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19 Signs You Were Raised By a Narcissistic Mother or Father
by Aletheia Luna
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Learning how to understand and make peace with your childhood is one of the most healing and empowering experiences you could ever go through.

When we were children, we looked up to our parents for support, encouragement, nurturing and love.

But when we were denied these things, we developed a variety of beliefs, behavioral patterns, and coping mechanisms to help us survive in such a difficult environment.

As adults, we often play out these same coping mechanisms, often to our own detriment.

The thing about being the child of a narcissistic mother and/or father is that it often contributes to something known in shamanic terminology as soul loss.

Soul loss is the inability to contact or experience our souls due to the unresolved wounds, traumas, and fears we鈥檝e accumulated over the years.

The first step in healing this soul loss is to be willing to explore what you went through as a child.

This process of exploring the narcissistic actions of your parent isn鈥檛 done to condemn them or to victimize yourself.

Instead, this process is done to help you understand the root cause of any pain you鈥檙e still experiencing, to learn how to release it, and to move on with your life. This becomes a strengthening and rejuvenating process.

19 Signs You Had a Narcissistic Mother and/or Father
The thing about having a narcissistic mother and/or father is that you have been taught to believe that you are the crazy and imbalanced one, instead of them.

This causes you to constantly doubt yourself and any feelings you have about them.

Another major sign of being raised by narcissists is the constant guilt you struggle with. In other words, while you might suspect that there is something 鈥渙ff鈥 with your parents, you feel ashamed to think about them in such a way, and you tend to start beating yourself up instead.

But there is a very good reason why you鈥檝e come to this article. And while you may still have lingering doubts, I hope the following information can clear your mind.
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Firstly, you should know that there are two main kinds of narcissists:
  1. Engulfing Narcissists 鈥 these are parents who see their children as extensions of themselves. In other words, engulfing narcissistic parents become obsessively involved in your life to an extreme extent. They don鈥檛 respect your boundaries or acknowledge you as a separate person.
  2. Ignoring Narcissists 鈥 these are parents who have very little interest in their children. Ignoring narcissists clearly see the boundary between themselves and their children. As a result, they neglect to take care of their children or show an active interest in their lives.
Depending on what type of narcissistic parent you have, you鈥檒l struggle with slightly different (but similar) issues.
So 鈥
How does a narcissistic mother or father behave?
Here are some of the main signs:
  1. They tried to control you through codependency
  2. They laid on the guilt thick
  3. They only loved you when you did what THEY wanted
  4. They liked to 鈥済et even鈥 with you
  5. They never respected your boundaries
  6. They competed with you
  7. They 鈥渙wned鈥 your accomplishments
  8. They constantly lied to you
  9. They never listened to (or cared) about your feelings
  10. They constantly insulted you
  11. They exerted explicit control over you
  12. They gaslighted you
  13. They 鈥減arentified鈥 you
  14. They had a 鈥渇avorite鈥 or 鈥済olden鈥 child
  15. They reacted intensely to any form of criticism
  16. They projected their bad behavior onto you
  17. They never displayed any empathy
  18. They were infallibly correct and never wrong
  19. They liked to present a perfect family image to outsiders
Keep in mind that there鈥檚 a difference between narcissistic behavior (which only comes out every now and then) and narcissism.

We all have a tendency to be narcissistic given the right circumstances (such as high stress). But narcissism is ongoing, chronic, and pathological.
I鈥檒l go into these nineteen signs more in depth below:

1. They tried to control you through codependency

In other words, you were told by your parent/s, 鈥淒on鈥檛 leave me. I need you. I can鈥檛 live without you.鈥 This made it impossible for you to live an autonomous life or establish independent priorities other than catering to the needs of your parent/s.

2. They laid on the guilt thick

Another method of controlling you was to constantly guilt trip you into doing what they wanted. They may have told you, 鈥淚鈥檝e done so much for you, I鈥檝e sacrificed everything for you.鈥

As a result, you felt indebted to them and as though you 鈥渙wed鈥 them complete obedience.

