of being rejected as a child has been pushed deep down into their subconscious. Therefore, instead of feeling shameful for who they are, narcissists went to the other extreme where they could tell themselves they’re perfect and incapable of being wrong or doing wrong.

This mentality makes narcissists think they can be perfect parents. I mean, how hard is it to take care of a small child?

In the infamous adaptation of Joan Crawford’s life, ‘Mommy dearest‘, we understand why Joan decided to adopt a child, despite being temperamental and emotionally unstable.

In her words ‘I could be a mother and a father. I know how to teach a kid to take care of himself, to amount to something. I know I could.’ Joan thought she possesses the qualities of both parents to bring up an emotionally healthy child. Not only this, but she imagined that motherhood is only about providing shelter, food and basic knowledge about living so that the kid would make something out of his life.

She didn’t even consider the emotional bond that the mother needs to establish with the child in order to fulfill her parenting role. Without the emotional bond, no parent can be called a ‘good parent’. Let’s face it. Everyone can feed, dress and tell a child not to stick his fingers in a socket. But to connect with a child is something entirely different and narcissists are incapable of doing it.

I don’t have any memories of my mother playing with me or telling jokes. We never did anything fun together and this is NOT an exaggeration. Mom was a reserved person who wasn’t interested in connecting with anyone in her life.

Narcissists have cut themselves from their emotional world, thus, they can’t feel anything anymore. They can’t grieve like others do or love others of the opposite sex. It’s not in their nature to feel jealousy or extreme pain when someone cheats on them or betrays them. And, due to this emotional apathy, they are not capable of relating to their children.

Only after reading about narcissists, I can say I managed to understand my mother completely. It is so important even for you, reader to learn what narcissism is and where it is coming from. (if you’re an adult child of a narcissist, of course)

Here are few resources that will help:

You Tube Channels:

Sam Vaknin, Family Tree Brand Life Coaches, Ross Rosenberg, Understanding Narcissists.


‘Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited’, Sam Vaknin

‘Will I Ever Be Good Enough’, Karyl McBride

‘The Human Magnet Syndrome’, Ross Rosenberg

‘Free Yourself From The narcissist In Your Life’, Linda Martinex-Lewi

‘Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping with Narcissists’, Craig Malkin

In conclusion, to understand narcissists, you need to understand the fact that they feel more superior and capable than the average folk. Due to this faulty thinking, they imagine they can be perfect parents to a helpless child. In time, this thinking will damage the relationship with the child because, he/she will be subjected to unreasonable expectations. The child cannot get upset on the the parent because the parent is not at fault for anything.

Thus, the cycle of abuse begins and the narcissists will make sure that there is always someone to blame so their flawless image stays crystal clear. If the child leaves the relationship, never to return, he/she will be discarded and replaced with a new source of love and attention.

This way, the parents will continue to believe in the lie that they’re indestructible and everything they do is worthy of praise.

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Also, leave a comment bellow and share your experience with your narcissistic family.


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