3. They only loved you when you did what THEY wanted

Your parent/s withdrew love very easily. If you failed to do what they wanted, they would either punish you severely or give you the silent treatment. You had the impression that they only loved you when you PROVED your worth to them.

4. They liked to 鈥済et even鈥 with you

When you did something 鈥渨rong鈥 or against their will 鈥 even in the smallest way 鈥 they made sure they punished you. This petty and childish way of 鈥済etting even鈥 may have been subtle or very obvious.

For instance, they may have deliberately sabotaged something you cared about, broke something of yours, or hid something to get back at you.

5. They never respected your boundaries

There wasn鈥檛 any 鈥減rivate鈥 space to call your own growing up. Your narcissistic mother or father would go through your room and private belongings, without a thought, sometimes even using what they found against you.

6. They competed with you
If you ever got something nice, they took it from you or got something nicer to 鈥渙ut-do鈥 you.

7. They 鈥渙wned鈥 your accomplishments

Whenever someone complimented your achievements, your parent/s would instantly jump in and shift the attention to themselves. For example, if someone congratulated you for winning a soccer trophy, your parent/s would butt in and say something along the lines of, 鈥淵es, she gets it from me. I was always athletic as a child.鈥 They love the spotlight and frequently stole it from you.

8. They constantly lied to you

Your parent/s lied to manipulate, control and take advantage of you in some way, shape or form. You never knew what you could trust was 鈥渞eal鈥 or truthful around them, or whether they were setting up a hidden trap for you to fall into.

9. They never listened to (or cared) about your feelings

You felt that you could never share your feelings with your parent/s because they would either make fun of you or talk about themselves instead. Somehow, whatever issue you faced as a child was spun into a pity party for them, not you.

10. They constantly insulted you

Your narcissistic mother or father berated, demeaned and harassed you on a constant basis. They may have even latched onto an insecurity of yours and used it to humiliate you.

11. They exerted explicit control over you

In other words, when you didn鈥檛 obey them, they would punish you. The message was very clear, 鈥淥bey me, or I鈥檒l punish you.鈥 You were punished through emotional or physical abuse including emotional blackmail, hitting or beating.

12. They gaslighted you

In order to control you, they used a psychological manipulation tactic known as gaslighting. What this means is that they would deliberately make you feel crazy, or cause you to doubt your sanity, in order to gain the upper hand.

This led to the development of constant self-doubt during your childhood, adolescence and present life. Read more about gaslighting.

13. They 鈥減arentified鈥 you

As a child, you were expected to 鈥減arent鈥 your parent, or behave as a surrogate parent to cater to their needs, instead of them catering to yours.

14. They had a 鈥渇avorite鈥 or 鈥済olden鈥 child

In your family, there was the 鈥済olden鈥 child and the 鈥渟capegoat鈥 child. In other words, one child was seen as perfect and capable of doing no harm. The other child was seen as the black sheep and the cause of all issues (this is also known as an identified patient).

These roles could have also switched frequently.

15. They reacted intensely to any form of criticism

Did you ever criticize your mother or father? What was their general reaction? If your mother and/or father was a narcissist, they likely reacted in an extreme way. They would scream at you and likely physically hurt you through smacking, or some other method.

16. They projected their bad behavior onto you

For example, if you were in an argument, your narcissistic mother or father would hysterically scream at you, 鈥 How dare you talk to your mother that way. Go to your room. We鈥檒l talk after you stop screaming at me.鈥

17. They never displayed any empathy

They never asked about your feelings, sympathized with you, or cared. They seemed to be solely interested in their own feelings.

18. They were infallibly correct and never wrong

Even when they made a mistake or treated you in an unfair, or unjust way, they never apologized for their mistake. When you confronted them about it, they denied all accusations and tried to spin the blame onto you.

19. They liked to present a perfect family image to outsiders

Your parent/s went to great lengths to ensure that others perceived you as a loving/successful/enviable family. Likely, you were very aware of this ploy but kept silent for fear of wrath from your parent/s.

How to Confirm That You鈥檙e the Child of a Narcissistic Mother / Father
Raised By a Narcissistic Mother or Father image

After reading through this list of symptoms you might still be unsure of how to define your parent/s.

That鈥檚 normal. Your narcissistic mother and/or father wouldn鈥檛 have exhibited all of the signs above (but if they did, pay attention).
If you鈥檙e the child of a narcissist, you will likely struggle with these problems:
How many signs can you relate to? Obviously, the more issues you can say 鈥榶es鈥 to, the more likely you can confirm (without a doubt) that you were raised by a narcissistic mother or father.

Click on any of the linked articles in the list above to gain further guidance.
Awakened Empath eBook coverThe Awakened Empath eBook:
Written for the highly sensitive and empathic people of life, Awakened Empath is a comprehensive map for helping you to develop physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance on every level.
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How Do You Deal With a Narcissistic Mother or Father?

What next?

If you鈥檙e quite sure that one, or both, of your parents, was a narcissist, it鈥檚 likely that they still have some kind of involvement in your life.

Many narcissist support groups recommend cutting off contact from such parents or interacting them in small, measured ways (such as through a phone call, or text message).

To begin your process of soul healing, you might like to do the following:
  • Stop hoping that your narcissistic parent will change 鈥 you can never change them.
  • Allow yourself to grieve the parent you never had.
  • Understand that you have been raised to suppress and deny your feelings. Now is a good opportunity to slowly open up to those years of repressed feelings. You can do this by seeking traditional psychotherapy that focuses on shadow work, or alternative methods such as shamanic healing, hypnotherapy, holistic remedies, etc.
  • Learn to take care of your own needs through the practice of self-care.
  • Learn how to love yourself.
  • Reconnect with your inner child and learn how to care for it in a way your parents never could. This is called inner child work.
  • Keep an active daily journal in which you self-reflect. This will help you become more self-aware. Learn more about how to journal.
  • Explore soul retrieval, which is a vital part of inner work.
  • Express your emotions in a healthy way, particularly any anger you have inside.
  • Join a support group and connect with others who have experienced similar childhood experiences. You can find many on Facebook, or you could search the internet for local groups.
  • Arm and empower yourself with knowledge by reading books such as 鈥Becoming the Narcissist鈥檚 Nightmare鈥 and 鈥Disarming the Narcissist.鈥
While you may feel broken, it鈥檚 important to remember that you are not broken. Your soul can never be broken. It is still there, waiting for you to access. This experience only serves to show you that everything you need is within you.

No matter what your childhood was like, it鈥檚 still possible to heal and reunite with that source of unconditional joy, wonder and love inside.

I hope this article supports your healing and growth. If you want to share your experience growing up with a narcissistic mother and/or father, please comment below.

You鈥檙e welcome to keep your comment anonymous (by using our website鈥檚 comment system). Your email is always kept private.
19 Signs You Were Raised By a Narcissistic Mother or Father

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This article is brought to you by Aletheia Luna
About Aletheia Luna
Aletheia Luna is a prolific psychospiritual writer, author, and spiritual mentor whose work has touched the lives of millions worldwide. As a survivor of fundamentalist religious abuse, her mission is to help others find love, strength, and inner light in even the darkest places. She is the author of hundreds of popular articles, as well as numerous books and journals on the topics of Self-Love, Spiritual Awakening, and more. [Read More]
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(382) Comments
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  2. Teresa Mitchell
    September 17, 2021 at 11:19 am
    Thank you very much for info on healing inner child and being raised by two narrsistic parents. Ill come back and purchase some of the journals.
    REPLY
  3. Debbie
    August 20, 2021 at 11:58 am
    This is the first time I鈥檝e posted about my narcissistic mother. My whole life I thought I was crazy and everything was my fault til just about 6 months ago I was so sick of arguing with my mother, I went to Google and typed, 鈥淲hy is my mother so angry and controlling?鈥. The very first entry was, 鈥淪igns your mother may be a narcissist鈥. I read it and BAM! My whole life flashed before my eyes and I finally knew I wasn鈥檛 crazy. The sad part was finding out that she would never change and that she was incapable of love. Looking back, that鈥檚 all I wanted from her was motherly love. I am 64 yrs. old and I am living with my 84 yr. old mother taking care of her. I鈥檝e always taken care of everyone in my family. When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, I was the one that took care of him. I raised my brother and sister from the time I was 8 yrs. old. The babysitter we had was a male sailor my dad knew and he was trying to molest me so when I told them about it, they said, 鈥淲ell if you鈥檙e old enough to be wanted by a man, you鈥檙e old enough to babysit.鈥 I babysat every day and night until I left home at 17 pregnant. I was not allowed to have friends over and I was punished if I snuck anyone in. The reason I babysat everyday was my parents were out partying. Either drinking or golfing and sometimes they wouldn鈥檛 come home for days and I wouldn鈥檛 know where they were. My mother lived like a queen. I took care of her kids, her responsibilities and she could go have fun. She took my childhood from me. When I recently tried to tell her about how not having a childhood affected me she told me I was selfish and she would do it again if she could. I think that was one of the most hurtful things she鈥檚 said but it鈥檚 also why I typed my question into Google. We were also in the military and moved every 2 to 3 years from one side of the country to the other so needless to say, I have never been good at making friends. I didn鈥檛 know my grandfather or my aunts, uncles, or cousins (all on my mom鈥檚 side) because come to find out, my mother never told them where we were. She talks to them now but makes sure not to include me in on the conversations. Since I took care of my brother and sister, they saw me as the disciplinarian and my mother made sure to emphasize that. She also had ways of manipulating the 2 of them to keep them from getting close. I always felt like the outcast but my mother always made me feel like I was the golden child but now I know that was only to make my siblings resent me more.
    My parents allowed me to smoke cigarettes when I was 11. Anything to make me feel like an adult. If my brother or sister got into trouble, which my brother did quite often, I had to lie about our home situation and would forge notes or telephone calls so nobody knew what was going on. At 16, I thought I might as well raise my own kid and get the hell out of here and got pregnant and married at 17. I finished high school and did okay which seemed to infuriate my mother so she was always trying to get me to leave my husband, yada, yada, yada. Right now she has called me to help her at least 5 times while writing this. I have no time to myself as she is always here and always demanding my attention. I will finish this up at a later time so I can keep myself calm while she infuriates me. The rest of my story only gets worse but I am trying to heal.
    REPLY
  4. David Adams
    August 06, 2021 at 1:36 am
    How many children do you have? On who鈥檚 authority are you to speak given you do the not know the child鈥檚 or parents history and if this is a good solution then why isn鈥檛 everyone applying what you offer for advice鈥ecause what you say is not based on any medical fact?
    REPLY
    • Michael AA
      August 07, 2021 at 10:36 am
      Lol, show me a psychological study or source that this is not a 鈥渕edical fact鈥, as if getting angry over something counts as fact. No one is saying all parents are like this if that what bothers you. Unfortunately, not every parent is ideal.
      REPLY
  5. Justine
    July 29, 2021 at 8:18 pm
    Why do people always say a narcissist can鈥檛 change?! Anyone is capable of change! This article hits the nail on the head, but reading that a narcissist can never change always throws me off. Anyone is capable of seeing their behavior and changing it, I will always believe that!!!
    REPLY
    • Michael AA
      August 07, 2021 at 10:37 am
      鈥淏elief鈥 is not actual evidence alone.
      REPLY
    • GGG
      August 20, 2021 at 1:14 am
      True narcissists can never change because they are incapable of believing that their behavior is not acceptable. They are incapable of seeing any fault in themselves and are therefore incapable of meaningful change. Some may mouth the words and say they鈥檙e sorry, or may say they鈥檒l try harder, but their behavior will never back those words up. Any temporary behavioral changes you see come from a place of manipulation and not from a desire to truly change.
      REPLY
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